Sunday, November 09, 2014


I like a good ronsebons. By which I mean the music of a krontjong orchestra, played with style and spirit. Almost nothing says communal good times than a bit of Indo music, you can just imagine the incense-like fragrance of meat on a grill, hot and tangy dishes in big platters so that everyone can have a bit, plus coconut sweeties and electric-coloured beverages with squiggles.
A big heap of yellow rice: nasi kunyit
Night, but too warm to sleep.
Everyone is about.

Off near the back of the crowd a few elderly men are comfortably hurked down, smoking clove cigarettes. No, there's no alcohol; Indos and Indonesians tend to avoid booze, and the vast majority are perfectly happy with sweetly innocent potations.
The orchestra is more likely to be up on a stage nowadays, and there may be microphones to carry to sound; in the past if you were in the back you couldn't hear them over the people.



The video above was posted on youtube by Guido Quicko, who plays the music of the Betawi Portugese descendants. Keroncong Tugu is the band he's involved with. Keroncong is still incredibly popular, not only in Jakarta, but also among the Indos in the Netherlands, who grew up with it from their parents and grandparents. In the same way that Keroncong derives from Portuguese-style music centuries ago, it gave birth to Indo-Rock, a genre seldom heard outside of the Netherlands. In its European environment, Keroncong and Indo-Rock frequently overlap and influence each other.

Some Keroncong is too sappy for my taste. A lot is strangely beautiful. Indo-Rock shares those characteristics, as well as a lot of the cultural background.

Both were familiar sounds in my childhood environment. Valkenswaard, at one time, was one a centre for this kind of music.
Odd. Most of the natives were quite ignorant of it.
Despite the business links to overseas.
Coffee, tea, tobacco.



Both Keroncong and Indo-Rock come out of the closet during the Pasar Malam in Den Haag. Sometimes they're the preferred music at parties, but that really depends on the people.

Guido Quicko is descended from speakers of Papia, the Portuguese-Malay creole tongue once common in the east; it faded with the rise of Malay as the dominant port-cities language. The last native speaker passed away one generation ago.
Tugu, in the Jakarta area, is where Portuguese cultural elements are still strong. Many keroncong groups are based there or have ties to the neighborhood.

There are also a number of songs in the repertoire that have Ambon and the Maluku Islands as their cultural reference points.
Just one of the effects of history.

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