Degung : Sundanese Traditional Musical Ensemble and It is Not Gamelan

Honestly, I should have posted about this almost a year ago. Unfortunately, my laziness has prevented me to present this to all of you earlier. Forgive me for that.

It is about Degung, a Sundanese traditional musical ensemble.

I visited Flickr few days ago and found several pictures of what were called as “Gamelan Degung” uploaded by foreigners. It immediately attracted my attention.

The caption given on the picture, I believe should be corrected. Gamelan is Gamelan. Degung is Degung. Of course, it is understandable if foreigners mentioned like because both are more or less the same.

Both Gamelan and Degung use the same traditional musical instruments. It is not strange because both came from the same core of culture.

However, Sundanese people may feel a bit annoyed as well as Javanese because each of them represents different culture and should not be combined.

degung sundanese traditional musical arts B

Javanese is so proud about Gamelan in the same way Sundanese about Degung. It is an icon for each society.

Besides, you won’t hear Gamelan players play a Sundanese song using their instrument and you won’t find Degung’s team play a Javanese song.

Gamelan may be a bit more famous to overseas people than Degung but it doesn’t mean it is more superior.

Therefore, the term of Gamelan Degung is quite incorrect because it combines two separated culture and society into one.

degung sundanese traditional musical arts C

Anyway, three pictures on this article show than Degung is still alive in Bogor, a city that has been rapidly growing into a modern city.

The arts itself is “hidden”. It is not easy to find a Degung performance these days. Bogorians listen more to modern music.

However, quite many schools in Bogor have an extra lesson for anyone (youth) that won’t to learn about traditional music, like Degung. They were taught how to operate each instrument and played Sundanese traditional song.

I am lucky, that after quite long time not seeing any Degung performance, finally I could see once again. It was in my son’s graduation from Borcess (Bogor Center School) Junior High School.

It was quite nice. The music was unique but I enjoyed it. The most nicest thing by seeing the youths played Degung was to know that the arts is still alive, in Bogor, a city that was once a capital of the biggest Sundanese Kingdom.

It would be a shame if Degung disappears from the city. So, it’s quite a relief to find a fact that there were still people who try to preserve the traditional arts.

Mari Berbagi

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