Gesang - Keroncong Asli
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Gesang Martohartono (b. 1917) is a renowned Indonesian singer-songwriter from central Java, and composer of the song Bengawan Solo, a tune which has become famous throughout Indonesia, Japan and much of Asia, and which is almost synonymous with the kroncong style of Javanese music. He is most commonly known simply as Gesang.
Gesang was born in the central Javanese city of Surakarta (Solo). His father owned a batik-fabric business, which however went bankrupt when Gesang was still in his teens, plunging the family into poverty. Gesang, a self-taught musician who was however illiterate in musical notation, supported himself and his family by writing songs and singing at local functions such as weddings and other formal occasions.
In 1940, during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in World War II, the impoverished 23 year-old musician composed a tune (using a flute) in the popular urban local style known as kroncong, a musical tradition of the region which combined Javanese chord progressions with Westernised vocal stylings, instrumental arrangements and melodies. The style had its origins in the 17th century Portuguese influences on the region, and was at the time associated with the urban poor and as such had somewhat of an unsavoury reputation, particularly among traditionalists.
For the lyrics, Gesang turned to the city's river for inspiration. The Bengawan Solo River is Java's longest river and most important waterway for trade and agriculture, and seemed to Gesang to symbolise the durability of Javanese culture in those troubled times. Gesang himself would later remark "I had dreamt since my childhood about writing a song of praise for the immortal Solo River".
- Sebelum Aku Mati
- Bengawan Solo
- Seto Ohasi
- Tembok Besar
- Keroncong Bumi Emas Tanah Airku
- Kalung Mutiara
- Keroncong Kemayoran
- Stb Tanpa Nama
- Pandan Wangi
- Keroncong Swasana Desa
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