Sing With Us: Javanese Folksong

SIng With Us Javanese Folksong Hero IMage
Thursday October 28, 5.30pm to Thursday November 11, 7.00pm

Learn the background and history of various types of Javanese folksong and learn to sing traditional Javanese music with renowned Javanese Gamelan and shadow puppet master Dr Joko Susilo as part of UNSW Diversity Fest.

There are three sessions to choose from: Thursday 28 October, Thursday 4 November and Thursday 11 November.

Among the splendours of the world, the sound of traditional Indonesian music is truly one of the most spectacular. On the islands of Java, Bali and Sumatra, Gamelan ensembles and traditional folk songs can be heard from royal courts, in urban centres and in the many towns and villages. Metallophone, gongs, drums flutes and stringed instruments are combined to offer an aural experience of tremendous beauty and form.

The traditional music learning process in Indonesia is based on imitation and requires no previous musical training. The music is absorbed gradually and naturally – through listening participants take in the idiom and the formal structures. The music is learnt from the simplest to the most complex in a gradual process that allows a broad understanding of the structure. Similarly, the communal aspect of Javanese music means it is instantly accessible to all levels from professional musicians to those with no previous musical experience!

Participants will be introduced to the cultural context of the music; the tradition of shadow puppets and puppeteers, masks and costumes, as well as learning to sing traditional pieces. Javanese music is tuneful and relaxing with layers of interlocking rhythms for you to enjoy and explore.

This event is supported by the UNSW Division of Equity Diversity & Inclusion, as part of Diversity Fest 2021


Free, limited spots available

Dr Joko SusiloAbout Dr Joko Susilo

On October 14, 1963 I was born at our family home in the village of Mojopuro in Central Java, Indonesia. As with my two sisters before me, my dalang father was away performing in another village at the time of my birth. Two other daughters were born into my family following my birth. My four sisters and myself were taught how to play the gamelan instruments and Javanese dance. My father, having come from a dalang family, began performing at the age of twelve years and studied shadow puppetry at the Kraton Kasunanan, Solo in 1952. My mother's father played the kendang and my mother learned how to play the balungan at a very young age.

When I was three years old my father began to take me to his performances and I began to gain knowledge of wayang stories, wayang characters and gamelan melodies. At ten years of age I performed my first all-night wayang kulit play.

In 1982 I graduated from high school and enrolled at the tertiary institution of Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia (STSI now called ISI) in Solo to study the art of shadow puppetry. I graduated in 1986 and became a lecturer in the pedalangan department at STSI in 1987. I continued to perform all-night wayang kulit plays and lecture at STSI until I travelled to New Zealand in 1993. I finished my doctorate at Otago University in 2000. Over the last 20 years I have been tutoring, lecturing and performing in New Zealand and around the world.

Since the Pandemic covid – 19 in 2020 I have been teaching Javanese song Macapat, and Javanese singing (Sindenan) online for students from the University of Paris (Nanterre), Hamburg Philharmony, Arnhem (Holland), Singapore and Australia.