Gamelan Handout

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    Gamelan Resources:

    Books:Gamelan: The Traditional Sounds of Indonesia, Henry Spiller (2004)

    includes CD with samplesPower Plays: Wayang Golek Theater of West Java, Andrew N. Weintraub (2004)

    Sundanese rod puppet theater includes DVDThe Sound of the Ancestral Ship: Highland Music of West Java , Sean Williams (2001)The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 4 (Southeast Asia)

    A Guide to the Gamelan, Neil Sorrell Central Javanese gamelan

    Web sites:Dr. Sean Williams

    American Gamelan Institute www.gamelan.orgGamelan Pacifica www.gamelanpacifica.orgSOU Gamelan (degung) Sekar Jaya (Balinese) Search on gamelan, or

    specific groups like gamelan sekar jayaWikipedia

    About the SOU Gamelan

    In the Spring of 1999, SOU was able to purchase an iron Gamelan Degung from

    Bandung, Indonesia, over the internet with funds donated by faculty member ToddBarton. After a little TLC and four cans of spray paint, our degung was up and gonging.

    The set consists of

    1 Bonang (14 pot gongs, 3 octaves, L shaped rack)1 Panerus (14 keys, 3 octaves, common trough resonator)1 Peking (same as panerus but different range)

    1 Jenglong (5 smaller hanging gongs, low octave)1 Go'ong (largest hanging gong, lowest pitch in set)1 Kempul (smaller hanging gong, not used in classical)1 Kendang & 1 Kulanter (double headed rawhide drums)Miscelaneous Suling (end blown bamboo flutes)

    Also included are exchange keys and pots for Sorog

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    General information about gamelan degung

    NOTE: The following information is taken from the web site of Dr. Sean Williams,ethnomusicologist and professor at Evergreen State

    The Sundanese are Indonesia's second largest ethnic group. They live in the provinceof West Java (also called "Sunda" by many foreigners), encompassing the interior

    highlands, the coastal areas, and Cirebon, a culturally distinct region. When theSundanese refer to their performing arts, they are careful to describe what they callkhas Sunda -- that which is characteristically Sundanese -- a designation that bears asense of regional identity.

    Sundanese Gamelans

    A large proportion of Sundanese music is performed on gamelans, sets of bronze oriron instruments supported by carved wooden racks. A Sundanese gamelan usuallyconsists of a core group of metallophones (saron), horizontal gong-chime sets(bonang), vertically suspended gongs (go'ong), and a set of barrel drums (kendang).Other features, including xylophones, aerophones (flutes or oboes), a bowed lute, andvocalists, are included according to the type of ensemble. Pieces for gamelan arenormally organized in cycles, with the ending of each cycle marked by the low pitch ofthe go'ong. These cycles may be played many times in a single piece. The drummer

    demarcates the cycle by outlining specific patterns; he also acts as the timekeeper,coordinator, and controller of dynamics.

    Gamelans in West Java encompass a variety of types, from the ubiquitous five-tonegamelan salndro to the rare seven-tone gamelan plog, the multi-laras (multiple-tuning) gamelan of Asep Sunandar Sunarya, and the five-tone gamelan degung.Gamelan salndro is used in instrumental performance, and as the accompaniment fora solo female vocalist, a dance, or the Sundanese three-dimensional rod-puppet theater

    (wayang golk). In addition to the standard instrumentarium of metallophones, drums,gong chimes, and gongs, it includes a bowed lute (rebab) and usually a female vocalist.It is versatile and can be played in nearly any context, particularly at important socialevents, like weddings, ritual feasts, and neighborhood celebrations.

    Gamelan degung is the other primary Sundanese gamelan; in addition to the usualinstruments, it also includes a set of six hanging gongs (degung or jenglong), whichgives the ensemble its name. Gamelan degung is frequently used for weddings, and

    shifted during the latter half of the 20th century from an instrumental ensembleperformed primarily by men to one in which the ensemble serves as accompaniment tofemale singers. In addition, the new repertoire of pieces is less challenging to perform.Women now dominate the performance of gamelan degung, with the exception of thekendang (drum) and suling (bamboo flute), which are still always played by men.

