By | August 11, 2010




In the world of karawitan there are many different ensembles, namely gamelan ageng, gadon, cokekan, and siteran. These ensembles are normally played for concert performances. Other related performing arts, such as dance, wayang kulit, wayang orang and kethoprak performances, usually use a gamelan ageng ensemble, with the exception of bedhaya and srimpi dances, which use a special ensemble called a kemanak ensemble. In addition, there are another four ensembles of ceremonial gamelan or gamelan pakurmatan, namely sekaten, monggang, kodhok ngorek, and corobalen ensembles. Each of these ensembles use different kinds of instruments. It is a fact that the kendhang is found in all these different kinds of ensembles, except for sekaten, in which case its role is substituted by the bedug. Therefore the existence and role of the drum (kendhang) (the player is called pengendhang) as the leader of the gamelan orchestra is of vital importance. The term pengendhang is used to refer to a kendhang player who has a high standard of virtuosity. This standard cannot be quantified in terms of numbers, but rather through the public opinion of the karawitan community.
To become a pengendhang of course involves a long process. It is this process that will be the focus of subject matter in this research. Moreover the existence of the pengendhang in all kinds of performance context is dominant. A quality which is actualized through the character, charisma, skill, and virtuosity of the pengendhang has the ability to bring a performance to life. It is a fact that in the real daily experience of musical activities, namely in concerts, including wayang kulit, wayang orang, kethoprak, and even dance performances, the existence of the pengendhang is the real determinant of success of the show. As one of the main instruments, and at the same time as the head of the gamelan orchestra, the pengendhang is always demanded to produce a perfect combination of musical elements, such as irama, laya, pattern, and accentuation. Furthermore, it is not easy for anyone to reach a level of competence as a pengendhang. It requires capability in aspects such as: technique, repertoire, pattern vocabulary, dance movements, and puppet movements, which are used as reference. It is no exaggeration for the karawitan community to give a high level of appreciation to the professionalism of the pengendhang, considering how huge and heavy the aesthetical load which is supported by the pengendhang as a substantial aesthetical factor of karawitan and other related performing arts.
The existence of the pengendhang as seen from a musical, individual, and social standpoint – three aspects which collectively are called musicianship – constitutes an interesting phenomenon to examine. Musicianship is a phenomenon that is not merely connected with aesthetical matters, but moreover is also related to social, cultural, and psychological matters. This is also the case with the creative journey of one of the prominent pengendhang from the one of Javanese cultural centres, Surakarta, namely Wakija Warsapangrawit. He constitutes a phenomenon of Javanese musicianship that is interesting to trace from a musical, individual, and social viewpoint.
Several musical aspects that he owns are patterns, kebukan (touching), the ability to maintain laya, and variants of patterns. One more important thing is that he has the ability to interpret the character of the piece that is being performed. In connection with this particular matter, Darsono, who is one of the best vocalists of Javanese karawitan, once stated in a discussion that: “ The articulation of Mas Wakidi’s touching (kebukan) is clearer than Mas Wakija’s, but when the two are compared, I would say that Mas Wakija’s is nicer” (June 3rd 2009). Therefore, some of the problems that needs to be solved objectively are where the aesthetic power lies and what are the distinctive features of Wakija’s drumming. The answers to these questions aim to appreciate his degree of artistry, and will also be useful to enrich the theoretical wealth of knowledge in the sphere of kendhangan.
The artistic work of Wakija is a result of the crystallization of the development of his individual potential which is not unrelated to various aspects such as his background and influences. Therefore, a number of questions about his personality, family background, education, social-cultural environment, and other aspects that have played a part in shaping his potential creativity need to be answered in order to expose who is Wakija Warsapangrawit as a whole.

Review of literature
The story of the career of Wakija Warsapangrawit as a gamelan musician and foremost as a kendhang player is essentially personal, social, and historical. Meanwhile, the musical aspect, as a result of these efforts, will be analyzed separately. Wakija Warsapangrawit as an individual has self motivation, he is part of a community, from the family, as the smallest unit, to the larger social milieu in which he lives. He has a historical background as well, as David Thomson says ‘Men to great extent do make their own history’(1974:58). His musicianship constitutes as achievement he had reached. Therefore in order to provide an explanation the life story of Wakija Warsapangrawit, this research involves several literatures that have connection with the topic. These include psychology, sociology, history, and musicology.

