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Sunda Song
Nano SURATNO (b. 1944)

(arr. Evergreen Club) [9:16]
Jeruk Bali/Kunang Kunang (arr. Evergreen Club) [7:24]
Nano SURATNO (b. 1944)
Penkolan (arr. Bill Parsons) [8:29] TRADITIONAL
Sundanese Arang Arang (arr. Andrew Timar) [3:32]
Sundanese Sorban Palid (arr. Evergreen Club) [8:09]
Nano SURATNO (b. 1944)
Kalangkang (arr. Mark Duggan) [7:10] Mang Koko KOSWARA (1917 – 1985) Tina Jandela * (arr. Bill Parsons) [2:41] Burhan SUKARMA (not known) Samagaha (arr. Evergreen Club) [10:12]
Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan Paul Houle, Bonang; Rick Sacks, Goong/Kempul; Blair Mackay, Jengglong and Gambang; Bill Parsons, Kacapi; Mark Duggan, Kendang; Graham Hargrove, Panerus; Ryan Scott, Peking; Andrew Timar, Suling
Recorded at Phase One Studios, Toronto, Ontario, Canada November 2003 except * which was recorded at Metinota Music Inc.

The music on this disc has its origins in Sundanese (West Javanese) traditions, coming from the most influential indigenous music of Indonesia; one which has found some support in the West. Indeed the traditional Gamelan orchestral sound is here blended with those of American and European traditions.

Primarily in Bali and Java, Gamelan ensembles seem to have originated, not as musical instruments but as weapons of war as Javanese gong smiths learnt from bronze artefacts left by Asian conquerors well before the Christian era. A Gamelan is essentially an orchestra comprising various struck instruments including bronze gongs, chimes and other percussion instruments. Often ensembles include the suling, a long end-blown flute with up to six finger holes, a rebab, a local variety of spiked fiddle, a guntang which is a tube zither with one or two strings which are struck with a short wooden beater, and singers, either singly or in chorus. Collectively these are known as a gamelan, and there are many regional variants throughout Indonesia. One variant, with its own special instrumentation and five-tone tuning (Ab-G-Eb-Db-C) is called Degung. This is the type used by the Evergreen Club on this recording. Full details of the instrumentation are given within the informative notes accompanying the CD, which also lists the Canadian performers and gives the history of the Evergreen Club.

The principal influences on this disc are those of one of the most well known composers from West Java, Nano Suratno (known as Nano S.). Born in 1944, Nano S. studied under a variety of teachers in his native land, including Mang Koko (Koswara) who died in 1985. With a large recorded output in Indonesia, he is thought by some to have become more of a popular songwriter than a serious composer, nevertheless he has found some success in the United States, where his “musik murni” (pure music) compositions have found a market. The Sundanese market prefers songs with romantic or dramatic lyrics, whereas Nano S. has experimented with the creation of music for previously unassociated instruments. He is a visiting teacher in a number of United States and Canadian educational establishments.

The gentle introduction to Anjeun (“…it’s only you my love…”) is typical of the almost hypnotic rhythms of Gamelan, and the plaintive notes of the suling partnered by the expressive sound of the kacapi – a twenty string Sundanese zither – are almost vocal. A gentle rocking rhythm then takes over and supports the suling with a variety of soft percussive sounds. Arrangements of traditional Sundanese pieces intersperse the 20th century compositions, and Arang Arang provides an excellent example of music for a variety of metallophones and gongs, with the suling providing an insistent melodic accompaniment. Sorban Palid provides music with a story “... a woman washes her Haj husband’s turban in a stream ... he has returned from the Haj. It floats away downstream ... she is reminded that he left her for another woman ...” and the listener is left to clothe the sounds with their own interpretation of events. The final two tracks demonstrate the work of both Mang Koko in the arrangement of Tina Jandela (From the window), and of Burhan Sukarma, a master of the suling, in Samagaha (Solar Eclipse). Burhan Sukarma has taught at the University of Washington as well as other North American colleges, and is the joint director of Pusaka Sunda, a Degung Gamelan ensemble in California.

This CD from the Naxos World series would be a very good introduction to Gamelan, and an enjoyable addition to more established collections.

Bob Bamlett



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