Indonesian singer Yuka Kharisma

Indonesian singer Yuka Kharisma

Yuka Kharisma is a popular Indonesian singer-songwriter based in Kuala Lumpur. She rose to prominence after being semi-finalist of the fifth season of Indonesian Idol, and her career reached a new peak when she won the Best New Female Artist Award of the 15th Anugerah Planet Muzik. Her first single was Kita Harus Percaya, which she released in 2013, then she released a few singles that topped the charts such as Dengan Tiada Luka (2014), Hati Berbisik (2015), Ju Bersedia (2015), and Muara Cintaku (2016).

Recently, she had the opportunity to make her dream come true of performing alongside her two idols, Bunga Citra Lestari and Anuar Zain, at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre's Plenary Hall on April 28, 2018.

“This is my dream and thank God, it will come true soon,” she said about the BLC state show. “I have long wanted to share the edge with these two great figures.”

Anuar Zain is a multi-award-winning Malaysian singer, and Yuka Kharisma grew up listening to his music. Anuar Zain's first album was released in 1998, and he didn't a release any more singles for a while, until “Bila Resah.” His most recent album was this year. With so many years in the industry, he is an icon in the Malaysian music scene.

“Not many people might know my songs,” she said, “so the concert will include a song from a popular singer,” she said prior to the two-hour concert. There was aslo a duet with Abang Anuar and BLC.

Although she is still not that popular in the music scene, Anuar Zain knew who she was. “The praise from Anuar was an inspiration to me and motivated me to do better,” she said.

Apart from promoting the concert, Yuka also launched her debut album. “The album was actually recorded several years ago, but I hadn't had the opportunity to finish it until now, which is when it is launched.” The album comprises different types of songs, ranging from slow songs to rancid songs. This mix of music styles is possible thanks to that her label allows her great artistic liberty.

She said that it might take her longer to release songs under this label, it does it make it easier for her to make artistic decisions and do whatever she thinks is best for her career.

She said that she finds the music industry to be more robust now. “Technology helped change the scene in so many ways especially in terms of how we consume entertainment,” she told New Straits Times, “Hard copies have changed to soft copies, offline artistry has translated online and these changes are inescapable”.

She added, “I see it as a positive — for as long as there are policies that protect artistes' rights. Piracy is still an issue, and music is more vulnerable to illegal file sharing and downloading. That said, I do see some brightness in the digital music business, as it has been part of our lifestyle for years now. Artistes and consumers ease into it without major ramifications.”

Despite the dangers that downloading of music and illegal file sharing presents to the artist, there are also positive aspects to technology and she has managed to make the most of it. “We managed to use the innovations that come with technological growth in an empowering manner. For instance, musicians are able to share music more widely and consumers in return have better entertainment choices,” she said.

When asked if she has experienced any downfalls with the rise of technology in music, she said, “One of my unreleased song got leaked and I didn't even realised it until I saw the song in a music list during a karaoke session. That got me puzzled and disappointed. I could not even fathom how it ended up at an entertainment outlet. That is why I stress the importance of a more controlled and structured regulation to protect our work”.

Despite its difficulties and the challenges that technology brings, she said that it didn't stop her from embracing digitalisation. “I had a lot of trust issues as a result of it but there are continuous strategies and sustained solutions to curb piracy presented by the government to take measures that safeguard the interest of people involved in the music industry.”

She added: “The industry's digital landscape here for musicians to thrive is better than in Indonesia. Royalty is better guarded due to stronger governing bodies. The industry here is better controlled.”

Traditional Music of Indonesia

Traditional Music of Indonesia

Located off the coast of mainland Southeast Asian in the Indian and Pacific oceans, Indonesia is home to hundreds of ethnic groups, with their own cultural and artistic history. This cultural diversity has led to multiple expressions of local musical creativity. With hundreds of forms of local music and foreign musical influences, the music scene of Indonesia is a colourful and vibrant collage of beats rhythms.

Music varies from one island to the other other, and researchers have long documented the musics of Java, Sumatra, Bali, Flores and other islands. While music has been developed in every region, they have all been passed through generations and they still exist in the community. Although Native Indonesian tribes have incorporated chants and songs accompanied with music instruments in their rituals, the music has been grown and developed in each region, and it has been slightly modified from generation to generation. Today Indonesian music is popular across the islands and even in neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Although traditional music in each region has its own uniqueness compared to other regions, songs in Indonesia usually comprise strong beat and harmony type musics that have show a strong influence of Indian and Malay classical musical. This trend is mostly visible in the traditional popular music genre of Dangdut.

Indonesian music is also characterised by simple lyrics and melodies, and these lyrics are usually the in the local language, and it is usually played with traditional music instruments that are particularly to an area. As they have traditionally played music to accompany the tribes' rituals, songs usually demonstrate an element of community togetherness.

