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Performers

Performers

Tarawangsa: Kusnadi of Sumedang
Kacapi: Udin of Sumedang

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

Hear why the minimal yet fully dynamic Tarawangsa ritual music of West Java is known for putting its accompanying dancers into trances. With only two very simple stringed instruments, these renowned players cover a variety of textures and create nothing less than musical poetry. We’ve brought a new quality of recording to this very rare music.

Tarawangsa is both the style of music as well as the name of the two-stringed, upright, bowed instrument used in the performance of this rare music. The tarawangsa is considered by some scholars to be the only indigenous stringed instrument found in Java; its development came at a time when Java was largely an animist society fully dependent on agricultural cycles. That era is echoed through its use in rural west java today.

This music is deeply integrated into an agricultural/religious ritual happening once or twice a year in honor of the rice goddess Dewi Sri. Through this ritual the Sundanese farmers of West Java honor Dewi Sri, thus hoping to protect the fields, have a rich havest and avoid village calamities. In many ways this is a prime example of how the Sundanese can amalgamate animistic beliefs with muslim character to create a comprehensive and stabilized world view.

A typical performance consists of the tarawangsa and a plucked instrument called the kacapi. The kacapi provides an almost unshakable ground and pattern on which the tarawangsa creates melody, manipulates timing, reinforces rhythm, and poetically destabilizes the kacapi with glides and silence.