Javanese vocal style dates back to the introduction of Islam in the 14th century and is based on the macapat, a form of poetry with a rigidly defined structure and widespread use in the arts. Performed either with solo voice or supported by kacapi zither or “reduced gamelan” (kacapi, drums, and gong), these poems highlight the intricacies of voice colored by nasal intonations and melismatic ornamentation. As the liner notes state, macapatsinging is of “as much interest in villages as in princely courts, and sung by street singers as well as in the theater.”
The songs on the recording are performed by celebrated dalang (puppeteer/performer) R.S. Banjaransari, the Central Javanese troubadour Sunarto, and acclaimed female singer and radio host Niken Larasati.
This album is part of the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music. More than 125 albums are being released by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to make the series publicly available again, including more than a dozen never-released albums of musical traditions from around the globe.