Dhandanggula, for Javanese Gamelan and Orchestra

by I. M. Harjito (2000)

LISTEN to this piece.

Read NOTES from the concert program

          Ora nyana budaya kekalih
          Rasa kulon temu lan rasa wetan
          Cukup gawe memanise
          Hangrangin rarasipun
          Endahe karaos ing galih
          Swaranya dhandhanggula
          Trenyuh kang kacampur
          Raos suka nggennya pradangga
          Angracik lelagon ing sajroning ati
          Gamelan amanyura

          Who would have thought these two cultures
          Western meeting eastern
          Could yield such sweetness?
          The tones softly chiming
          Their beauty enters the heart
          The sound of Dhandhanggula
          Poignant yet cheerful the feeling
          As the musicians play
          The gamelan in manyura.

          (dedication by I. M. Harjito)

NOTES Dhandhanggula For Javanese Gamelan and Orchestra
By I. M. Harjito

Notes by Marc Perlman, based on information from I. M. Harjito.
Score arranged by Sasha Bogdanowitsch, Andy McGraw, I.M.Harjito, Mike Heffley, and Marzanna Poplawska.

In January 1999, after returning to Wesleyan from a sabbatical in Indonesia, Harjito was inspired to compose gendhing (traditional gamelan compositions). Over the following year he composed dozens of pieces, including Ketawang Dhandhanggula Tlutur sléndro manyura in December 1999. Soon afterwards he conceived the idea to arrange this piece for gamelan and orchestra. There have been many attempts over the years to combine these two ensembles, but all have been carried out by Western-trained composers. Dhandhanggula is apparently the first such effort by a traditionally-trained Javanese musician.

"Dhandhanggula" is a literary term, a name for a certain poetic verse form (identified by its ten-line stanzas, in which each line has a certain number of syllables and ends in a certain vowel). Each Javanese verse form has traditional melodies associated with it, and these melodies often form the basis of gamelan compositions. Harjito's Dhandhanggula follows in this tradition.

Harjito wrote the vocal text of this piece in the Dhandhanggula meter; it is based on a legend of the East Javanese kingdom of Majapahit (13th to 15th centuries). The hero Damar Wulan, ordered into battle by the queen of Majapahit, takes leave of his beloved, Anjasmara. The words and music have a bittersweet quality, the tender sadness of parting lovers.

Harjito has followed Javanese literary tradition by incorporating hidden words (sandi-asma) in this text. The initial letters of the first nine lines spell out "orchestra"; the word "gamelan" is hidden in the first, third, and final syllables of the last line.

Ora lali pepujaning ati I won't forget my beloved
Rayiné kang ni mas Anjasmårå Dear Anjasmara
Cahyå mubyar memanisé Of the sweet shining face
Hyang Widhi kang linuhung Keep almighty God
Émuta mring ngarsané nèki In your thoughts
Supåyå anjangkungå So that He may protect
Tumrap ngarsanipun You and keep you
Rahayu ingkang tininggal Safe and sound when I leave;
Åjå nganti ånå rubédå ing wuri May you have no troubles
Gamelang ing ndalan To cause me anxiety in my journey.

Performers The Millennium Orchestra is a first-time collaboration among the Wesleyan University Orchestra, the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra, the Wesleyan Wind Ensemble, and the Javanese Gamelan.
This page is hosted by the American Gamelan Institute.