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    Indonesia consists of over 17,000 islands, about 6,000 of which are inhabited. There are 300 distinct cultures withinIndonesia, most with their own languages. Indonesia lies south of Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and the Philippines.

    The styles of gamelan most popular in the west are Balinese and Central Javanese. Although gamelan degung (thetype of instruments SOU owns) are from Western Java, degung is a style specific to one region of Western Java, theSunda region.

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    "Gamelan is a spirit, not an object," says noted Indonesian musician Sapto


    "the instruments are just the medium."

    A gamelan is often desicribed as a gong-chime percussion orchestra. These beautifulinstruments have their origins in the islands of Java and Bali. Unlike the western orchestra,which features predominantly winds and strings, the gamelan is dominated by percussion

    instruments, although plucked and bowed stings, flutes, and singing are also important. Theinstruments of a gamelan are usually built as a set. Each set has a characteristic tuningwhich may be unique or may be copied from another gamelan. The bronze instruments areproduced by a complex process of casting and forging.

    When the full gamelan is playing, the many instruments and voices blend to create acomplex texture. The ethnomusicologist Mantle Hood described this texture as stratifiedpolyphony, characterizing it in terms of layers of sound moving semi-independently atdifferent speeds. Others have used the term heterophony, implying that the individual parts

    are simultaneous variants of the same melody.

    The effect of gamelan on modern western music has been important, influencing composersranging from Debussy to Steve Reich. The first gamelan to arrive in the U.S. came toChicago as part of the the Columbia Exposition of 1893. This gamelan is still housed at theField Museum in Chicago. Eventually, through an expanding interest in ethnomusicology,gamelan instruments appeared on University campuses. Through the efforts ofcomposer/instrument builders such as the great American composer Lou Harrison, gamelanbegan to play a significant role in the contemporary music scene with its increasingemphasis on world music influences. Today gamelan instruments are found throughout theworld, with many, many active ensembles in the U.S.

    Gamelan music often includes the following four elements: 1) A cyclical structure. Markedby gongs of various sizes, pitches and timbres, this "colotomic" structure forms a frameworkfor the balungan (literally "skeleton") which is a basic melody played in several octaves onmetallophones that have seven or more keys apiece. 2) Instruments with greater rangesand vocals provide elaboration that is related more or less directly to this balungan,

    converging with it at regular intervals, and is typified by a high degree of patterning. 3)Each of the elaborating parts has a distinct idiom including a stock of patterns (cengkok)and ways of varying these patterns (wiled). 4) Finally, the ensemble is guided by drummingthat regulates tempo and controls beginnings, transitions and endings.

    From Gamelan Pacific web site:

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    JavaneseGamelanCentral avaneseCourtGamelan Of theJavanese tyfes,his s the mostwidelyperformed nd understood y westernmusicians. t istne 'classical", istorically erformedn relationshipo the sultanor susnanwhose raditionatroleshave ncluded rtspatronage.Court musiccan be broken own n to twodistinctstyles;Jogjonese fromJogjakarta) nd Solonese ftomSurakartaSolo]).Theseensembles re quite argeand includeGerong mdlechorus) nd FsinO'en(one o five emale vocalsoloists).TheJavanese ourtsarealso he birthplaceoflhe Wayang shadow uppetplay)which s very mportanto bothJavanese ndBalinese ulture.CireboneseGamelan Cirebons locatedn westJava. The nstrumentssedin thisstyleareverysimilar o thoseof central avabut he music s quitedifferent. :The ensemble ize s muchsmaller han hatof the courtsand he mood s morerelaxed.Often imesTopeng masked ance) s perform"Oitn in" music.SundaneseDqgu.nqAlso ocatednwestJava, hissmallensembles verymuch ikewestern hambermusic. A sweet, rispsound s characteristicf its highly

    melodiousmusic' Usingmanyof thesame nstrumentss thecourts,he suling(bamboolute)usually laysa leadingole.. Tuningsystems. No twoGamelan hareexactly he same uning.This eatureis very mportanto thetradition.Theunique uality f soundproduced y eueryindividualGamelans partof whatgives he musicvitality.The,same iecesptayeOon differentsetscansoundve4z ifferent.Never he less, wodistinct calesareused hroughoutll of Java. Theyare Slendroa pentatonic caleof roughlyequidistantntervals)nd Pelog a seven onescale hat ncludesmalier, emitone-like ntervals nd argermajorsecondand minor hird-likentervalsl-hereare nostandardizedntervalicelationships. onsequently,qual emperebntervalsanonlygiveapproximateitch evelsJ.

