2006 Babar Layar

Performance details

  • Time and date:
    2.30 pm, 18 June 2006
  • Venue:
    Campbelltown Arts Centre
  • Director:
    Vi King Lim
  • Guest artists:
    Ria Soemardjo, Soegito Hardjodikoro
  • Description:
    Join Langen Suka Sydney Gamelan Association for their latest performance Babar Layar (Spreading the Sails), celebrating the second anniversary of the Indonesian Community of Campbelltown Association. In a concert of Javanese music, song and dance, allow us to take you on a journey of the sorrows and joys of human existence: the pangs of missing a distant lover, the disappointment of unrequited love and the joyful celebration of marriage. Through the journey savour the variety of musical experiences to be found in Javanese gamelan from that of the refined and dignified Javanese court to the fun and lively pieces inspired by music found in the villages of central Java. Featuring guest artists Ria Soemardjo (female vocalist) and Soegito (musician) with dancers Vi King Lim, Grace Hadiwijaya and Tabitha Williams, Babar Layar will present the rich and colorful diversity of Javanese gamelan. A percentage of proceeds from the concert will be donated to the earthquake victims of Yogyakarta and Central Java in Indonesia.


  • Dancers:
    Grace Hadiwijaya (Beksan Endah), Vi King Lim (Beksan Endah), Tabitha Williams (Gambir Anom)
  • Musicians:
    Anne Bourke, Dale Caldwell, Prue Gibbs, Roger Gilchrist, Dave Grey, Grace Hadiwijaya, Soegito Hardjodikoro, Camilla Ip, Tracy Kinchington, Vi King Lim, Ginevra Martin, Janine Marshman, Peggy Polias, Belinda Poon, Frank Regan, Irina Reykhtman, Zoë Scott, David Shannon, Ria Soemardjo, Thomas Stewart, Suhadji, Ruth Wells, Danny Yee


  1. Ketawang Langen Suka, laras slendro pathet manyura
    This is Langen Suka’s very own welcoming piece which was specially composed by Sudarsono for the group.
  2. Gendhing Babar Layar kethuk 4 kerep minggah kethuk 8, laras pelog pathet lima
    As the name of the form suggests, the bonang instruments are prominently featured in a gendhing bonang. Only the loud-style instruments play creating a sense of spaciousness and strength. After the bonang introduction, three sections follow, each of increasing vigour.
  3. Tembang Macapat Pangkur Ngrenas, Ketawang Pangkur Ngrenas, laras pelog pathet lima
    Tembang macapat is the purest and oldest form of Javanese singing to survive to this day. Classical Javanese verse is more effective when sung unaccompanied and in the case of the Wedhatama, a jewel of 19th-century Javanese literature composed by Mangkunegara IV,  its philosophical and mystical message acquires a sense of nobility which aids its didactic purpose. The Javanese however also appreciate singing for pleasure and relaxation and it was not long before gamelan accompaniment was added to the melodies of tembang macapat. The first four verses of the Wedhatama are sung here as tembang macapat in alternation with uran-uran accompanied by the ensemble of soft-style instruments known as gamelan gadhon.
  4. Beksan Gambir Anom (Lancaran Rena-Rena, laras slendro pathet nem; Ketawang Kinanthi Sandhung, Srepegan, laras slendro pathet manyura)
    In this popular dance which draws heavily in its vocabulary of movements from masked dance, the male character Gambir Anom is usually performed by a female dancer. He is on his way to war but is constantly distracted by thoughts of his loved one. Imagining that she is there before him, he becomes excited and ecstatic and grooms and preens himself in order to impress her. His hallucinations are so powerful that he even reaches out to embrace her. When reality eventually hits, he becomes disconsolate and resigns himself to his duty.
  5. Ladrang Pariwisata, laras slendro pathet sanga
    No doubt composed in the spirit of promoting tourism in Indonesia, Pariwisata relies musically on the favourite Javanese formula of spinning variations on a melody by slowing it down progressively. With each successive irama (melodic speed), the vocal part becomes increasingly more complex, allowing the composer to invent some of his most original choral lines.
  6. Bawa Pangkur, Langgam Ngimpi, laras slendro pathet sanga
    This is regarded as one of the classic langgam or love songs and perhaps the most well-known employing the soulful and melancholy barang miring scale. There exists no bawa (unaccompanied vocal introduction) more evocative and haunting than the one that precedes this langgam. Javanese singers approach langgam just as jazz singers might cover a standard, delivering the essentially measured rhythms with a certain amount of freedom and adding extra ornaments and inflections when the melody is repeated in irama rangkep or double-time.
  7. Lancaran Lumbung Desa, laras slendro pathet sanga
    A charming and fun piece written in the vein of lagu dolanan or children’s songs. The saron and drum provide novelty by imitating the sound of rice being pounded by interlocking pestles in a wooden trough amid the exhortations of the farmers.
  8. Beksan Endah (Ayak-Ayakan Mangu, laras pelog pathet nem; Ladrang Enggar-Enggar kalajengaken Lancaran Makarya, laras pelog pathet barang)
    Choreographed by the great dancer Maridi to music by Martopangrawit, Endah is more than the sweet nuptial dance which it appears to be. The tables are turned as here it is the wife who appeals to her husband to yield to her desire that he surrender from the war to which he has been sent. The accompaniment and vocal text is intentionally archaic and formal, with hints of the classic wedding piece Kodhok Ngorek incorporated into the saron line. The remainder of the dance uses elements of both court and village styles, subtly juxtaposing and combining the two with great creativity and variation in the spatial disposition of the two dancers. In the cheerful coda, wife and husband recelebrate their marriage and extol the virtues of harmonious co-operation.
  9. Lancaran Baita Kandhas, Ladrang Gangsaran, Gangsaran, laras pelog pathet nem
    The distinctive three-against-four oscillations in the first half of the melody of Baita Kandhas convey a mood of agitation and alarm as would be encountered amongst the crew of a ship that has run aground. The ensuing ladrang maintains the tense atmosphere but regains some sense of order and regularity by virtue of its strongly contoured motifs. The concert concludes with one of the simplest pieces in Javanese gamelan music, the gangsaran, consisting merely of a single note repeated over a short gong pattern to which interest is provided by syncopated drum rhythms.