Acquired: during the Reign of Sultan Hamengku Buwana VIII
Type of Gamelan: common practice–modernized
K.K. Siratmadu (‘radiance honey”) is, I believe, the first gamelan pélog to enter the palace as half of a paired sléndro-pélog set of modern common-practice gamelans manufactured as such. Along with K.K. Madukentir (“honey current”), its sléndro counterpart, K.K. Siratmadu was commissioned in 1901 by Pangeran (Prince) Puruboyo, who twenty years later was to become the Eighth Sultan (reign 1921-1939). One peculiarity of their instrumentations is that both sets include an archaic melodic instrument called cluring, otherwise found only in the very old gamelan pusaka K.K. Kancilbelik. We can only speculate that it was the prince’s admiration of this revered old set that prompted him to order cluring for these otherwise modern sets. From the time of their introduction into the palace in the 1920s up to the present K.K. Siratmadu and K.K. Madukentir have been considered general purpose gamelans used for dance accompaniment and especially for concert performance (uyon-uyon). Along with four other sléndro-pélog pairings of common practice palace gamelans, K.K. Siratmadu and K.K. Madukentir have been used in rotation over the past several decades for uyon-uyon Hadiluhung broadcasts and for dance rehearsal accompaniment.
According to palace gamelan inventories of the 1930s and 1940s, K.K. Siratmadu already had a gendèr panembung, two gendèr penerus, and a clempung in it along with all the other instruments one would expect in a modern common practice gamelan pélog, including six kenong jaler and six kempul. These inventories make no mention of a slentho, gambang gangsa, or a cluring in this set, which suggests they were made without these archaic instruments. Apparently, since a cluring does now exist for this gamelan, it either was not in use at the times of the inventories or was added at a later date.
K.K. Siratmadu and K.K. Madukentir have identical casings, decorative motifs, and coloring. They are painted a dark red and have a vegetation carving motif highlighted in matte gold. Seen at the center of the tebungan (front board) of the gendèr-type instruments facing the audience and also above the gong racks encircled by the tails of naga (mythological serpents) is a stylized monogram consisting of the entwined letters (Roman) P, B, and J. These letters are taken from the name of the Eighth Sultan at the time he commissioned the sets—Puruboyo, which at the time was spelled Poeroebojo.
This pair of gamelans was in use on a daily basis during the first four months of my research period in 1982. During subsequent visits in 1989, 1999, and 2007, I did not encounter them, which did not alarm me because the palace possesses so many fine sets that at any one time only a small number of them are in use. However, during my most recent visit in 2016 I did once again encounter Madukentir-Siratmadu–in storage at dalem Yudhonegaran, the residence of G.B.P.H. Yudhaningrat, the head of the palace’s performing arts office (Kridhamardawa). Yudhaningrat showed me some keys on a saron that displayed spots of discoloration, signaling decay in the bronze. I could not get a sense of how widespread the problem was, but it was serious enough in Gusti Yudhaningrat’s mind to warrant the sets being pulled from active duty in the palace. Their casings were also in need of repainting, especially the gold highlight which has become dull in appearance. Fast-forward to 2020, these sets have been returned to service. For the Hadiluhung broadcasts in October, November, and December of that year, the two sets, newly repainted with a vibrant, glossy gold paint now used to highlight their carving, were set up in Bangsal Srimanganti, where these three Hadiluhung ceremonies took place (they can be seen on the YouTube Hadiluhung documentations for October, November, and December, 2020). I am not aware of what, if any, mitigation in regard to the bronze decay has taken place, but, to my ear, the two gamelans sound every bit as wonderful as they did when I first heard them in 1982.
gong ageng (2)
gong siyem/suwukan (3)
kenong jaler (6)
kenong japan (1)
bonang penembung (1)
bonang barung (1)
bonang penerus (1)
saron demung (2)
saron ricik/barung (4)
gendèr penembung/slenthem (1)
gendèr barung (2)
gendèr penerus (2)
gambang kayu (2)
kendhang ageng/gendhing (1)
kendhang ketipung (1)
kendhang alit/batangan (1)
bendhé (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
bedhug (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
rebab (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
siter (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
kemanak (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
kecèr (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
keprak (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
tambur (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
Audio and Video Clips:
Audio 1 [Ladrang Gati Main-main, laras pélog pathet barang, performed on K.K. Siratmadu, November 26, 1982. Played in loud style (soran).]
Audio 2 [Ladrang Grompol, laras pélog pathet barang, performed on K.K. Siratmadu, November 26, 1982. Played in soft style (lirehan).]