One thing that I love about Southeast Asian music is the sense of multiple melodies swirling around each other, weaving in and out, yet always seeming to end up in the right place. This is especially true of gambang kromong.
Gambang kromong is a vernacular music from the outskirts of Jakarta. It is the music of the Betawi, long time inhabitants of the Jakarta area of Java, as well as the Peranakan, people who are a mix of Chinese and Indonesian. The music is often performed at weddings or in musical theater.
The ensemble consists of gambang, an 18 key xylophone and the kromong, a small set of kettle gongs. Other instruments often included are a 2 string fiddle (tehyan) similar to the erhu, suling (flute), an array of percussion instruments and anything from western brass to electric guitar (see Folkway’s Music of Indonesia vol. 3).
Irama was Indonesia’s first independent record label, started in 1954 by Suyoso Karsono. Irama released a wide variety of traditional and popular music.
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