The musical identity of Indonesia dates back to the Bronze Age. Indonesian tribes use percussion instruments, particularly gendang (drums) and gongs. Other outstanding musical instruments are sasando string instrument of Rote island, angklung of Sundanese people and the intricate and refined gamelan orchestra of Java and Bali. The latter is the most popular form of Indonesian music, which consists of tuned percussion instruments, including metallophones, drums, gongs and spike fiddles along with bamboo flutes.

Remarkable genres of Indonesian music

Although Indonesian music is the result of combining different forms of culture and music styles, original music still survives today and it comprises a range of music genres, most prominently keroncong music, dangdut music and modern Qasidah. Keroncong is a popular folk style which stems from the Portuguese colonial era. After the European conquerors brought their own music instruments, these were combined with Indonesian instruments and the combination resulted in keroncong music.

This genre of music reached its prime in the 1930s when it was used in Indonesia's film industry. It then became a vehicle for people to express their struggle to achieve independence. There is a famous kerongcong song from these times called Bengawan Solo; this famous song tells the story of the river Bengawan Solo, the longest river in Java. This song describes the legendary river in a nostalgic way, and its beautiful lyrics and unique melody made it one of the most popular songs in this genre. It's so popular that it has many versions in different languages.

Written by Gesang Martohartono in 1940, the song is strongly associated with the Japanese occupation and the society of the time. At the time, Gensang was a young and untrained musician who startinted playing “Bengawan Solo” on a bamboo flute at local functions and gatherings in his hometown of Surakarta. It didn't take long for the song to become widely popular locally and soon it achieved national acclaim after it was broadcast to a wider audience by radio stations.

But its popularity wasn't only amongst Indonesians; the Japanese soldiers who occupied Indonesia during the Second World War also liked the song and took it to Japan once the war was over. There the lyrics were translated into Japanese and they gained great popularity after singers such as Toshi Matsudar released recorded versions of it which become topped the charts that year. That is how the song started to spread to the the rest of Asia and then it achieved worldwide popularity.

Ever since, Gensang has become not only a nationally renowned figure, but also venerated by foreigner and to such extent that a group of Japanese war veterans arranged for his statute to be erected in a park in Surakarta.

Ever since the 1970, Dangdut stands out as of the most popular traditional musics in Indonesia. Combining local music traditions with Indian and Malaysian musics, Dangdut music started out as a form of dance music.

As a testament to Indonesia's cultural diversity, modern Qasidah is a popular form of music that comes from Arabic pop combined with lyrics in local dialect recited as poetry. This poetry recital is accompanied by charting and percussion.



Gamelan is a style of music that originates from Java and Bali in Indonesia. While quite traditional in style, it has set its roots deep into contemporary Indonesian music as an influence, and is perhaps the most iconic music from the region. It is an atmospheric and abstract soundscape of metallic noises, percussive elements, complex rhythm and traditional instrumentation.

The music is mostly percussive and percussive-melodic. The most common instruments include metallophones which are placed with mallets, and kendhang which are a set of hand-played drums which provide the pulse. While these two instruments tend to set the foundation for each composition, the music is also often decorated with other melodies and counter melodies from xylophones, bamboo flutes, vocalists (referred to as sindhen) and rebab, which is a bowed instrument derived from Arabia. Traditionally, it isn't a notated form of music as it began as an oral tradition, but nowadays there are precise methods to recording the music on paper, mostly invented to preserve various pieces in the court records as music is generally memorised.

The music is often improvised, and when writing new music, the band leader, also known as the sekaha, who helps the community to invent new gamelan, will encourage the performers to add their own element to the music and leave enough space in new compositions to include improvisations. They believe that music should grow and change, and even in some performances of traditional gamelan pieces, new sections and improvisations are added so that the music is constantly changing. The only time this isn't applicable is when they play their oldest and most sacred pieces, which are memorised and rehearsed frequently and passed down through generations, note for note.

Gamelan music has become less popular over the years as more and more people have started listening to pop music, however it is still frequently played at traditional festivals and ceremonies as well as other formal occasions. It is a very central part of the Indonesian culture, and as the iconic sound of Indonesia, we won't see it disappear anytime soon. Bands such as Krakatau and SambaSunda have created a jazz fusion using the ethnic gamelan music and instrumentation blended with contemporary instrumentation such as drumkits, keyboards and guitars to create a modern Indonesian sound. The band Bossanova Java have also fused a more refined style of gamelan from Java with bossa nova music to create a very unique soundscape that still sounds true to it's geographical origins.

