SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Lila Cita: Lovers of Beauty - Gamelan Semar Pagulingan

Lila Cita (pronounced 'Leela Cheetah") can  be translated as 'amusement of the heart' or 'happiness'

Lila Cita are the UK's premier Balinese gamelan performing group, and were founded in 1992 by Andy Channing to specialise in playing a wide range on Balinese music. The group performs regularly throughout the UK and abroad, at venues such as the Founacion la Caixa in Barcelona, St. James's Palace, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southwark Cathedral and the Glastonbury Festical, alsways giving spectacular concerts with dancers from its sister group 'Lila Bhawa'.

Lila Cita recently had the honour of performing at the prestigious Bali Arts Festival in July 2006.

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The Instruments

A Balinese gamelan is an elaborate percussion orchestra comprising bronze gongs and metallophones. The larger metallophones play the core melody, which is punctuated by various gongs and embellished (with complex interlocking melodic and rhythmic patterns) by smaller metallophones, a row of small gong-chimes and a bamboo flute. The ensemble is led by a pair of drums.

Puja Semara Kanti, the gamelan featured on this recording, as a semar pagulingan pitu, a type of gamelan which is now rare but was once the favourite of the Balinese kings because of its uniquely subtle tome. This gamelan flourished in the Balinese courts of the 17th to 19th centuries and was played outside the royal sleeping chamber in the inner courtyard of the palace. Semara is the god of love and pagulingan means 'sleeping'. Saih pitu (row of seven) refers to the seven-tone pelog scale utilised in a variety of five-tone modes. The traditional repertory derives rom gamelan gambuh, the music for the ancient court dance-drama.

Semar Pagulingan almost became extinct in the 20th century, with the decline of the feudal system and the increasing dominance of gamelan gong kebyar - most sets were melted down and re-fashioned into gong kebyar. Recently, however, it seems to be undergoinga renaissance, with new sets being forged and groups performing  both traditional pieces and new compositions. All of the pieces featured on the CD are used to accompany dance, and many of them were specially written for Lila Cita, one of the very few ensembles outside Bali performing this rare type of gamelan.

Puja Semara Kanti (which can be translated as 'Lovers of Beauty') was forged in 1978 by Pande Wayan Sukarta in Belahbatuh and tuned by Pande Nyoman Sudarna (a specialist in Wayang Gender at the Music Conservatory in Bali) for I Gusti Sumarsa. It was brought to the UK in October 2003 by Ni Made Pujawati and Mark Hobart and currently resides at SOAS.

The Composers

I Nengah Susila

I Nengah Susila grew up in a family of musicians in Batubulan, Gianyar, Bali, and was immersed in music from a very early age, studying and teaching long before he began his formal music education.

His first degree was in education before he went to STSI (The Indonesian Academy of Performing Arts) Denpasar. For the last three years, through the AHRC Research Centre for Cross-Cultural Music and Dance Performance, he has been the visiting musical director of Lila Cita in London, and has worked both with them and the LSO St. Luke's Community Gamelan Group, composing new pieces.

I Wayan Dibia

I Wayan Dibia is a distinguished dancer, musician and, more especially, a choreographer. Born in Singapadu in 1948, he recieved a PhD from the UNiversity of California in 1992 and a professorship in choreography from STSI Denpasar in 1999. He is also exceptionally well known for his work in the vocal genre of kecak, experimenting with the style to produce such works as: Kecak BaliSugriwa (1976) and Kecak DewaRuci (1982). He has also collaberated with Keith Terry to produce the famous Body Tjak (1990).

He performs regularly both as a dancer and a musician, and has performed extensively throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States. As an academic, he is the author on many articles in books on Balinese music and dance.

At present, he is currently a visiting fellow at the College of the Holy Cross in New England.

I Nyoman Windha

I Nyoman Windha is one of Bali's foremost composer-performers. Born in Singapadu in 1956, he studied at STSI Denpasur, where he has been teaching gamelan since 1982.

He has composed over 70 new works for gamelan in many genres, especially gong kebyar, including accompaniment for new dances and dramas, many of which have been incorporated into the standard repertoire of groups throughout Bali.

His music is particularly well known for its inclusion of forms from Javanese gamelan, as well as for the use of Western influences, such as 3/4 time.

I Wayan Beratha

I Wayan Beratha is widely regarded as one of Bali's most important and influential composers, a pioneer of the modern kebyar style.

Born in 1926, he is also a master gamelan maker and tuner, as well as a master musician, and is the creator of gamelan semara dana in 1987, as well as its precursor, gamelan genta pinara pitu, in 1985. He has also been a driving force in the establishment of many of Bali's cultural institutions, including the Balinese arts conservatories and the Bali Arts Festival.

Andy Channing

Andy Channing, founder and artistic director of Lila Cita, studied gamelan at the South Bank Centre and at STSI Surakarta, Central Java, and with various teachers in Bali.

Since 1991 he has taught and performed Balinese and Javanese gamelan throughout the UJK and abroad, including the South Bank Centre, City University and at LSO  St. Luke's.

The Players

I Nengah Susila - Guest Musical Director

Andy Channing - Artistic Director

Kaori Allenson, Kerenza Allin-Garner, Gill Bland, Jiggs Coldiron, Sophie VCovey-Crump, Emily Garner, Mel Green, Valerie Gunn, Robert Hills, Manuel Jiminez, kKate Marrs, Xerxes Mazda, Dave McKennie, jane Morley, Nye Parry, Dave Peachey, Lis Powers, Matt Rice.