This music indigenous to the islands of Bali and Java in the Indonesian archipelago
Dates back to before the 12th century.
The word gamelan is a generic word for an instrumental ensemble ranging in size from a few small instruments to an impressive set of over fifty.
There is a great variety of instrumental ensembles which perform vibrant and electrifying music with a great degree of precision artistry technicality and skill.
3 Instrumental Functions
A. Bossed (knobbed) gongs (punctuaters)
B. Bronze kettles (melody and texture)
C. Bronze metalophones (melody and textural)
D. Bamboo xylophones called (Gambang)
4 Functions (cont.)
E. Drums (provide rhythmic support)
F. Cymbals (provide rhythmic support)
G. The Rebab (two string fiddle) and Suling (Bamboo flute) (melody)
5 Gamelan Instruments
A. Gangsa - xylophone-like instrument that has bronze bars bamboo resonators is struck with a hammer in one hand while the other follows behind to dampen the tones.
B. Kendang - Two cylindrical drums. One drum is considered male and the other female - together they play a series of interlocking rhythms which lead the group and cue changes in the musical texture and dynamic.
C. Trompong - Another drum - this one a deep bass sound which supports the Kendang and outlines the time cycle.
6 Instruments (cont.)
D. Kempli Gong - small gong that can be
at time much like a metronome.
E. Cengceng - small cymbals used in faster more exciting sections of Gamelan music.
F. Suling - bamboo flute used to play melodies
G. Rebab - two string fiddle that provides supporting role to the melody
7 Religious Background
Bronze and Iron are used in the making of the metal bars for the keyboard instruments and the gongs by specialized artisans or metal smiths - this is considered a very sacred and secretive occupation.
The sacred nature of this occupation is due to a religious belief called animism which shares a unique relationship with the Hinduism that is practice by 90 of the Balinese population.
Animism is the belief that all things either animal or mineral possess an inherent spirit. This spirit is thus transformed from its animal or mineral state into that of a musical instrument and is still alive in a sense. Therefore the gamelan instruments themselves are thought to be sacred possessing a soul and must be regarded with great respect. Such things as stepping over an instrument in the gamelan ensemble shows disrespect to this spirit and is bad luck.
8 Musical Characteristics
The instruments used in gamelan are tuned to one of two scale systems
1. Pelog - a five note (pentatonic) scale made up of nearly equidistant intervals.
2. Slendro - a seven note scale made up of large and small intervals.
the slendro and pelog instruments never play together rather a complete orchestra of instruments in each tuning system must exist to play music.
9 Characteristics (cont.)
Paired Tuning - The instruments in the ensemble utilize paired tuning meaning that two of the same instruments in the ensemble are tune slightly apart to create a pulsating vibrato or shimmering sound of slight dissonance. This is what gives the gamelan its characteristic haunting sound.
Compositional techniques - Gamelan music is cyclic in nature and based largely on repeated patterns of punctuation and time. There is a pervasive use of interlocking between individual parts to produce rapid figuration of mind-boggling speed and precision. Most gamelan rely on the interlocking (also known as Hocket) technique called Kotekan to create its ostinato and melodic patterns.
10 Kotekan Types
A. Polos - the pattern that falls more on the beat than off - it is more stable (less syncopated) and is characteristically considered female.
B. Nangsih ( pronounced SONGSY) - pattern that falls more off beat - it is unstable (more syncopated) and is considered to be characteristically male.
11 Four Types of Kotekan
1. Chandetan - an alternating rhythm in which the nyangsih differs from the polos
12 Kotekan types (cont.)
2. Tutugan - an alternating rhythm in which the nyangsih melody follows the polos
13 Kotekan Types (cont.)
3. Ochetan - an interlocking rhythm in which two separate voices are created where the parts meet.
14 Kotekan Types (cont.)
4. Semi - Ochetan - an interlocking rhythm in which the parts meet on a unison.
15 Ensemble Types
For most gamelan ensemble types the music is fixed and composed relying very little on improvisation.
Gamelan Selunding- a small ensemble made up of 8 - 10 players-play the older more traditional compositions. Usually this music is slow and soft.
Gamelan Gede - large ensemble that plays also more traditional pieces. The instruments are made of large Iron bars which are quite loud and are played without the dampening technique inherent to Kebyar.
16 Ensemble types (cont.)
Gamelan Gong Kebyar - Most abundant ensemble type on Bali which play very fast exciting contemporary compositions. Kebyar means literally to burst open or to flare up and grew out of the gong gede tradition around 1915 in Northern Bali. Kebyar is more episodic than other types of gamelan displaying sudden shifts in tempo style and volume.
17 Ensemble Types (cont.) Wayan Kulit - Shadow -Puppet drama which developed in Java in which a Dalong or puppeteer controls the movements and voices of up to 50 different puppets and is accompanied by a unique form of gamelan playing which reacts to the Dalongs movements and vocalizations. Gamelan Anklung - gamelan music play ed on small keyboard instruments comprised of only four notes. Music is characteristically light and is an older form of gamelan. 18 Ensemble types (cont.)
Kecek - Often referred to as The Monkey Chant this form of music actually mimics the sound of a lizard found on Bali which makes the cek sound. The performers chanted these lizard sounds in an interlocking fashion which creates an unusual textural sound. Cyclic punctuating gongs are also mimicked with voice. The music in this context serves as the background for the theatrical drama used to depict stories from the Ramayana a Hindu epic.
19 Wayan Kulit 20 Playing the Kantilan 21 The Trompong 22 Dueling Kendang 23 Gamelan Gong Gede 24 Beach Gathering 25 Banjar Childrens Gamelan 26 Banjar Dancing
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