K.K. Madumurti

Acquired: during the Reign of Sultan Hamengku Buwana VIII
Type of Gamelan: common practice–modernized
Tuning: sléndro

One of the three gendèr barung of the gamelan pair K.K. Madumurti and K.K. Madukusuma.

K.K. Madumurti (“honey body”) is a very fine gamelan sléndro that was gifted along with the gamelan pélog K.K. Madukusuma (“honey flower”) to the Eighth Sultan by the Chinese music connoisseur and Yogyakarta resident Li Jing Kim.[1] In all likelihood both sets were known by other names while in the possession of Li, and both may have originally had pre-modern instrumentations but were either bought as or updated to fully modern instrumentation standards by him. Whether these sets were given to the Sultan as a token of Li’s loyalty while Li was alive or willed to the Sultan is unclear,[2] but apparently the two gamelans became part of the palace collection sometime in the late-1930s.[3] The relationship between ethnic Chinese and the Javanese has for centuries been complicated and tense, and Chinese Indonesians in general have often been culturally aligned more with China than with the Indonesian culture of the area in which they reside. However, in central Java, there appears to have been a few individuals in some generations who develop a strong interest in Javanese culture and arts, and Li Jing Kim apparently was one such individual. A monument situated in the Srimenganti courtyard of the palace suggests he wasn’t alone in the Yogyakarta Chinese community. Although planned to be presented in 1940 but delayed until 1952, well after Li’s death, the monument seeks to portray a harmonious relationship between the Chinese of Yogyakarta and the palace. Perhaps Li’s gift of K.K. Madumurti-K.K. Madukusuma was made in the same spirit. This monument will be returned to a few paragraphs below.

K.K. Madumurti, alone or in tandem with its pélog counterpart K.K. Madukusuma, has no specific ceremonial associations in the palace. Together the two sets are part of the rotation of sléndro-pélog pairings of common practice palace gamelans used for uyon-uyon Hadiluhung broadcasts. They are also used for dance rehearsal accompaniment and for public and private palace ceremonies and celebrations involving dance (beksan), dance drama (wayang wong), and shadow puppet theatre (wayang kulit). The two gamelans have, at least once, travelled abroad with palace performers as part of Indonesian cultural missions. One such mission was to the United States in 1990 as part of the 18-month Festival of Indonesia.

As far as I can tell, K.K. Madumurti was a fully modern gamelan for the time at which it entered the palace. Because this gamelan to this day possesses a slenthoan archaic instrument that is typical of sets made well before 1900, it seems likely that this is a 19th century pre-modern gamelan that some owner, possibly Li Jing Kim, had modernized before it entered the palace late in the 1930s. The earliest palace inventory of which I am aware to include K.K. Madumurti lists that it contained a gènder panembung, a gènder penerus, a clempung, a kendhang alit, five kenong jaler, four kempul, and three gong siyem, all instruments that modern common practice gamelans of the 1930s and beyond and modernized pre-modern sets of that time would contain. When I saw K.K. Madumurti in storage in 1999, it possessed five kempul (one more than in the earlier inventory). Another discrepancy between the palace inventory of the early 1940s and what I saw in 1999 is found in the set’s saron section: the inventory lists three saron demung and six saron ricik; in 1999 there were only two saron demung and four saron ricik. Also noteworthy regarding the instrumentation of this gamelan is that it contains a saron peking (many older palace sets do not) and a kemong (only new or recently updated palace gamelan sléndro have this instrument). For a full list of this set’s contents as of 1999 see the inventory below.

Although the base color of K.K. Madumurti is described in the early 1940s as “purple eggplant” (wungu terong), today it is a dark brown with gold highlight set off against a reddish-brown background. While the appearance of all the gendèr-type instruments in this and its kindred pélog set, K.K. Madukusuma, is identical (see image at the top of this page), the basic motifs used on most of the rest of their instruments differ significantly. K.K. Madumurti has Chinese mythological creatures such as the phoenix and qilin displayed on many of its instruments, and the kedhok figure framed by mirong appears on the shoulders of its saron instruments. The dragon figure is reminiscent of the decoration found on the base of the inscription given to the Ninth Sultan by the Chinese citizens of Yogyakarta in 1952, which is located in the Srimenganti courtyard of the palace (see image at the bottom of this page). An obviously recent addition to the vocabulary of imagery seen on this set is found atop its gong ageng rack–a H.B. royal emblem (lambang), red background with gold highlight, is framed by the same two seed-bearing crows and lunglungan that are seen on a number of other palace sets.[4]

gong ageng (1, shared with K.K. Madukusuma)
gong siyem/suwukan (2)
kempul (5)
kenong jaler (5)
kenong japan (1)
kethuk (1)
kemong (1)
bonang penembung (1)
bonang barung (1)
bonang penerus (1)
saron demung (2)
saron ricik/barung (4)
saron peking (1)
slentho (1)
gendèr penembung/slenthem (1)
gendèr barung (1)
gendèr penerus (1)
gambang kayu (1)
clempung/celempung (1)
kendhang ageng/gendhing (1, shared with K.K. Madukusuma)
kendhang ketipung (1, shared with K.K. Madukusuma)
kendhang alit/batangan (1, shared with K.K. Madukusuma)
suling (5, shared with K.K. Madukusuma)
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)
kecèr (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)
keprak (general use instrument shared with other gamelans)

Audio and Video Clips:

Audio 1 [Ladrang Semingin, laras sléndro pathet sanga, performed on K.K. Madumurti. Excerpt from Yogyakarta: Gamelans of the Kraton. 1 CD. Celestial Harmonies 13161-2. ©1997. Track 2. Played in loud style (soran).]

Audio 2 [Ladrang Pangkur, laras sléndro pathet sanga, performed on K.K. Madumurti. Excerpt from wayang wong rehearsal recorded through PA system mixer at Pagelaran, Kraton Yogyakarta, February 18, 1983 (lirahan and soran).]

The Chinese dragon figure at the base of the palace Chinese-Kraton inscription monument, and which echoes the dragon motif on several casings of the gamelan K.K. Madumurti.