Motivation and issues
Biographical research of gamelan musicians has not yet been widely carried out even in Java. As far as researcher know, there is no written biography of Wakija Warsapangrawit. In the researcher’s opinion, the name Wakija Warsapangrawit as a drummer has been accepted in the realm of the karawitan community. I decided to carry out this research about Wakija Warsapangrawit for several reasons, including the documentation of knowledge and the transfer of knowledge and scientific wealth. For these reasons I have decided to write my thesis on this topic.
This choice is based on several reasons, each of which is interconnected and mutually supported. Firstly, it is thought to be urgent to document Wakija Warsapangrawit’s drumming in general, and his style in particular. The karawitan community in Solo realizes that Wakija Warsapangrawit is one of its best drummers. Wahyopangrawit, who was one of the best rebab players, cited that Wakija Warsapangrawit is the best kendang player for klenengan , wayang kulit , and dance, and described his style as ‘classical’. Furthermore Wahyopangrawit also spoke about Wakija Warsapangrawit’s deep knowledge of wayang kulit and dance movements. This knowledge contributes to the effectiveness of his kendang playing (conversation on October 2, 2000 at Juwiring, Klaten, Surakarta). Meanwhile, another leading Solo musician, Darsono, in a conversation a few days earlier, described Wakija Warsapangrawit as the best kendhang player for classical klenengan style, as witnessed below:

He [Wakija Warsapangrawit] is completely careful in maintaining the tempo. According to the elders [musicians] Wakija’s drumming is said to be tèmbel [full] … compared to others, when taking rice, he can always get more than the others, moreover it [the sound of the drum] is bright.

He is considered to be an all-round drummer, for klenengan, dance, and wayang kulit. Secondly, as a gamelan musician myself, researcher astonished at his expertise in playing drum. Therefore, through this effort researcher would hope to absorb as much as possible the sophisticated drumming he plays in order to increase my own musicianship. The third reason for my choice of topic is my geographical and cultural proximity to my subject.
Outline of the approach
It is evident that the life story of Wakija Warsapangrawit is multi-dimensional. Therefore, in order to expose his life story several approaches are needed, including a psychological, sociological, historical, and musicological approach. In this context, the social and historical aspects are interpreted as a unitary process. The analysis of these aspects begins with an observation of the family background as the smallest community, then continues with an explanation of the social and historical background. As has been mentioned above, the scope of this problem is broad. Therefore, in order to provide a sharp analysis, the discussion of this problem needs to be limited. This discussion includes a description of how Wakija Warsapangrawit began to learn gamelan music and develop his ability; the way he developed his ability must be examined in order to determine both its weaknesses and strengths; and the features of his drumming. These three variables have something to do with the social situation, especially in terms of the social aspect of gamelan music. In accordance with this, the discussion mainly exposes the gamelan music activities that Wakija Warsapangrawit has been involved in.
Wakija Warsapangrawit grew up in a neighborhood of gamelan musicians where there were many related performing arts activities. His father was an excellent guitarist and kroncong musician, and also sometimes played gamelan just for fun. When he was child, there were a lot of gamelan activities, e.g. practices and performances in his kampung . It seems that initially he began to become an accomplished gamelan musician through his appreciation and active participation in these activities. By considering these facts, this means he had a strong internal motivation to learn gamelan music both seriously and energetically. This phenomenon is in line with the concept of educational psychology developed by C.G. Jung. This cites that a child’s behavior is more or less identical to the behavior of his or her parents or people in the neighborhood where he or she lives. Since the collective unconscious domain of the child exists, some elements in the collective unconscious are fostered and nurtured by the child’s parents and/or neighborhood. In other words, the parents and neighborhood have an important role in shaping a child’s personality. This concept has been applied in order to expose the external influences in Wakija Warsapangrawit’s learning of gamelan music. Of course, it must also be remembered that co-existing with these external influences are Wakija Warsapangrawit’s personal motivations for playing this music, which cannot be underestimated. In this case researcher have tried to apply the intersection theory introduced by Amabile, which states that creative success is an intersection between a child’s domain skills, the skill to think and work creatively, and intrinsic motivation, or internal motivation (Utami Munandar, 2002:110).
A human being is a creature whose physical and psychological development progresses naturally. The development of the psychical aspect is studied by means of a psychological approach, namely development psychology. According to the theory of convergence that was introduced by W. Stern, personality is formed by outside influences and inside gifts (Agus Sujanto, 1993: 211). It is also stated by H.C. Warpen, as quoted by Kartini Kartono, in the work Teori Kepribadian, that:
Personality is the entire mental organization of a human being at any stage of his development. It embraces every phrase of human character, intellect, temperament, skill, morality, and every attitude that has been built up in the course of one’s life (1980:11).

