Friday, April 24, 2009

Gamelan Buskers

Yogya has a long history of busking musicians - guitar players on Malioboro, siteran on Prawirotaman and the like - which has provoked some comment from ethnomusicologists. Yesterday (23 April 2009) as I was coming back home to Miliran after picking up Hannah, I was surprised by the sounds of a small gamelan on the streets. It was a busking outfit - consisting precisely of two male musicians, a kendang player (who also sung a melody) and a saron player, probably the smallest unit that might legitimely be called a gamelan. I stopped them and asked how much it cost to get them to do a melody so that I might photograph them. The kendang player answered 'seiklase' (whatever you wish to donate) and promptly launched into a piece. Possibly this was their only piece - it was the same song they were playing as they arrived, and the one they played as they left. A different relation existed than with siteran players. There was no suggestion that they would like to sit down as they played, no hint that possibly I might request a song. They showed little enthusiasm for the work (and it was work for them, not personal expression) but they were competent musicians. I shot a 2 minute video of their playing with my digital camera, something perhaps to be used for teaching or lecturing at a later date. Sadly, I didn't get their names.

No comments: