The acoustic repair of Indonesian Instruments

Visiting Fellow Dr Gea O.F. Parikesit, Gadjah Mada University, Faculty of Engineering

4-22 June 2018

The Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation hosted Dr Gea Parikesit in June 2018 to study moving objects like the Wayang Kulit and musical instruments like the rebab and gourd pipes, to consider how these objects are played and their implications for cultural materials conservation treatment. Together with the Masters students from the Grimwade Centre, we undertook conservation repairs and acoustic measurements before and after treatments to consider how these attributes are incorporated into conservation decision making.

Dr Gea gave a public lecture on 'From 3D Shadows in Wayang Kulit to Vibrato Effects in Bundengan: Traditional Art meets Modern Technologies'

The lecture addressed the idea that humans have used acoustical, optical, mechanical and electrical phenomena to embody art objects and expressions in the form of music, sculptures, paintings, poems and performances. By understanding the physics phenomena, we can gain fresh insights on how to better design, analyse and conserve these objects and expressions.

The first case that was discussed in this lecture is the design and analysis of shadow images in Wayang Kulit. The second case was the improvement of the musical playability (and how it affects the conservation) of the bundengan, an endangered musical instrument. Dr Gea examined how the dynamic movements of both the shadow puppets and the musical instruments strongly determine their artistic quality. These two cases from Indonesia demonstrate how the dynamics of art objects and expressions provide a more complete insight compared to its static counterpart.

Dr Gea was in Australia for the Making Connections Project in February and is committed to the preservation of the musical elements of rare Indonesian instruments. He has been working on the physics of strings and the Bundengan and the dynamic visualisation of Wayang Kulit.

Dr Gea Parikesit, Lia Sumichan, Leon, Rong Wei Sim and Ashley Hayes
Dr Gea Parikesit, Lia Sumichan, Leon, Rong Wei Sim and Ashley Hayes

Background to the project

The Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation has been collaborating with the Music Archive at Monash University (MAMU) and their collection of Asian instruments and performative objects since 1999 with the support of Professor Margaret Kartomi and Dr Bronia Kornhauser. Dr Gea was supported by a Faculty of Arts Indonesia Initiative.