Kagungan Dalem Gamelan
Acquired during the Reign of Sultan Hamengku Buwana I
Type: archaic--sekati
Tuning: pélog

Audio Clip

K.K. Gunturmadu (Thunder Honey) was the third of the three gamelan pusaka allotted to the First Sultan at the Treaty of Giyanti in 1755. It is an archaic form of gamelan called sekati, which is named after the event, Sekaten, in which it finds its primary use. Sekaten is a week-long festival leading up to the birthdate in the Muslim lunar calendar of the Prophet Muhammed. For Sekaten, K.K. Gunturmadu and its nearly identical twin K.K. Nagawilaga are carried in procession to the courtyard of the Mesjid Ageng (the Great Mosque of Yogyakarta, located just outside the palace walls) and placed, respectively, in the southern and northern pagongan (gamelan buildings). From these buildings palace musicians perform on these two sets in alternation almost continuously day and night for the six days preceding the birthday of Muhammed. The concept of using impressive musical ensembles to attract people to the mosque, which is essentially what Sekaten is about, is not a new idea. Indeed, the origin of the gamelan sekati is attributed to a time (the 16th Century) and place (the North Coast kingdom of Demak) when Islam was first gaining a foothold on the island of Java. Sunan Kalijogo, one of the nine Saints (wali) credited with introducing Islam to Java, hit upon the idea to position and perform a gamelan in the courtyard of the newly constructed Demak mosque to lure non-Muslims to the site, thus facilitating the Saints’ evangelistic efforts. Legend has it that the very same gamelan sekati used in Demak was inherited by later Javanese kings all the way down to the King of Surakarta in the mid-18th Century. It was this set that was divided by the Giyanti agreement, half of its instruments becoming the property of the new Sultan of Yogyakarta and constituting the core of the set that was completed in 1757 and named K.K. Gunturmadu.

Like many of the archaic gamelans in the Kraton Yogyakarta, K.K. Gunturmadu is painted a rich, dark red. The highlighting of the basic borders and some vegetation carving is gold, but the most pronounced carving motif--a majestic sawat (wings and tail feathers of the mythological garuda bird) that appears on several instrument surfaces--is highlighted in light blue and white.

The two gamelan sekati are used today exclusively for Sekaten, which means they are sounded only for six days each year. Although there are a few gendhing (gamelan pieces) performed solely on these two sets, numerous gendhing from the common practice repertoire are also performed on them. However, whether a gendhing is unique or not to the gamelan sekati, it is performed in a style that is peculiar to these sets. Because they lack several instruments found in common practice gamelans that fill in the spaces between the notes of slow moving melodies, the gamelan sekati performance style sounds sparser and less busy than that of common practice gamelan. It is a very stately style unique to these sets and to the context of sekaten.