Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Monday, October 29, 2007
In the fishing villages of Terengganu, keroncong is the part of the fishing net where the anchovies are trapped. In other parts of Malaysia, keroncong is the sound the stomach makes when one is very hungry. Keroncong is something we all can agree the Indonesians can claim to be theirs, unlike "Rasa Sayang Eh".

I can still remember my father fiddling the shortwave radio dial trying to get an Indonesian station so he can listen to some keroncong music. If we were lucky, we could catch Gersang's "Bengawan Solo" or "Jambatan Merah" or even "Keroncong Moresko". Many years later, we are still fascinated by keroncong tunes. Listen to the various versions of "Kasih" and I am sure you will agree that the original keroncong version (even not sung by Hetty Kos Endang) is still the best.

Keroncong dates back to the 1600s. Some say it was influenced by the Portuguese music fado much like our joget was influenced by another genre of Portuguese music. Early keroncong orchestras had sitar,rebab, bamboo seruling, gong and the gamelan's gendang, kenong and saron. These later gave way to cuk (3 string ukelele), cak (4 string ukelele), guitar, violin, flute, cello, double bass and sometimes the accordion.

Malaysia used to have many keroncong groups (or sometimes called "party") but not anymore. Apart from a certain radio station in Johore, the only group that I know that is struggling very hard to keep keroncong alive is Orkes Keroncong Seri Lukisan. The members are mostly artists (painters) based in the Jalan Conlay Handicraft Center. They were fortunate to have Dr.Ariff Ahmad (former RTM and later UM staff) as their coach/mentor. Now they are good enough to be invited to play at special functions and at hotels on occasions. Half a year ago the group wrote a paper to the relevant ministry asking for help so that they can go to Indonesia and learn from any surviving "Buaya Keroncong"(Keroncong Master). They in turn will use the knowledge to keep keroncong alive and well in Malaysia.The video I am trying very hard to upload is a sample of the group's presentation. The video does not do justice to my good friend Razak (the singer) or the group. Please forgive the passers by. They apparently have keroncong in their belly and not in their heart or ears. Real keroncong fans would know the title of the song.
*Blogger Video Upload did not work for me. I had the video but no audio so I will try other methods.


I give up. I tried You Tube with the same frustrating result (no audio). The 3GP file has sound though. Sorry folks. Flash and DiVX doesnt mix well I guess.

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