The Living Death of Artists

It was not the first time I saw them sitting on the dirty floor, right in front of Sroto Eling-Eling at Jl. Lapangan Roos Raya, Tebet, performing traditional Javanese songs, but at that time after finishing my affair with the delicious Sroto (I skipped the hot and oily mendoan), I decided to greet them, asked a few short questions and took their photos. Photos of the living death of old traditional Javanese artists.

What a coincidence, as I stopped at that place while I was on the way to the Jakarta Convention Center to enjoy JavaJazz Festival, where modern artists play in nice and well arranged stages using modern musical instruments, supported with hundred thousand watts of powerful sound systems that can make your heart rattled. It was really a stark contrast.


This man who skilfully played kendang and bambu (bamboo) bass, always showed serious and gloomy face, and looked quite fragile.


The sitar player, who looked a bit brighter and more optimistic than the kendang-man, came from East Java, while this sinden (female vocalist of traditional Javanese songs) who gave cheerful smiles once in a while came from somewhere in Magelang, Central Java, and so did the kendang-man and the other sinden.




The sound of bambu bass could hardly be heard, beaten by the noisy voice of motorcycles, bajaj, and cars from the street. I had to stand very close to him to hear its unique sound.


The opened box in front of the sinden is where people put their money to show their appreciation towards the music and the artists.


The other sinden, with troubled face, looked old and unhappy, but her voice was still quite good and she clapped her hands rhythmically to follow the music.

Music and songs are the food for hearts that sometimes can even touch one's soul. No matter where the artists perform their works, those who have good hearts will always respond and show their appreciation to the artists.

You can see the group performance every Saturday and Sunday, starting from 11 am to 5 pm, at Sroto Eling-Eling, Jl. Lapangan Roos Raya, and on working days you can see them at Ayam Goreng Tohjoyo at Blok-M area, starting at 11 am. Hope owners of those two warung will eventually be so kind to provide them a simple place for them to perform their works.
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