Playing gamelan

Instruments of the Sekar Wangi gamelan (Cité de la Musique)A gamelan is a traditional musical ensemble from Indonesia. It is a collective instrument, made up of elements which cannot be played separately; it combines different percussion devices (gongs, metallophones with bronze keys, and drums), to which may be added a bowed string instrument, a xylophone, a zither, a flute and voice.

Pieces from the gamelan repertoire offer melodic compositions which are shared out between the ten to fifteen players, whose parts are closely interlocked. The successful rendering of a piece thus results from a consensus: the perfect coordination of the musicians, each one only playing a tiny part of the melodic line. The repertoire is rich, complex and calls for virtuosity. But, because of this atomisation of the musical parts, gamelan is also a real laboratory of educational experimentation, allowing neophytes to come close to the inner logic of Javanese musical thinking.

Performing gamelan

Javanese dance and gamelan in Chinon 2011 (Photo by Jean-Claude Henrion)I discovered gamelan in the early 1990s. I have since been learning this music with various Javanese masters, amongst which Rahayu Supanggah, Sri Joko Raharjo, Waluyo Tembang, Peni Candrarini, and Nia Dwi Raharjo.

Over the past few years, I have been part of the groups Sekar Wangi  (Cité de la musique, Paris) and Pantcha Indra (Paris). I focused on the female singing part (sindhenan). We played in various concert halls in Paris (Philharmonie 2018, Musée Guimet 2013, Théâtre du Chatelet 2013, Centre Mandapa 2013, Musée du quai Branly 2012, Cité de la musique 2008), Chinon (2011), Pontault- Combault (2010), Pau (2009), Nanterre (théâtre de la Forge 2013, Maison de la musique 2008), Strasbourg (Théâtre jeune public 2008), Cannes (Musée de la Castre 2008), Java (2008, 2007), La Réunion (Théâtre en plein air de Saint Gilles 2006), Nice (Musée des Arts asiatiques 2004), Grenoble (2004), Lyon (Grame 2004), Bourg en Bresse (2004). See also this article about our wayang performance in 2008.

Click here to watch a teaser of our music & dance performance at Musée Guimet (2013).

Click here to watch our performance at Philharmonie de Paris (2018).


Teaching gamelan

Teaching gamelan in Chinon -2011. Photo by Jean-Claude Henrion.Over the past 15 years I have been teaching gamelan at Cité de la musique (Paris), to adults, children and professional musicians. During these classes, the participants discover some basic musical features of Javanese gamelan. Aside from these teachings I was also involved in specific training programs.

From 2006 to 2009, I coordinated a training program for gamelan teachers in Southeastern France. During this period I also provided theory and practice classes, for students at the University of Nice.

Gamelan concert at Museu do Oriente, 2011 (photo by Frederick J. Moehn)In 2011 I taught a gamelan course for undergraduate students at the Faculdade de Ciencias Sociais e Humanas of the Universidade Nova in Lisbon (Portugal). The course included 3 hours of practice and 1 hour of theory per week. 

During the semester, students learned how to play the main instruments of the gamelan, on various forms of the repertoire. During musical practice, we focused on concepts such as cyclicity, scales, collectiveness, interdependence of the melodic lines, and performance speeds/styles (irama). The lectures involved readings, listenings and video projections. They seeked to provide an understanding of gamelan in its social context (religion, cosmogony, social organisation...). We alecardso compared musical traditions in Java, Bali and Sunda. 

At the end of the semester we performed a one hour concert at the Museu de Oriente. The professional group Yogistragong was our guest for this event. Click here to download the flyer of the concert.

Trio Gogonele - Délices des Balkans

Trio Gogonele

affiche gogonele

En roumain, les "gogonele” sont des tomates vertes marinées en saumure. On les affectionne tout particulièrement en Europe centrale et orientale, de la Grèce à la Russie, de la Turquie à la Serbie et... jusqu'en France ! D’où le nom de ce trio énergique et sans conservateurs qui reprend à sa sauce l'étendue richesse musicale des contrées balkaniques.

Car c'est bien une grande excursion sonore que nous proposent les musiciens de Gogonele, et on peut leur faire confiance ! À eux trois, ils parlent et chantent sept langues (macédonien, grec, russe, roumain, romanes, serbe, kurde), qu'ils ont appris dans leur jeunesse ou au cours de leurs nombreux voyages. Une des originalités de ce trio réside dans leur capacité à donner des clés de compréhension des musiques qu'ils interprètent. Parfois sur le ton de l'humour, parfois un peu plus sérieusement (tous trois sont chercheurs/ethnomusicologues), ou tout simplement en traduisant les paroles des chansons, le répertoire est resitué dans son contexte local et servi avec son jus.

