samedi, septembre 18, 2010

Dances to lull the senses - The Gamelan

Ten years ago, I was a busy executive stressed out from incessant work and frustrated that my writing career had not taken off. Irani was just born, Iman and Inas just started school. We turned to theatre and music. Iman took piano lessons, Inas, the violin and I joined a gamelan class at the Actors Studio Academy.

We learnt traditional gamelan songs like Timang Burung, Togok, Lambang Sari and more. These were classic slow paced soothing music. Three years later, I joined the GiS gamelan group under the patronage of Angela Hijaz and we learned the Balinese gamelan at her celebrated estate Rimbun Dahan under the strict and watchful eyes of a Javanese Master, Pak Wayan. The gamelan was fast paced and more intricate. My daughter Iman joined the orchestra as well. Inas took the opportunity to continue her violin lessons with Pak Samsuddin Lamin who stayed nearby. Needless to say, those were lovely days.

The Gamelan Pahang of Malaysia originated from the Riau Lingga courts. A Lingga princess brought with her the full set of the gamelan orchestra when she was presented as a bride to the Pahang prince in 1811. The original set is kept at the Royal Museum in Pekan Pahang. In time, Tengku Mariam Sultan Ahmad took the gamelan to Terengganu in the early 1900s. There used to be 77 songs, faithfully recorded by the Pahang princess before she became the Sultanah of Terengganu. Now, less than 40 survive. As for the accompanying dances, less than 10 are actively performed.

This dance and song is the Lambang Sari which is an ode to the Malay princesses of old.

Lambang Sari, gak puteri

Terlindung dari pandangan
Indah gerak tari puteri
Bagai di dalam kayangan
Inilah lagu Lambang Sari

Damai di taman larangan
Nasi di hidang, sanggul di cucuk
Tapi apakan daya impian
Hati sayang diri berkecamuk

Nusantara berbelah bagi
Raja dan Sultan bermuafakat
Puteri ditugaskan pergi
Negeri berdamai, janji terikat

Gak Puteri membakar diri

Lambang Sari - The Song of The Princess

Hiding from mortal gaze
Swaying to the gentle breeze
Princesses at rest and play
Bewitching music of bamboo reeds

Enchanted garden, their sanctuary
A charmed life of royal proportions
Yet many trapped deep within
Yearning for her heart's desires

The peace of the land their charge
To be presented to her new liege
As bride, with accompanying entourage
With gifts and a silver box of betel leaves

Like a candle in the wind
Giving light, yet burning within

Finally I found a worthy recording of the dance Timang Burung, one of the most enchanting aand recognizable gamelan classic. The dancers are young but their subtle and precise form and movement promise the continuance of this art. Their movements depict that of a playful bird the princess Raden Galuh found on the beach.
Timang Burung

Raden Galuh eloknya puteri
Terkenal seluruh Nusantara
Cintanya pada Raden Inu Kertapati
Sehidup semati kiranya

Bila asyik rindu rinduan
Turun puteri bermain dipantai
Dapat seekor burung idaman
Bermain dia lemah gemalai

Menari inang menari nari
Dari pagi hingga ke petang
Cantik puteri berseri seri
Dari dulu hingga sekarang

The princess pined for her prince
Danced on the beach to sooth her heart
A bird of paradise had her bewitched
She swore they would never part

The next song is a classic recording of the dance and song Kunang Kunang Mabuk from the 1980s by the group SUKTRA of Terengganu Darul Iman. Pls ignore the first few irritating seconds...
Kunang Kunang Mabuk (Dazed Fireflies)

Bewitched by moonlight
The Firefly dances
Til it is time for flight
To meet the enchantress


My gamelan class at Actors Studio - Haris, Keiko, myself, Ana, Suchin, Maya and Candice with teachers from The Gamelan Club Susan, Gillian,Shahanum, Wai Fan, Engu and Datuk Faridah Merican.

Mum and Grandmother with Iman, Inas and Irani attended the graduation performance.

Poetry Copyright@2010 ninotaziz

6 commentaires:

Al-Manar a dit…

I read
Totally awed

You have so much
Making me so small
Wonderful touch
Letting it all

ninotaziz a dit…

Dear Pakcik,
How lovely. I miss my gamelan classes...maybe I have to venture to Terengganu for a new teacher.

Wan Sharif a dit…

Salam Ninot and PakChik,
For days I been thinking about putting a comment here.. but then I has read what pak Chik has written..

A short all inspiring poem..
in it own right..
But then he has earlier claimed that he do not know or do poem..
mm.. wonder who inspired all these

Wow whatever I write, it will be Tawor (trengganuspeak for tawar..) a very much watered down comparatively..

So here is my salutation to both of you..

Sherry Blue Sky a dit…

I read this post with great interest - what a beautiful culture! So rich in wonderful legends and stories. The dance is very very beautiful and I LOVE the music. My eyes are not good enough to have caught the name of the recording artist. I would actually buy such a recording as the music is beautiful - the dance is enchanting, and it must feel so peaceful and wonderful to perform it. You are setting a terrific example to your girls, and opening the world of music and theatre and art to them. Wonderful!

Cat-in-Sydney a dit…

Aunty Ninot,
We only have the recorded version over here. Mama used to trawl the pasar in Kota Bharu for such records. Couldn't find them in KT somehow. Oh, the local radio stations of KB and KT are also good sources of such songs. You see, we are somehow tutored in Malaysiana...though Mama picks and choose with great prejudice. purrr....meow!

Wan Sharif a dit…

Go ahead.. find a new gamelan teacher..

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