Mekar Bhuana visits Selonding Expert in Karangasem
On Sunday, we (Vaughan, Sudama, Sadera and Suwida) took a trip to Karangasem. Our mission was to meet Srimpu Tusan from Bebandem to learn more about Yayasan Selonding and his magnus opus Selonding – Tinjauan Gamelan Bali Kuna Abad X – XIV. Yayasan Selonding was founded by Srimpu based on his research across Bali and Java, and aims to preserve, document and educate about gamelan selonding. We were warmly welcomed by Srimpu and chatted for hours about the importance of helping others become aware of the beauty of selonding and the many different styles that he has documented in Balinese villages.
He explained to us that selonding was originally found all over Bali and in parts of Java. “Most people in Bali only know of the selonding music from Tenganan because that style is popularised and recordings of it are available commercially, but there are many other existing styles, not only in Karangasem, but also in other parts of Bali, that need to be documented and appreciated.” Srimpu hopes to improve access to rarer styles and with his duplicate set of instruments, people can study from local experts in a secular context, therefore opening the opportunity for others to learn and help understand and preserve this beautiful music. We also learnt that all selonding sets are different, with a different number and different order of keys. In addition, contrary to popular belief, not all selonding are made from iron; there are also a number of bronze sets. The information we got from Srimpu was both educational and enlightening, and it is clear that he is a man deeply passionate about these archaic traditions that are desperately in need of attention and preservation for future generations of musicians, music lovers, researchers and composers worldwide.
Since our meeting, Srimpu has requested that Mekar Bhuana become involved with Yayasan Selonding to help expose its educational programmes to a wider audience both on a local and international scale. Now the foundation has a Facebook page (Yayasan Selonding) and there are plans to source funding to republish, redesign and relayout Srimpu’s 534-page selonding book (which is currently out of print), which will also be translated into English by indOKiwi “linguistic & cultural solutions”. The book will then be circulated in bookstores locally and online, as well as libraries and educational institutions worldwide. Keep an eye out for updates on this on www.balimusicanddance.com as well as on their Facebook page.