Comme dans ces pays où repas et musiques sont généralement associés, il y a des chants pour manger, pour boire, pour casser les assiettes par terre, pour danser sur les tables, pour rire, pour pleurer, et parfois pour tout cela en même temps. L’ambiance est volontiers énergique, ponctuée de quelques moments de profonde nostalgie. Les instruments utilisés sont principalement le bouzouki (luth grec), le kaval (flûte turco-balkanique), les percussions (tambourin ou derbouka) et l'accordéon, de temps à autre utilisé comme un synthétiseur... Le trio Gogonele sonne plutôt acoustique mais se dirige parfois subtilement vers des sonorités plus électriques, juste reflet de la diversité sonore des musiques actuelles des Balkans.

Pimentés et aromatiques, les concerts des Gogonele regorgent de trouvailles musicales hors-calibre. Chacun pourra y puiser de quoi noyer son chagrin, enflammer sa joie, ou tout simplement rêver.

Avec : Estelle Gogonescu (chant, tambourin, derbouka, guitare), Ivan Gogonescu (chant, accordéon électrique), Victor Gogonescu (chant, kaval, bouzouki, guitare)


Antiduşmani - Home made against the evil eye

About antiduşmani

Antidushmani em Lisboa

Duets with Victor A. Stoichiţă (my husband). We play these songs primarily for ourselves and for friends. They are in Greek, Russian, Romanian and occasionally Turkish, Arabic or Kurdish. Some have known composers, others don't. The arrangements are usually our own.

The music presented here is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

2020 tout se tient !

Happy new year 2020 !

Deux mille dix nœuf bœufs à l’œuf!

Happy New Year 2019!

Home-made lyrics set to a Romani tune ("Sandala").

No bœuf was harmed during the shooting.

In 2018, get off on the right foot


Trois petits pas sur le côté,
Trois petits pas de l’autre côté,
J’avance, j’avance et je me réveille,
J’avance toujours du bon pied.

Featuring by Victor, Arthur, Martin and myself. Adapted from a song by Les Ours du Scorff.

Welcome Martin !

Martin joined us on 24th of February 2017! 

Lyrics and tune adapted from a popular Russian song. Estelle (voice), Victor (voice & piano), Arthur (comments), and a couple nice koloboks.

Kiff your 2017!

May your stars shine happy too!

Tune and lyrics adapted from a traditional Greek song. Voice (me), bouzouki (Victor) and special comments (Arthur).

Recorded and mixed in Ardour, subbed in Aegisub, rendered on Openshot and Avidemux.

Bonne à nez 2016

Home made greeting card for 2016 sang by Victor, Arthur and myself. The tune and lyrics are from Cheburashka, the soviet anime movie (original version here).

Technical info:

We recorded Arthur with a Zoom h4 over a few playing sessions. Victor played the accompaniment using our PomPom soundfont. It is made with samples of our voice (in sfz format and loaded into linuxsampler). Sequencing was done in Qtractor. My voice was recorded in Ardour, which was also used for mixing. Then the image was edited in Gimp. Converted to a video with the soundtrack in Openshot. Subtitles were made in Aegisub and burnt into the video with Avidemux. All opensource software. And a lot of fun too :-)

In 2015, be happy!

Voeux2015-rondOur greetings card for 2015. Sang by Victor, Arthur and myself, featuring Pole the Monkey (tchik-tchik), Sophie the Giraffe (pouët-pouët) and Micha the Polar Bear (clong-clong).

The song is a cover of a famous tune by the Russian Band Цветы (Flowers). Цветы was considered "underground" in soviet times. Some of its recordings were even prohibited in the 1980’s. Not that this particular tune has anything subversive about it. It’s more on the boyscout side of the band’s repertoire (a side which most "underground" groups in communist regimes also have — at least the ones which managed to survive).

If you search for the first verse on Youtube you’ll probably find a recent performance of the song by the band, who grew old (and quite bland) in the meantime. But you can also hear other lovely renditions of it, such as this one, by the red army choir.

