The Javanese tradition is not only represented by the large gamelan ensembles, documented by a prestigious nine-volume series in the Felmay catalogue, which has highlighted the different nuances of a culture based on a millenary, rich and complex history.
Cokekan in fact shows to ethnic music lovers a contemporary edge, through which Javanese tradition evolves and keeps on perpetuating. The performance is by an ensemble of four musicians (plus three guests) conducted by composer, writer and ethnomusicologist SUPPANGAH RAHAYU, a recognized authority who has collaborated with Western artists and boasts many experiences abroad (among others, he wrote the soundtrack for “Sureq Galigo”, taken from a XIV century Indonesian epic novel and put on stage by the director Bob Wilson). It is interesting to stress that the performers are members of GARASI SENI BENAWA, an open and informal association which gathers artists of different age and experience, working in the most disparate artistic fields and willing to cooperate together.
The music of Cokekan is centred on the beautiful female voice of Eni Suryani surrounded by the magical sounds of percussions, gong, and other typical Javanse instruments such as gender, rebab, suling and zither.
The style of the four tracks included here can be referred to karawitan, a generic term which indicates the traditional music in Java central area. The first track, which is generally played at the beginning of a concert or of a wayang kulit performance (the Javanese shadow theatre) is a brilliant example of this style. The second track, Subasiti, derives its name from a XIV century queen, and it is usually played to accompany the homonym character in occasion of theatre and dance performances of Langendriyan style. The third, Jineman indicates both a XIII century genre and the themes used to create a light interlude during a karawitan concert. The concluding piece, Sekargadhung is a melody which comes from rural tradition and the text infact is a dialogue between a man who lost his horse and a woman whose laundry have been dragged away by the river.
Even with a small ensemble, chamber-like, maestro SUPPANGAH RAHAYU is able to give a solid proof of the beauty and the tonal richness of Javanese music.