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 Asli 1

During the period between World Wars I and II American dance music was often played in the ballrooms of large hotels in Indonesian cities such as Jakarta and Bandung. The popular 32-bar songs soon influenced the development and structure of local Indonesian music: Indonesia Raya was composed in 32-bar form and Kusbini notated the song Moresko in 32 bars, a form that became known as Keroncong Asli (original keroncong).
Basic Structure of Keroncong Asli Songs:
diatonic scale, 4/4 time, andante tempo; 28 bars grouped into 4-bar phrases, plus a prelude; the 28 bars are often repeated.

Harmonic structure:
Prelude      I – – –      I – – –     IV-V7-      I – – –
A1              I – – –      I – – –     V – – –      V – – –
A2             V – – –     II# – – –   II #- – –    V – – –
Interlude    V- – –     V – – –    V- – –       IV – – –
B1              IV – – –    IV- – –   V – – –       I – – –
B2              I – – –      V7 – – –  V7- – –     I – I7 –
B3             IV – V7-   I – I7 –   IV- V7 –   I- – –
B2             I – – –       V7 – – –   V7 – – –   I – – –

Prelude:
played on flute and/or violin, sometimes guitar; usually an improvised decorative rubato passage based on the 7th row (B3); leads to the tonic chord and a slight pause, after which the rest of the band enters
Interlude:
similar to prelude, may include voice
Melody:
often features wide intervals between and within melodic phrases; each phrase accommodates one line of text; little phrasal repetition; characterised by progressions to the sub-dominant which create the melancholy atmosphere.
The singer performs counter melody, balancing the main melody with expressive improvisations featuring glissando and gruppetto styles and rubato tempo.
Instrumental accompaniment:
usually played on seven instruments – violin, flute, guitar, interlocking ukuleles, pizzicato cello and pizzicato bass; may include additional instruments
Texts:
in Bahasa Indonesia; in 4 verse pantun (poem) structure; usually talk of love; sometimes improvised but popular texts often have fixed forms.

Click below to enjoy examples of keroncong asli songs
Kr Tanah Airku – YouTube – OK De Java FSSR UNS Surakarta
Kr Sapu Lidi – Toto Salmon – You Tube
Kr Sapu Lidi – Mus Mulyadi- YouTube

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.