In this context, researcher have utilized Stern and H.C. Warpen’s theories to expose the development of Wakija’s personality and broadened it to include the competence of his musical development, since personality in terms of human intellect is believed to have a possible influence on musical developments.
The shaping of Wakija Warsapangrawit as musician came about as a result of ‘bargaining’ between the antecedent and consequent of his social milieu. All human beings who have trodden this earth have been completely embedded in the culture of their community. The testimony of historians on earlier periods and of contemporary primitive societies agree on this point (John W. Gardner, 1976:58). The man embedded in a traditional society hardly thinks of himself as separate or separable from his group. He is engulfed by his culture. He accepts the traditions, beliefs and way of life of his group so completely that he is not even aware that he is accepting them. He is a culturally defined man. A community as a phenomenon always has a temporal dimension; it owns both future projection, such as goals and reliance, and it is also past oriented, in traditions and social values for example. According to a number of statements by social scientists, social reality constitutes a historical process, namely social development through several phases. Each of these goes continuously between antecedent and consequent, intertwined with structures and patterns, all of which show a social interaction in the past time (Sartono Kartodirjo, 1982: 97). These two ideas of social scientists have been applied in order to expound the social side that surrounds Wakija Warsapangrawit.
It is necessary for the biographer to be aware that when confronted with such a mountain of verified or verifiable facts, that it is necessary to discard those which are obscure, and keep only those that are relevant to the objective of the study. In order to provide an historical nuance in this thesis, researcher have borrowed the idea of David Thomson in his work entitled The Aims of History, as quoted below:
Like the functions of the dramatic producer or the orchestral conductor, his job is a multiple one: to produce coherence and cohesion from the of others; to create a harmonious and meaningful whole, combining inner objectivity with subjectivity imagination; and to transmit to a non-specialized public, historical learning which can offer cultural satisfaction and educational benefit. The eventual result should be … as ‘an opportunity of a unique intellectual experience, a rigorous form of mental training which has high educational value, and a stimulus of imagination and understanding which can enrich a man’s life by deeper insight into human behavior’ (1974:100-101).

This biographical research is about a gamelan musician, therefore it inevitably involves an ethnomusicology approach. The study of ethnomusicology as a new scientific discipline has been developed by western scholars since the end of the nineteenth century. Its roots may be traced to the eighteenth century ( Barbara Krader, 1980: 276 ). Since the eighteenth century what we have come to call world music has been the object of its scholarly study. Over time, approaches, methodologies and field research techniques involving musical and social concepts have been developed. Further development was marked by the growing interest of western ethnomusicologists in carrying out cross-cultural fieldwork. Since the late nineteenth century the expansion of a European style of education has influenced local artists in their way of thinking about gamelan. In accordance with this statement, Sumarsam in his dissertation states as below:

Actually the thinking about gamelan proposed by some prominent nationalists and the founding of gamelan schools were the result of the expansion of European-style education, which began in the late nineteenth century. Western–style education also brought the development of gamelan scholarship. Particularly, the influence of the intellectual atmosphere in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led to a European way in which Javanese elite and Europeans elucidated Javanese performing arts. With the expansion of the technology and the presence of Dutch scholars and connoisseurs of the arts, this period witnessed a proliferation of gamelan writings. Of these writings, the work of a Dutch scholar, Jaap Kunst (1949), was widely known to both Western and Javanese scholars. It was through Kunst and his work that gamelan became an important subject of study in western ethnomusicology, a discipline Kunst had an important role in developing. Subsequently, gamelan study, in theory and practice, flourished in Western countries. Gamelan theories developed by western ethnomusicologists became important reference in ethnomusicology (1992:16-17).

