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Performers

Performers

Ujang Suryana: Suling

Recorded at Aru Studio in Bandung
Java, Indonesia by Electrophoria
(Kai Riedl / Producer and Suny Lyons / Engineer)

Minimal yet playful, Degung is the musical autograph of the people of West Java. This album features some of the region’s most famous musicians, including the legendary Ujang Suryana. Gamelan degung is played on very few instruments, allowing the character of each melody line to shine forth brightly.

Based on a mere handful of instruments, Gamelan degung has enchanted all of Indonesia with its unique combination of skilled playfulness and simplicity. Developed in West Java, degung was traditionally played as welcoming music for visiting Sundanese aristocracy. Now with a much expanded base, degung has developed into a very popular genre heard streaming through radios all over the country. Live Degung is most often heard at spirited events of lighthearted respect. The combination of skill, art, and play heard in Degung has made it the musical autograph of Sundanese culture.

Gamelan Degung uses only a few of the instruments found in a large Gamelan ensemble. These are the bonang, a row of knobbed gongs, two bronze keyed metallophones called sarons, a drum (the kendang), and, of course, the signature bamboo flute, called a suling. The melody is carried by the bonang and suling as the two saron support them with subtle variations. By using so few instruments, the tones and roles of each shine forth, fostering easy listening.

Four immensely popular degung songs are found in this collection. Both Sabilunguan and Colenak swept the nation and could be heard everywhere from taxi cabs to restaurants. These tracks were composed by Ujang Suryana, a famous blind composer who recorded over 60 albums in a variety of genres before his death in 2005.