Langgam Senja di Kampung Pandan

Langgam Senja Di Kampung Pandan sung by the composer Dwiono Hermantoro, accompanied by HAMKRI musicians, at the latihan on Sunday June 1 2014.
At the end of the clip he asks the listeners if they like his new composition and when they respond enthusiastically he offers to provide notation and encourages them to perform the song.


Bengawan Solo: variations

‘Bengawan Solo’  has been performed in a wide variety of styles.
Here’s a version by ‘Harmony Chinese Music Group’ from Bandung…


… and on my Indonesian blog you can watch a performance by ‘Samalona Reggae’ from Solo.

‘The Colourful of Bengawan Solo’ CD, produced to honour Gesang’s 88th birthday, features an amazing 14 variations:
Pop Country by Lin Indriani
Disco Reggae by Mus Mulyadi
Rock by Gen’s 21
Keroncong Asli by Sundari Soekotjo
Sundanese Degung by Tuti Maryati
Keroncong Asli Duet by Gesang, Asti Dewi C
Japanese Keroncong by Tuti Maryati
Chorus & Orchestra Version by Tri Ubaya Cakti Chorus, Shanghai Orchestra
Mandarin Keroncong by Melani Tunas
Children’s Pop by Lidya Lau
Pop Rock by Dong Feng
Mandarin Cha Cha by Harry
Sundanese Kacapi Suling by Deny
Variations by Shanghai Opera Company & Yogyakarta academy Orchestra

Bengawan Solo

Bengawan Solo (River Solo) is a legendary Indonesian song. Composed by Gesang Martohartono in 1940, it was the first widely popular song to be written in Indonesian language.

Gesang, a singer and bandleader in Solo, wrote the song in 32-bar AABA Langgam form, intending it to be accompanied by a keroncong orchestra in keroncong asli style.

The lyrics tell of the majestic River Solo that flows through Central and East Java and has historically dominated the lives of the local people: it supports and sustains them but also regularly brings misery when it floods. The language is poetic and nostalgic. The melody, easy to sing and remember, appeals to a wide audience.

Bengawan Solo became an instant hit throughout the archipelago when the  local Japanese community promoted it on radio during the Japanese occupation of Java (1942-1945). After the Japanese surrender the song assumed significance as a nationalistic symbol in the Indonesian struggle for independence (1945-49): it was in the language of independence and it aroused feelings of national pride and patriotism.

Most frequently played in keroncong style, Bengawan Solo is also performed in pop, country, reggae, rock, regional Indonesian and other styles. The lyrics have been translated into regional Indonesian, English, Japanese, Chinese, Tagalog, Thai, Burmese and many other languages.

The song became so popular in Japan that it was believed to be a Japanese song and marketed as such. In 1990 Indonesia won a copyright dispute against Japan and Gesang subsequently received royalties for his composition.

Keroncong Song Competition 2014

Solo has just hosted the second national keroncong song competition. The aims of the contest were to encourage keroncongers to create new arrangements of old songs and to compose new songs complete with instrumental accompaniment.
The three categories were:
* Sing a keroncong song
* Compose a keroncong asli song
* Compose a keroncong langgam song

Vocal applicants submitted a demo recording of themselves singing while accompanied by at least one instrument. Composers sent in a demo of their song being performed – the vocalist accompanied by at least one instrument; a copy of the lyrics and notation (balok or angka); proof that the work was original and hadn’t been previously published. All songs had to be in Indonesian language.

The finals were held on November 22. The jury of keroncong experts, Liliek Jasqee, Adit Kelana dan Tuti Maryati, assessed and gave feedback to all entrants.

Finalists in the vocal section Rizky Andhika (Karanganyar), Sheila Ayu Mustikarani (Klaten), Rizky Nurfazri (Jakarta), Reni Wulansari (Jakarta),and Panji Kusuma (Semarang) performed Keroncong Pejuang Sejati plus a song chosen by the jury.

Finalists in the keroncong asli section were Damai Negeriku by Purwanto (Sleman), Senandung Rindu by Adji Muska (Semarang), Pesona Keroncong by Reni Wulansari (Blora), Tumpah Darahku by Johnny Sulu (Jakarta), and Nusantaraku by Harry Yamba (Jakarta).

Finalists in keroncong langgam section were Gesang by Mamad S. Dahry (Jogja), Bintang Jadi Saksi by Darwati (Jogja), Kau Putus Harapanku by Anna Lidia (Solo), Kota Bandung Tanah Pasundan by Dwiono Hermantoro (Karanganyar), and Kenangan by Rini Sumardi (Bekasi).

Total prize money was Rp 67.500.000,00 and winning works were recorded in a compilation album with composer’s rights.

Andjar Any

Selamat Jalan Andjar Any
Anjar Any, one of Indonesia’s most prolific writers, died in Solo on November 13th 2008. Whilst well regarded for his short stories and poetry, he was most widely known for his lyrics for keroncong songs. In his final days, family and close friends serenaded the 74 year old with some of his favorite keroncong songs and among those at his side was Waljinah, the Queen of Keroncong, who sang the very popular ‘Jangkrik Genggong’. Within three months of Andjar Any’s death Niek Piyatni, his beloved wife and companion of 50 years, had also died.

Born in Ponorogo, Andjar Any displayed a strong interest in writing at a young age and began his working life as a journalist. He produced over 2,450 pieces including 1000 songs, most of which were in the keroncong style. 

During the 1960s Andjar Any collaborated with local vocalist Waldjinah, a partnesrhip that produced thousands of songs, including the still popular ‘Yen Ing Tawang Ono Lintang’ and ‘Jangkrik Genggong’ . Usually sung coquettishly by Waljinah, Jangkrik Genggong was in fact a satirical parody of the situation in the early days of the New Order regime when a number of politicians were wavering between their loyalty to Sukarno and to Suharto. It tells of a very large but cowardly cricket that chirps noisily during the quiet of night but becomes silent when another creature, especially a human, approaches.

Through one of those quirks of coincidence that frequently occur in Indonesia, I met Andjar Any. It was November 2006 and I was in Solo to gather information on the local keroncong scene. I’d taken time out to buy batik at the bustling and chaotic Pasar Klewer and, after a random choice of stall-holder, selected the material and negotiated a price. While wrapping the goods in newspaper and string, the stall-holder asked the reason for my visit. ‘You must meet my uncle, Andjar Any’ she said, grasping my hand and threading a path through the crowds and countless batik stalls. We emerged into daylight only to plunge into the darkness of a small office on the side of the market where I was introduced to Andjar Any’s daughter. Within minutes, she had phoned her father, called in her becak driver (always at the ready on the street in front of the office) and I was on my way to Andjar Any’s house.

The diminutive Niek Piyatni ushered me in and introduced her son, a doctor, who explained that a number of ailments had virtually put an end to his father’s career. Shortly afterwards Anjar Any appeared, walking with great difficulty and in obvious ill-health. His voice was almost inaudible, the result of a chronic breathing problem.

However, over a cup of tea Andjar Any garnered his energy and was soon quite animatedly telling his story, showing photos and some of the many awards he had received, including those from Presidents Suharto and Megawati Sukarnoputri. He provided a wonderful snapshot into his life, especially of his passion for writing. When inspired he used to stop everything to ‘go with the moment’ and could finish off a song in several hours. He still received the occasional commission to compose for special events. Andjar Any assured me that although keroncong appeared to have waned in popularity, the scene in Solo was alive and well, with many younger musicians taking up the music and being supported by older players. The role of HAMKRI (The Association of Keroncong Artists in Indonesia), which he helped establish and chaired for its first 12 years is, he added, instrumental to the survival of keroncong.
After taking a number of photos I departed, honoured to have met an Indonesian musical legend.
© keronconginsolo 2014