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    PerformanceragticeMusics aughtn heoral radition. venwhenmusicnotations used,t doesno morehanshow he Balungannuclear elodyakin oCantus irmusl).Musiciansreexpectedo be skilledlt ptayingu"ry nstrumentntheGamelanecauset is consideredo beone nstrument. venhemostbasicpart sconsideredo bea vitalaspect f the"organism'.Themusic xistsn theinftnitepace f the heavens nd hephysicalerformancef anypieces simplyreflection. hequality f musicplayedsa resultof howwell he'd;p canalignwiththeperfectionf theeternal.fnstrumentsColotomic

    GongAgungand Gong suwukan Largehanginggongsusedto markthe beginning nd endingof the pieceandsmaliernternatphrases.Kempul- Medium izedhanging ongs hatpunctuate eatsbetweenlargegongs.Kgnong Largest f the pot gongs".Alternates ithKempulKethukand Kempyang Timekeepers.Balunganslenthem Lowest f balungannstruments.-ses ndividual

    resonators nd suspended eys.Demung- Lowestof common roughbalungannstruments.Saron Mid range ommonrough.Peking Highrangecommonrough.ElaboratingBonang arung- Two owsof smaflpot gongs. playedwithbothhands.Used o embell ishalungan.Bonangpanerus Sameas barungbutan octavehigher.Genderbarung- Twohanded laying. suspended eyswith ndividualresonators.Playsstylized hengcok memorized elodiclines to Seleh ones goal ones).Genderpanerus Sameas barungbut an octavehigher.Gambang common rough, ooden eyed.playedwithbothhands.Also playsChengcok.Rebab- Twostringed pike iddle. playswithvocalparts.suling Bamboolute.Very reestyle. Bird-likemitations.sfer - stringedzither.Playedwith humbnaits.Alsoplayschengcok.Kendang Setsof drumswhich ead he ensemble.

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    GamelanGonqGede Theequivalento Javanese ourtGametan.Thisstyle s very old andalmostbecameextinctdue o the fact hat manyof thernweremelteddownand refashioned s GamelanGong Kebyar. Historically,he Gedeensembleswere ownedby royaltybut eventuallyheybecamehe collective roperty fvillages. Thesevery large,statelyand extremely oudensembles re cunentlyenjoying resurgence.

    GamelanPeleoongan Smaller han Gede, heseensembleseaturea widevariety f metalophonesut nclude o pot gongsat all. Nowsomewhat are, heseGamelan re sometimes sed o accompanyhe Legong ances.GamelanSemar PegulinoanRoughly ranslateso Gamelan f the ovegodSemar. Oldervarietiesof thisGamelanuse a sevennotepelogbut by far the majorityemploy fivenote modalextractionf the samescale. Often uned o a higherregister,he music s characterizedy a light shimmeringound.GamelanGonoKebvar The namemeans o burst in to flamesand hisstyleis explosivendeed. Characterizedy extremelyoudand astpassages,heseensembles re usually ery argeand requireamazingechnical irtuosity. n this

    style, s in all otherBalinese amelanmusic,melodicinesare madeup of severalinterlockingartsplayed imultaneouslyy two or morepeople.By far the mostpopular alinese tyle n America nd on the island tself.GamelanSelonding Consideredo be the firstGamelan,heseensemblesare as rareas they areancient.Distinctly ifferentromallotherBalinese tyles,hemusic s amazinglyyrical ndbeauteous.Until ecently,heseGamelanhavebeenexclusivelyeserved or sacred eremonies.GamelanAngkluno This ournoteSlendroGamelans usually mallern size.Sometimes sed n processionals,t is also usedas a children's amelan.GenderWayang A metalophoneuartetonlyused or heWayang.Performers f this styleareconsideredo be masters f theGamelandue to theextensive epertoire nd virtuosoechnique equired.Tuningsystems LikeJavaneseGamelan,Balinesenstruments lsousebothPelogandSlendro cales.However,t is rare hatonewould ind all sevennotesused n any BalineseGamelan. nstead,most useonly he ivepitches hatcorrelateto the Selisirmode. FivenoteSlendros reservedor theGenderWayangwhile heAngklung seA fournoteSlendro.

