Karawitan, the Javanese traditional music orchestra consisting of
a gamelan and a flute or human voice (see photo above), is also
played in East Java occasionally on traditional events such as ceremonies
for thanksgiving, weddings and the like.
Karawitan is unique in that it uses a five note scale. It is widely
played in Java and Bali with various customisation especially in
language and rhytym and often uses a gong to keep time.
You can listen to this enchanting and beautiful music every night
in the lobby of the Hotel Elmi as the thick smoke from kretek
(clove) cigarettes swirls around the room. An experience you'll
soon not forget.
Art & Culture
Similar to Central Java's culture, Surabaya's is influenced by Madura.
People from these two regions speaks the same language (although
in different accent), and they have no problem communicating each
other using those accents. That said Surabaya people are more direct
than other Javanese in Central Java region, but actually it is just
an expression of their openness to others (doesn't mean other Javanese
are not open).
The whole range of the region's performing arts can be sampled in
Surabaya. Surabaya is also the place to watch Reog,
one of Java's oldest and and most unique performances. Reog is the
local name for the ancient trance dance which occurs in different
forms and under different names from Banten to Bali. The performer
rides a flat hobby horse of woven bamboo and is literally whipped
into a trance state while strange looking characters look on. A
surreal experience to be sure.
The Javanese great epics, Mahabarata and Ramayana, are also performed
occasionally in the Art Centre on Jl. Genteng Kali. Modified from
its original version to meet local taste and philosophy, those epics
are very popular among the local population.
The most distinctive drama-like performance in Surabaya is ludruk
which was originally performed only by men. It is usually performed
as a comedy, heroic story or legend. Nowadays it's played by both
men and women and performed occasionally at Surabaya's Taman
Hiburan Rakyat (Amusement Park) on Jl. Kusuma Bangsa.