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Kacapi: Gan Gan Garmana
Suling: Iwan

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

Gangan Garmana is known throughout West Java for the graceful edge he brings to the kacapi. Stylistically different from Ruk Ruk Rukmana, the internationally-known Garmana brings a contemporary flare to this unique style of music while still preserving all its classic qualities.

Kacapi-suling is the hallmark of classical music throughout West Java. This music is synonymous with West Java’s rich history, heroes, and creative sensibility.A typical kacapi-suling ensemble consists of two kacapis (deep, boat-like zithers) and a bamboo flute called a suling. The kacapis are distinguished by the larger kacapi indung, which offers the basic cyclic structure with syncopated medium octave and bass notes. The smaller kacapi rincik doubles the larger kacapi’s speed and decorates the cycles with intricate ornamentation . The suling flute provides a combination of structured melodies and improvisations and comes to the foreground with flare when there is a pause in the vocal.

Kacapi-suling originates from a style of music called tembang sunda, a sung poetry that is accompanied by the same instruments used today. Dating back to the late 1800’s, Tembang sunda was an aristocratic entertainment that sang not only of past kingdoms, but of the poetry of daily life, of love and loss. Kacapi-suling is the predominantly instrumental version of this type of music, which became popular in the 1970’s, when the recording industry began to thrive in Java. It can be heard in a variety of contexts: all night performances for an audience of musicians, important regional ceremonies, or gigs in hotel lobbies pitched to passers-by.