Street sitar

I was walking to work a few weeks ago when I came across this Javanese woman, dressed all in batik, playing and singing for money. I stopped to record and she told me the instrument was a sitar. It’s smaller than the Indian kind and played in the lap instead of guitar-style. Despite these differences, I suspect it’s a throwback to the old Javanese Hindu kingdoms of the 14th century.

While she was singing, a snack vendor (dumplings, I think) came by and added his own rhythm to the mix.

All I had on me was a 50,000 rupiah note (about $5 US) so I gave it to her. Then she chased me down the street trying to sell me the sitar.

Author: Trish Anderton

I am a nonprofit communicator, Red Sox fan and amateur streetfoodologist. Once upon a time I worked for the Jakarta Globe & Jakarta Post.

7 thoughts on “Street sitar”

  1. I would have called that a kacapi, but that's the Sundanese word for it… I don't know what it is in Javanese…

    The Indonesian wikipedia page on Sitar is unhelpful…

  2. Do you have one, John?

    This much I know, M: it's an old traditional Javanese love song. I need someone who knows Low Javanese to translate it, and so far everyone I've asked speaks High Javanese. I'm sure I'll find someone sufficiently low soon, though, haha …

  3. On the meaning, from 'ora' ('no' in low Javanese, I think high Javanese is 'boten') I can verify that it is indeed low Javanese, but that's all I can make out…

    Do you know Wiwid from frisbee? He could easily translate it for you. I'll introduce you on Facebook.

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