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    PerformanceracticeThe. rimarymethodor eaching usicn Bafi s byoralradition'NotationnBafisatmost'unnearof. A; importanteature f Balineseamelanies nthe act hatmost etsareowned ortectively.byiltages.Theyareaintainedy the Banjar club)whose "*o"it Jreail nhabitantsf the sarneommunity'Practicallyveryonen he villagi Grel: sings, aints, arveswoodandlavs ameran.t sa vitarart f he ;j;il'siiriirar &il;;i tn"r"peopre,sIIT ,"t"r3::quentlY,henterdependent;til ;f c"*"r"n-firri-"soeueropedoaInstruments ManyBalineseGamelancontainpairsof every nstrument.Thesepairsare tunedslilhtlyapart. when tne samenotesaresimuttaneouslypfayed ogether,he.beatingbet*een he two 'out of tune"keysgives he musicahreedimensionalhimmen:nguafitvnai a "ffiil aesthetic esirabifityo thealinese' fndividual escripti6ns f instrumentt"i" too numerouso mentionhere.ecausehereare so manyditferentypesof ensemblesn Bafi,and eachoneontainsts ownspecialized etof instluments, wilrristonlya few of the onesfoundn the GamefanGongGede.

    ColotomyGongs Walon..andLanang signaf argephrases.Kempur smallergongusuallyunedo-rtrio"of thescale.Kempliand ponggani_ TimekeepersNuclearmelodySaron r Gangsa Commonroughmetafophones.Jegogan Lowest ctave f the suspended ey ndividualesonatormetalophones.J_ublagSame_asegogan ut an octavehigher.Penyachahs Sameas Jublag ut an octavJhigher.

    EfaboratingTrompong Rowof potgongs. P "v-rstylizededensionsof the nucfearmelody.eong Row.oIpo gongs. ro to fouriray"r- irprovisea continuous,interrockingiguration asedon the nr.l"",' mefody.Suling Bamboo lute.9-hen.gheng- Hand.hefdymbars.providerhythmic ccentuation.Kendangwadan andLanang Largeorums J"o to fead he ensembre.

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    Central Javanese Gamelan

    Indonesia is a big country, consisting of many cultures with many musical traditions. The biggestculture, with the most highly refined musical tradition, is that of the Javanese. The island of Bali

    also supports a distinct classical tradition. The music of other cultures has also been recorded,but I will not be dealing with that, as it has more the character of folk art.

    Since many readers are apparently less familiar with the Javanese cultural setting (as opposed toIndia, China or Iran), I will discuss this background before proceeding to the list of recordings.

    The language we call Javanese is spoken in the central and eastern parts of the island of Java.The western part is Sundanese (from which there are also a few recordings, not to be discussed).

    Javanese is a very complicated language, consisting of three distinct vocabularies and grammarsto be used with those in superior, equal, or inferior social positions with respect to the speaker.

    The national language of Indonesia is a modern construction, designed for simplicity and easyuse by the wide array of different cultures within its boundaries.

    Prior to the European period, Javanese was the dominant culture of the region, at times holding

    hegemony in parts of the Asian mainland. For instance, in the early-medieval history of what isnow Cambodia, a restoration of the traditional monarchy was heralded by the arrival of a prince

    from Java to take the kingship. During the Mongol era, a large invasion fleet (much larger thanthat sent to Japan) was sent to Java, only to be soundly thrashed at sea, without a landing. This

    will give the reader some idea of the Javanese strength, but it should also be noted that thishegemony was generally not expressed through military means (at least insofar as we understand

    it), but rather as cultural and trading superiority. Of course, this situation was drasticallymodified by the arrival of the Arab traders.

