Thursday, January 07, 2010

Street sitar

I was walking to work a few weeks ago when I came across this Javanese woman, dressed all in batik, playing and singing for money. I stopped to record and she told me the instrument was a sitar. It's smaller than the Indian kind and played in the lap instead of guitar-style. Despite these differences, I suspect it's a throwback to the old Javanese Hindu kingdoms of the 14th century.

While she was singing, a snack vendor (dumplings, I think) came by and added his own rhythm to the mix.



All I had on me was a 50,000 rupiah note (about $5 US) so I gave it to her. Then she chased me down the street trying to sell me the sitar.

7 comments:

michele said...

wow, that's great. do you know what she was singing about? it sounded beautiful and a bit haunting.

johnorford said...

nice video...

mr_john said...

I would have called that a kacapi, but that's the Sundanese word for it... I don't know what it is in Javanese...

The Indonesian wikipedia page on Sitar is unhelpful...

kopisusu2 said...

Do you have one, John?

This much I know, M: it's an old traditional Javanese love song. I need someone who knows Low Javanese to translate it, and so far everyone I've asked speaks High Javanese. I'm sure I'll find someone sufficiently low soon, though, haha ...

mr_john said...

I've got the Sundanese version which looks kind of similar, but is tuned differently and is played a bit more like a pedal steel (except without a steel and both hands are picking). Whereas this one is played with thumbpicks.

Hmmm, ah, here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_T17sv1JYY&feature=related

mr_john said...

On the meaning, from 'ora' ('no' in low Javanese, I think high Javanese is 'boten') I can verify that it is indeed low Javanese, but that's all I can make out...

Do you know Wiwid from frisbee? He could easily translate it for you. I'll introduce you on Facebook.

kopisusu2 said...

Thanks!