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IDJA HADIDJAH & JUGALA JAIPONHAN - Jaipongan Music of West Java DLP

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The singular expressions of music across Indonesia are seemingly limitless, though few are as dynamic and hold such a colorful history as jaipongan of West Java. The form of jaipongan we know today was born from the fields of Java where an early form of music called ketuk-tilu echoed over fields during harvest times. Known for intense and complex drumming coordinated with equally dynamic solo female dancing, ketuk-tilu performances included a rebab (a small upright bowed instrument), a gong, and ketuk-tilu (“three kettle gongs”). Though the original performance context of this music revolved around planting and harvesting rituals, with the singer accepting male dancing partners, over time ketuk-tilu became an outlet for village life expressing fertility, sensuality, eroticism, and, at times, socially accepted prostitution. Activities in the first half of the twentieth century that were best suited amongst the elements of harvest and outside of urban criticism.

Fast forward to 1961, the year the Indonesian government placed a ban on Western music, most specifically rock and roll, ostensibly to revive the traditional arts and have the country refocus on Indonesian ideals. Though, this attempt to reclaim, and in many ways conservatize, musical output had an unexpected musical outcome. In the early 70s the composer and choreographer Gugum Gumbira (1945-2020) took it upon himself to retrofit and creatively expand the core elements of ketuk-tilu into a contemporary form. One that would harness ketuk-tilu’s core dynamics and nod to the government’s pressure to revive traditional forms, while creating a fresh and socially acceptable art form where enticing movements, intimate topics and just the right degree sensuality had a collective musical expression. Born was jaipongan.