Three Javanese Songs

Audio Samples

Three Javanese Songs: Hampelas
Three Javanese Songs: Kinanti
Three Javanese Songs: Djakoan

Composed by: Charles T. Griffes (1884-1920)
Arranged by: Felix Salazar

Charles T. Griffes was an American pianist and composer trained in the German Romantic style, yet strongly influenced by French Impressionism. In 1917, his gift for song cycles and interest in "oriental" music led to a collaboration with soprano and world-traveler, Eva Gauthier. Written for voice and piano, Three Javanese Songs was adapted from folk melodies that Gauthier collected in Java. Although Griffes arranged the pieces for her, it is unclear whether or not Gauthier ever performed them.

Three Javanese Songs is one of the earliest examples of American compositions inspired by music from the Indonesian archipelago. This arrangement for octet further expands on Griffes' inspiration, employing the rhythmic hockets found in the orchestral music of gamelan.

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The following are sing-able translations by Jonathan Elkus.

Lush vines 'round the teak trees grow,
Lush vines grow 'round the trees in the yard.
I swear my love each living day.
Ever gracious are you to me.

Who walks there alone?
Such beauty, such bearing,
going far, going far,
So early this morning.
The tinkling bells of buffalo,
And sunshine mark that lonely way:
The quest for meaning and for truth.

"Fighting man!" "Fighting man!"
Little boys are circling, circling, little warriors circling, circling,
"Jong jong jay!"
Each watching out to take advantage of his foe,
They want to wound each other; now the gong sounds
"tung dongdeet dongdeet."
Swordsman quickly pokes his sword,
Now his foe is fallen, foe is fallen,
"Dongdeet, dongdeet chrekk!
Dongdeet, fallen down, chrekk!"