As a young boy living in Surabaya Mulyadi* taught himself to play classical music and was also the leader of a rock band. Although he learned several instruments the saxophone remained his favourite. After a while he became interested in keroncong and joined several orchestras so he could learn the technique and understand the structure of the music. It was at this time that he started creating instrumental arrangements which he notated by hand.
Keroncong became a passion and Mulyadi soon developed a reputation for his expertise. This led to his appointment as leader of Radio Orkes Surakarta (ROS), a position he held for many years.
Now retired, he’s involved in several local keroncong orchestras but says his focus is on preserving his favourite music by teaching the young. ‘Many young people were introduced to keroncong by their parents and they found they really liked it, so we must build on this interest,’ he says. ‘There’s a real shortage of flute and violin players, so we have to give more training.
‘Also, although many people can play keroncong, they need to be guided to develop the jiwa (spirit, soul) of the music. It’s the same with jazz and pop – if you don’t have the spirit, the music lacks something.’
Mulyadi teaches boys and girls – a change from the past when males played and females sang – and aims to establish keroncong groups of young musicians.
Meanwhile he includes young players in his orchestras so they can gain experience. During a recent public performance, Mulyadi sat between two young flautists, one of them his son, while a senior player mentored two young violinists.
‘There is no keroncong overseas’ says Mulyadi, ‘so we must work to preserve this uniquely Indonesian music. (Dec 2010)
*Sadly Mulyadi is no longer with us. His legacy will continue.
© keronconginsolo 2014 click photo to enlarge