Мы желаем счастья вам - We wish you happiness

Счастья в этом мире большом - A lot of happiness in this big world

Как солнце по утрам - Like the morning sun

Пусть оно заходит в дом - May it enter your house

Мы желаем счастья вам - We wish you happiness

И оно должно быть таким - May it be so

Когда ты счастлив сам - When you are happy

Счастьем поделись с другим - You share it with others

Arthur's dien rojdenia

Kolobok garmoshke Laie 48I gave birth to our son Arthur on 7th of August 2014. It was a rainy day in Nanterre, but for us such a happy one!… We decided to put up a short musical clip to announce the good news to the world.

The song is Crocodile Gena’s birthday song from the soviet anime series Cheburashka. I changed the lyrics slightly to fit our purpose, and sang them to the original tune. Victor sampled our voices singing poms, pams, poums and pims on various notes. Then he assembled these recordings in an sfz soundfont and used the latter in linuxsampler to play the bassline and chords. At the end, Arthur’s voice makes a brief apparition (he had only been using it for five days!). All tracks were recorded and mixed in Ardour 3.

Kondoula lemonia

Reginald Gray-Girl and Lemon Tree 2010Kondoula lemonia is a Greek traditional song from Epirus. The lyrics compare the beloved woman to a lemon tree (lemonia - λεμονιά is feminine in Greek).

Little lemon tree (Μωρη κοντούλα λεμονιά), full of lemons (με τα πολλά λεμόνια), I kissed you and I became ill (σε φίλησα κι αρρώστησσα), but I didn't call the doctor (και το γιατρό δε φώναξα). Lower your branches (Χαμήλωσε τους κλώνους σου), so that I can cut a lemon (να κόψω ένα λεμόνι) and drink its juice (για να το στύψω να το πιω), to cure my illness (να μου διαβούν οι πόνοι).

Glorious Fousta

fousta1We usually play this tune acoustic, with bouzouki, frame drum and voice. It comes from an album recorded in the 80's by Sofia Kollitiri and Makis Xristodolopoulos. Here's an "electric" version inspired by the joyfully citric sounds of electro-saz and similar genres in the Balkans. Electro-saz & co. are performed primarily live, in dancing settings. They support a lot of motivic improvisation, on both the voice and the lute. Here the tracks are recorded and mixed in Ardour DAW.

The rhythm is 3+2+2 in 7/8 meter. Fusta/φούστα means "skirt" in both Greek and Romanian. The lyrics (in Greek) praise the effects of "Your skirt, Heleni", which sets the neighborhood on fire while you wave your body ...

The handsome dark haired guy next door

kenThree songs in one. The lyrics (in Greek) are sung from a woman's perspective. She keeps thinking about a handsome man with dark hair who lives in a house nearby and haunts her dreams at night... The second part of the song says: "Since people say that you're a good guy, please love me!"

The arrangement of this suite/song is inspired by a recording from Sophia Kollitiri. We tried to emphasize its "psychedelic" kind of vibe. Recording was done in Ardour. Bouzouki and voice were recorded with a microphone, the other instruments were played on a keyboard driving Linuxsampler.

La șalul cel negru

SalulCelNegruVoice and guitar. This is quite typical of the repertoire of Gypsy professional musicians in Romania (the lăutari). It was recorded famously by Dona Dumitru Siminică. Our version is (by far) more minimalist, but tries to capture nevertheless a similar ambiance of nostalgia.

The lyrics (in Romanian) portray a male narrator remembering how he used to love a young and beautiful woman, without noticing that she was in love with another... The last line is : "Because in those times / I easily believed in love / And didn't even know / What suffering really meant" (Căci atuncea lesne / În amor credeam / Și nenorocirea / Nici n-o cunoșteam).


Tzivaeri 1Voice and bouzouki. In Greek, tzivaeri is the name of a light wind. The lyrics are about exile, longing and "black destiny".

Paidi mou

PaidiMouVoice, kaval and tambourine. Music and lyrics composed by Sofia Kollitiri.

A mother adresses her child, evoking the sacrifices she went through for him, lamenting that he now left to live far away, and promising that she would always welcome him back, if ever he felt homesick. In brief, deep pathos!

Theater music

Ondine's gamelan

Kagok Semarang is a traditional gamelan tune, performed here by myself in several playback takes. Victor A. Stoichiţă  realized different mixes to accompany Monica Tracke's mise-en-scène of the play Ondine by Jean Giraudoux. The play was staged twice as Monica's final project at the professional theater school Cours Florent in Paris (2011).

Opening. A 20 minutes loop (cut to 2 minutes here) played during public's entrance and first moments of the play.

Between act I and II.  The stage is dark. The knight wakes up between two paths of light and hesitates on which of them to follow.

Final scene. Death comes to get the knight. Ondine forgets everything...