Moh. Sjah & Orkes Kerontjong M. Sagi – Kr. Irama

iramaI thought that, coupled with the previous post of today, I’d post something languid and tranquil, something somewhat relaxed. So, I brought out another classic Indonesian krontjong piece from the mid-20th century, on the local Irama label. “Irama” actually means “rhythm” in English – thus the title of the piece as well as the name of the record label are explained.

I posted a krontjong tune of the same vintage, and on another independent Indonesian label (Dendang), back in May of 2007. This one is similar – it’s the style of krontjong that I quite enjoy, featuring the walking guitar and fiddle player trading runs in between smooth vocals. Krontjong itself is a relatively new type of urban folk music, developing in Indonesian urban areas a little over 100 years ago, with Batavian, Portuguese, Malay, and even African influence. Krontjong had changed dramatically since it was first recorded ca. 1904, and when this record was released (probably the late 1940s or so). The instrumentation was bare bones at first, featuring trios and the like. I’ve heard 1920s krontjong that sounds influenced by Stamboel theater, with a slightly more operatic sound, showing further influences at work. By the 1940s, krontjong was a rage, with whole orchestras and popular singers getting into the act…yet, to me this music is not easily explained. Indonesian-Hawaiian-guitar-and-fiddle-ballads?

As for the singer and band – I’m afraid these are muddy waters. I am mostly sure that “Moh.” stands for Mohammed, and “Kr.” stands for krontjong, but at the risk of being incorrect, I will let the original label stand as the official record.

Moh. Sjah & Orkes Kerontjong M. Sagi – Kr. Irama

Technical Notes
Label: Irama
Issue Number: IRK. 186-145
Matrix Number: imco 233 (on label); JMC 233-1 (on shellac)

15 thoughts on “Moh. Sjah & Orkes Kerontjong M. Sagi – Kr. Irama

  1. Jon – this is one of the most beautiful and fascinating pieces in the history of Excavated Shellac! Talk about so-called world music – what an amazing synthesis of stylistic elements – you could write a book about them. I would go so far as to say that today’s “hybrid” experiments rarely reach the integrated quality of this music. Thanks! And BTW – I think we’ve all got such a collection from you that it’ll take us years to appreciate all these gems in depth.

  2. I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks, which of course you hear in one way or another every time you post something. However, I discovered this blog when it was quite new, and have snagged everything you’ve put up (save an African post, which went down after a week or two. I was in India at the time). I’ve been in love with various folk and other ethnic musics from around the globe since I first heard a collection of music from Burundi as a kid. Bought all the Secret Museum stuff as it came out. Anyhow, that you do this, and for free at that, isn’t taken for granted. You could’ve simply put this out for sale and Lord knows, I’d have bought every collection. So, be tired. Take a break. Move forward and onward. This may be one of the most important sources of knowledge and beauty currently happening in the 21st century. So put a feather in your cap!

  3. brooos – i don’t deserve such high praise, but i’ll take it, and appreciate it very much. and thanks a lot for continuing to check in – the knowledge that someone gets something out of this is one of the few reasons to continue doing it.


  4. I agree with Tony…the reason the fusion of elements works so well here is that it is a distillation of several decades of combining disparate elements, then kicking it back to the vernacular culture for even more refinement. I’ve heard quite a bit of kronyjong and always find this later period to have the coolest sounding stuff (as in your earlier Sanusi posting).

  5. Yeah, it’s true – a scholar would know more about the political situation around this time, but from what I understand, krontjong became kind of a nationalistic music post WWII (around this time) – perhaps not lyrically nationalistic or anything like that, but as an iconic music of Indonesia.

  6. This is only vaguely related to this post in that it has to do with southeast Asia, but i was wondering… Could you point me in the direction of any information on Thai Shadow music? i’m trying to get together some sources for a project and have come up mostly empty handed. I figured there would be no one better to ask than you. my e-mail is Any other readers that know anything, id appreciate your help
    – Will-

  7. Good question. Others here probably can chime in. You might try Stuart over at Radiodiffusion as he’s keyed into a lot of international 60s pop.

    However, since “Shadow Music” is a pretty generic term for guitar-based 60s Thai pop, I would first try the usual sources, Garland, Peter Manual, Rough Guide – and see if they have further bibliographic sources.

    I might also try Craig Lockhart’s “Dance of Life: popular music and politics in Southeast Asia.”

    There also appears to be some worthwhile information on Lukkroong and Luktoong styles in “Trajectories: Inter-Asia Cultural Studies,” also from 1998.

    Further, try the gent over at Monrakplengthai!

  8. Thanks a lot,

    I appreciate the help. I go to a small college in Northern NY state, and there isn’t exactly anybody I can “ask” directly about this stuff. Thanks again Jon for helping to foster and support an on-line community of true believers…or whatever the hell we are.

  9. this is the sweetest sound ever. where can i find more music like this? is there some collection of vintage krontjong around?


  10. I think maybe this will help to explain kerontjong(if you have another time) 😀
    KRONTJONG TOEGOE-Vitor Ganap.pdf

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