Shadow Ballads

A wonderful collaboration by Indonesian and American performers explores the resonances between Indonesian and Appalachian cultures.
Elements of Javanese and Balinese gamelan, wayang and keroncong are combined with Appalachian music and crankie, an old story telling form, similar to Wayang Beber, where a long illustrated scroll is wound onto two spools and moved behind a viewing screen.

The narrative is from The Ramayana..

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Langgam Keroncong

Langgam is the Indonesian name for any diatonic song consisting of four 8-bar phrases, each phrase being a melodic setting of two lines of text (Kornhauser 1978,159). This 32-bar song form is common in many Western popular songs.

Langgam Keroncong developed during the 1940s when keroncong performers looked for ways to increase their repertoire. They played langgam songs on keroncong instruments with a keroncong-style accompaniment and they also composed new keroncong songs in the 32-bar form. This standardised structural framework was subsequently adopted by composers of new keroncong songs.

Langgam Keroncong songs are usually in Indonesian language and talk of romance or topical issues – early songs reflected and promoted nationalistic sentiments. The melody has its own set lyrics, which is different from a keroncong asli and stambul song where any verse may be sung with any melody.

In AABA form, the song is sung through twice or repeated from B, with an orchestral interlude between verses; the instrumental introduction is played by violin or flute and accompanied by the rhythm section; there are no orchestral interludes between vocal lines. Singers mostly adhere to melody line, so there’s little vocal ornamentation. The harmonic pattern is usually
A    I –  V-
A1  I –  V – I –
B   (I) – IV- I –  II
A    I –  V – I
Examples: Lgm. Bengawan Solo, Lgm. Selendang Sutra,  Lgm. Pahlawan Merdeka, Lgm. Putri Solo, Lgm. Jembatan Merah, Lgm. Di Bawah Sinar Bulan Purnama
The keroncong repertoire expanded greatly throught the development of Langgam Keroncong.

Keroncong Asli 2

More thoughts on Keroncong Asli …

Keroncong Asli refers to songs that were played in Tugu, Jakarta, in the nineteenth century or were composed in the same form. They are perhaps the most westernised songs as they had not adopted local influences: they came from the Portuguese and were sung in Portuguese language, were in diatonic major-minor scales and had simple harmonies.

Keroncong Asli also refers to songs that were composed in 28-bar form and have certain characteristics.
Keroncong Asli songs are identified by the kr in the title eg Kr Mawar Sekuntum
A Keroncong Asli song can be played in a different style eg beat, rock; and/or with a different harmonic arrangement (keroncong garapan).

An asli ensemble (seven instruments) can play non- asli songs.
There is a strong agreement among keroncong musicians today that Keroncong Asli is a purely Indonesian music.

Here’s another keroncong asli song: Kr Mawar Sekuntum – Tuti Maryati – Wahrweb

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 – – –

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
similar to prelude, may include voice
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
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