Gamelan also influences music from as far away as Japan and beyond. Quite noticeably, the Japanese synth-pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra featured a heavy use of gamelan elements and samples on their 1981 album titled Technodelic. Gamelan music has also influenced the soundtrack to several anime films including 1988's Akira, composed by the Japanese music group Geinoh Yamashirogumi. Even the some of the soundtracks used for the iconic Sonic games feature gamelan samples and influences.

More traditionally, gamelan is a cultural music performance, and often is accompanied by traditional Indonesian dancing, puppet performances called wayang, and is also often played at traditional rituals and ceremonies. The music not only accompanies these activities, but is a solid and vital element to the entire performance, so much so that everybody needs a thorough understanding of everything happening, for example, the puppeteers in the wayang must understand the music to be bale to give cues for the music, and the dancers who perform alongside the music can usually play instruments in the ensemble as they study the music extensively to fully immerse themselves in the performance.

Almost all religious rituals involve gamelan music, including ceremonies performed by the Catholic Church in Indonesia. There are pieces that are believed to fend off evil and others that are believed to have magical powers. Certain ceremonies have particular gamelan composed specifically for them, such as the Gamelan Sekaten which is used for Mawlid an-Nabi, also known as Muhammad's birthday.

Gamelan has also found a way out of Indonesia and into other cultures where it has grown and developed into something entirely new. Both Malaysia and the United States have developed their own style of the music which, while keeping true to Indonesian gamelan roots, has become something very unique and different.

Glenn Fredly

Glenn Fredly

Glenn Fredly Deviano Latuhamallo, more commonly known as simply Glen Fredly, is an Indonesian singer and songwriter who became famous as a result of winning a singing contest called Cipta Persona Bintang in 1995. He is also an established producer and has served as a voice coach on The Voice Indonesia. As well as singing, he can play guitar, bass guitar and piano and often accompanies his singing on stage using these instruments, although his strong, melodic and clean vocals have always taken the spotlight in his music. He has also dabbled (and rather successfully) in movie production, his movie “Cahaya Dari Timur Beta Maluku” picking up The Best Movie award from Festival Film Indonesia. He is usually seen wearing a hat of sorts.

Following his title in Cipta Persona Bintang, Fredly joined a funk rock band called Funk Section, although his time working with them only lasted until 1998 when he left the group to focus on a solo R&B career. His first solo album, GLENN, was released in 2998 and sold over 50 thousand copies at a time when R&B wasn't so popular in Indonesia.

Fredly has featured in many music competitions around the world following his successful debut which springboard him into the music industry. In 1996, he was a finalist in the Asia Song Festival. In 2001, he came third in the Russian Asia Dauzy International Song Festival. He seems to know where his roots are, and be fully supportive of the music industry scouting for talent through competitive events.

One of his largest influences has been Michael Jackson, and following his tragic death, Fredly performed five tribute concerts around Indonesia, covering Jackson's most popular hits in memory of the deceased singer. Fredly has stated that Jackson is a massive inspiration through him, not just because of his music, but also his dancing, his style, and everything else. Fredly has also been inspired to do voluntary humanitarian work as a result of idolising Jackson, who also completed similar projects. You can hear Jackson's influence in Fredly's music, from funky upbeat high register guitar chords and driving funk baselines, to clean and technical drum patterns that really drive a funk feel to the front of his music which gets people moving and throws the listener back to the 80s. This is particularly evident in Fredly's earlier work, although the influence hasn't been lost over time. Other influences on Fredly's work include Marvin Gaye, Chrisye and Quincy Jones.

Perhaps his most famous song is titled “Akhir Cerita Cinta” which roughly translates into English as “the end of a love story”. This slow and relaxing song is rich in atmospheric harmonies, smooth vocal lines enriched with harmonies, and gentle fingerpicked guitar, creating a very mellow and sombre mood, and has become a huge singalong piece at his live performances. As the name suggests, it is a break up song where Fredly sings about a heartfelt loss and struggling in the aftermath of a relationship, which is well represented in the music video which has gained over 14 million views on Youtube.

Another popular hit of his is “Terserah” which translates in to English as “Whatever”. This is another break up song by Fredly, although the lyrics seem to come later after the relationship's end than in “Akhir Cerita Cinta” as he exclaims that although feeling sad, he is moving on. The song has a similar mood to “Akhir Cerita Cinta” with a ballad like feel, thick orchestral harmonies, slow R&B drums, melodic electric guitar licks and some very strong and powerful vocal work stretching a huge range of notes. The video has acquired over 5.5 million views on youtube and depicts an emotional story of the collateral damage of a bad relationship to a family and the friends surrounding them, as well as featuring him playing his guitar and singing in a sombre setting, looking distant and thoughtful.

With his many talents both relating to music and not, Glenn Freely is a name we can expect to see for many years to come. He has become one of the most popular and famous names in Indonesian music and has inspired a lot of musicians in Indonesia and surrounding countries.