As a result, since the mid twentieth century several western ethnomusicologists have carried out research into Javanese gamelan. It seems that they agree with an opinion suggested by Mantle Hood:

The basic study and training which develops musicality is known by several names: musicianship, fundamentals of music, solfeggio. I have never heard a musician suggest that this sine qua non might be passed, that the beginner should start with musical analysis or criticism. The training of ears, eyes, hands and voice and fluency gained in these skills assure a real comprehension of theoretical studies, which in turn prepare the way for the professional activities of the performer, the composer, the musicologist and the music educator (1959:55).

Western ethnomusicologists such as Jaap Kunst, Mantle Hood, Judith Becker, and Martin Hatch, or the younger generation, such as Anderson Sutton, Neil Sorrell, Marc Perlman, Jennifer Lindsay, Benjamin Brinner, and Marc Benamou are all familiar with the intricacies of gamelan music. Their published accounts have become important references for gamelan students in the world. It is fitting at this point to also mention several local Indonesian ethnomusicologists, such as Sri Hastanto, Rahayu Supanggah, Sumarsam, Harjosusilo, and Santosa. These foreign and local scholars play an important role in developing concepts and theories of gamelan music. Several of their ideas will be incorporated into this thesis. Some biographical theses that have been written about gamelan musicians also enrich the reference material available in study of gamelan music. These include the theses of Waridi, Darsono, Sumanto, and several others.
A variety of the approaches used by the above musicologists will be used in the process of this thesis as an object of comparison in this research. It will also be found to contain several similarities, as nobody denies that recent developments have grown out of the previous results. Opinion never just appears out of a vacuum in the mind of the researcher, and there are usually several researchers working simultaneously on familiar endeavors. Like most biographical research, the emphasis here is on the descriptive method. This method constitutes a procedure of problem-solving by revealing the condition of its object based on the appearance of facts (Hadari Nawawi,1983:63). A biography may mean a life story of someone with special emphasis on his or her contribution and role in social life. Practically, there are numerous similarities between writing history and biography, especially in the usage of source materials. In connection with this matter researcher have followed Gilbert Garraghan, in Historical Method, as below:
Practically the same problems in the use of source materials confront historians and biographers alike. Each is bound by the same rules of rigorous criticism in testing first the authenticity, and then the trustworthiness of the sources on which he draws. Each, no matter how bent on turning out a readable and even entertaining book, is held by the same inexorable cannons not to do violence to the facts, not to go beyond the evidence. Probably the temptation to do so maybe the greater in the case of the biographer, whose understandable sympathy with his subject may easily lead him to overstep the bounds of truthful and verifiable statement (1948:241).

In the realm of gamelan music, particularly in Solo, the name Wakija is very well known as a drummer (pengendhang). This statement is supported by the opinion of ethnomusicologist, Benjamin Brinner:
In this section, however, the kendhang was played by Wakidja, a widely recorded and emulated drummer who is also a fine rebab player. His knowledge of the piece clearly extends beyond the minimum necessary for his role, … notably Tukinem, Wakidja, and Wahyapangrawit – are famous enough to serve as exemplars of it through recordings, broadcasts and live performance (Brinner,1995 : 15-16 ).

His ciblon drumming style has greatly influenced many of the younger and even the older drummers in and around Solo. This phenomenon is due in no small part to the extremely active role he has had in the recording industry – to date playing kendhang on more than one hundred commercial cassettes. In 1955, he joined the dance company Dharma Budhaya; furthermore he became well-known for his wayangan drumming as a result of regular performances with several famous dhalang such as Ki Warsina, Ki Gito Brayut, Ki Kasno, and Ki Anom Suroto. In the 1980s, he was in charge of a gamelan group known as Kridha Irama. Although in the past he has also played with several dancers and for performances of kethoprak , nowadays his work is largely focused in klenengan circles. These facts prove that his musicianship, particularly his drumming, is of an extremely high standard.
Through looking at the process of how his kendhangan has developed to such a high level of excellence without the benefit of a formal education, we can also draw some interesting conclusions on the strengths and weaknesses of musical education programs. We should not be surprised to find that most aspiring gamelan musicians are not given any lessons directly, and they have to find their own instruction while on the job or while performing in a tarub. In other words, these tarub experiences have fostered his musical maturity.
The approach I have taken to writing the biography of Wakija includes looking at several media of resources. These include oral resources, audio-visual recordings, and written resources. The data obtained from the orally transmitted resources is the most important considering the scarcity of the written data available. The testimony of several informants of the research target about events in the past have to be accepted as the truth. The following is a formulation of the set of problems which needs to be solved through this research.
– How did Wakija learn to play kendhang?
– How does Wakija’s process of learning gamelan music compare with the learning system which exists today?
– What are the distinctive features of Wakija Warsapangrawit’s drumming?

