I thought I’d update mid-week with a pretty solid example of mid-20th century Indonesian krontjong.
Krontjong (in relatively equal amounts spelled kronjong, kroncong, keroncong, and kerontjong)
is slightly over a century old, and is an urban folk music.
Ethnomusicologists would call it a syncretic music, as it developed
from a variety of cultural influences, such as Portuguese,
Batavian, African, and Malay - all of which were present in one form or
another in turn of the century Indonesia.
Known for its languid rhythm, Hawaiian “walking guitar,” and
partially improvised violin runs, the style was first recorded in 1904,
but musically hit its stride and popularity in the 1930s. By the 1940s,
independent Indonesian labels began to appear such as Dendang (pictured
here), Irama, and Serimpi, and hundreds if not thousands more krontjong
records were released, joining the large amount already available from
HMV, Odeon, and other companies.
In my personal experience, I’ve found it difficult to track down
much krontjong on 78 outside of Indonesia, nor has much, if any, early
krontjong music been re-released on CD. I’ve always found it unique -
it often sounds like two bands playing completely separate arrangements
of the same song, and somehow landing on their feet.
For more information on the history of krontjong, take a peek at pages 207-210 of Peter Manuel’s essential text, Popular Musics of the Non-Western World, as well as the always entertaining Paul Vernon, and his article Kronjong Silver.
Issue Number: XBK.007
Matrix Number: IMC.302
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