Research process
This research is divided into three different stages, i.e. collecting the data, analysis of the data, and reporting the data. The initial work of collecting data has been done through the following methods: direct observation, interviews, audio visual studies, and bibliographical studies. The direct observation was carried out when Wakija Warsapangrawit performed live, such as at klenengan Anggara Kasih and Jum’at Wage . In this work, researcher have observed the movements of his hands and fingers in order to produce the sound. Moreover, as this biographical research includes field research, in accordance with its name, most of the supporting data was gathered in the field through interviews with several informants who are recognised as being leading authorities in the field of Solonese gamelan playing. The choice of these informants was based on several considerations, such as an expert knowledge of the subject as well as experience in working together with the subject. Therefore, its status is considered as the primary method. The list of informants are as follows:
 Wahyopangrawit, 71 years, a musician particularly well-known as a rebab player. He has known Wakija Warsapangrawit since 1956, and subsequently they both worked as musicians of the prominent puppeteer Ki Anom Suroto, and also in the Radio Station gamelan group.
 Rahayu Supanggah, 61 years, a musician particularly well-known as a kendhang player. He has played gamelan with Wakija Warsapangrawit for some recording programs and live klenengan performances, namely Anggara kasih, Pujangga Laras, etc.
 Darsono, 61 years, a musician particularly well-known as a kendhang player. Since the 1970s he has played gamelan in tarub events with Wakija Warsapangrawit.
 Panut, 68 years, a musician particularly well-known as vocalist. He has been a friend of Wakija Warsapangrawit since the 1950s, when he was a dancer in Darma Budaya and PMS art companies. Nowadays they still meet to play gamelan in the event of Anggara Kasih and Pujangga Laras performances.
 Hartono, 67 years, a musician particularly well-known as a kendhang player. He is a musician from the Mangkunegaran Palace
 Wahyudi Sutrisna, 48 years, a musician particularly well-known as a kendhang player. His style has been more or less influenced by Wakija Warsapangrawit’s own style.
 Mujiono, 74 years, a musician particularly well-known as a kendhang player.
 Suyadi, 62 years, a musician who plays rebab and bonang barung, and is particularly well-known as a kendhang player.
 Ki Anom Suroto, 65 years, one of the best puppeteers in Solo. Wakija Warsapangrawit worked with him for about eleven years.
Along with these informants’ accounts, I will also endeavor to support this biography with literary and audio-visual resources. These will be further enhanced by photos, personal notes, certificates, etc. In connection with this context, Garraghan, in A Guide to Historical Method, states that:
Again, the biographer has very often to base his work on private correspondence, diaries, memories, and similar personal material, the use of which for purposes of accurate information can easily have its risks. All the greater need for him, therefore, to be discriminating in the use of his sources (1948:242).

This research involves several relevant informants who know the subject well. The events (Anggarah Kasih and Jum’at Wage) to be observed are chosen because it is felt that it is at these events that Wakija plays kendhang at his finest. This is as a result of several factors. Firstly, other high-ranking musicians push Wakija to show his skill. Secondly, these events are informal, thus we can expect to see his natural playing style.
The supporting data derived from literary resources is in the form of books, articles, theses and research reports. Audio visual resources include commercial cassette recordings and personal cassette recordings on which Wakija Warsapangrawit performs. I have used these cassettes to analyze Wakija Warsapangrawit’s drumming style. While for preparing a transcription I have used the recording of the launching of gamelan Nyai Madu Sari which was held in August 1995.
The field observation is intended to gather information directly on Wakija Warsapangrawit’s drumming. Interviews took the form of my inviting the informant to tell as much as he knows about the subject in an informal manner, as well as in a more formal setting where questions were prepared beforehand. The two ways are cross checked with each other. The last method is gathering data through an audio visual recording. This work was done in order to make a transcription and to analyze the distinctive features of Wakija Warsapangrawit’s drumming.

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