    Indonesia is counted as the most populous Muslim nation in the world, but this is somewhatmisleading. Islam is not a "state religion" as it is in many Islamic countries, and there is quite a

    bit of variety, although the majority of inhabitants do profess Islamic beliefs. Among the largercultures, North Sumatra is the "most" Muslim; in fact, it was home to a major Islamic University

    (known, for instance, in China) during the later medieval era. Java is also Islamic, in the sensethat the people believe in many of the tenets of Islam and identify themselves as Muslims, but

    there are also other simultaneous belief systems. Prior to Islam, Java was alternately Hindu and

    Buddhist (and Bali remains Hindu), and these beliefs continue to be important for Muslimpeople. There is also an older layer of native religious practice which is still alive and well.Javanese religion is termed "syncretistic" (i.e., combining various influences), and it is generally

    only our tendency to give priority to the monotheistic religions which yields the Javanese thedesignation of "Islamic" per se. Of course, the influence of Islam should not be understated


    The above discussion of syncretism should not give the impression that Java is an area ofreligious conflict. The different belief systems have been molded into a coherent whole, and the

    various public rituals (like the calendar with its simultaneous cycles of five and seven days, i.e.these coincide every thirty-five days) are thoroughly ingrained throughout the Javanese

    population (of course, as we know, the "Europeanized elite" frequently have different ideas). TheSanskrit classic epic Mahabharata continues to be a huge cultural influence on Java (it is easily

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    apparent from the simple fact that many personal names are taken from that text, etc.) and theshadow puppet theatre based on episodes from this epic is one of the most distinctive and wide-

    spread Javanese cultural practices. The gamelan is always used to accompany these plays(wayang kulit). The classical dance forms of Indonesia are also attaining some level of

    popularity in the USA (you could have seen them regularly in the Rose Bowl Parade, forinstance), and much of the court music was written to accompany dance. There is also a large

    and impressive body of surviving classical literature on various topics, usually written in verse(including a verse encyclopedia, if you can imagine...).

    The gamelan orchestra, based on metallic percussion with winds and drums, is well-known to

    many readers. In various forms, it is ubiquitous to Southeast Asia. In Java, the full gamelan alsoadds a bowed-string instrument (the rebab, a name illustrative of Islamic influence) and voices.

    The rebab is one of the main melodic instruments of the ensemble (together with the xylophone"gender") and is often played by the senior musician. Voices consist of male and female

    choruses, together with soloists; however, the voices are not usually featured in court gamelan(as opposed to wayang kulit, shadow puppet theatre) and are supposed to be heard discreetly in

    the middle of the orchestral sound. In these abstract pieces, the words are largely secondary tothe music itself.

    There are four royal courts (kratons) in Central Java, two each in Surakarta (Solo) and

    Yogyakarta. Returning briefly to history... when the Dutch took over the Southeast Asian tradeand established themselves in Java (Sunda, actually), their policy was not to destroy the royal

    court, but to isolate it. In other words, they did everything they could to remove any politicalinfluence from the sultans, but allowed the court to remain as a cultural institution (which had

    always been a large part of its role, perhaps analogous to the Chinese Emperor). Much later, thecourt (originally in Solo) divided into four, due to philosophical differences (of aesthetic) in the

    royal house, and with encouragement from the Dutch. The kratons continue to serve as culturaland educational institutions, and house the classical music tradition of Java. Each court has a

    huge roster of musicians and an extensive collection of historical instruments; today many ofthese musicians also have jobs outside their kraton, but this was not true in the past. Despite what

    any of this discussion might imply, the music itself is extremely coherent. It shows no sign ofmixed objectives, but is rather a "pure" style. The repertory is vast.

    There are two scales in Javanese gamelan music, "slendro" (pentatonic) and "pelog" (heptatonic-pentatonic). Tuning is not standard, rather each gamelan set will have a distinctive tuning. A

    complete gamelan consists of a pair of sets, one tuned in each of the scales and intended to beplayed together in many instances. Different gamelan sets have different sonorities, and are used

    for different pieces of music; many are very old, and used for only one specific piece. Musicalforms are defined by the rhythmic cycles. These consist of major cycles subdivided by smaller

    cycles, each marked by the striking of successively smaller gongs. The melodic interplay takesplace within this framework (technically called "colotomic"). There are also distinct melodic

    modes ("patet") within the division of scale, but my knowledge of this is insufficient to attemptany sort of detailed explanation.

    Extracted from a paper by T. M. McComb; 19 May 1999

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    by Hardja Susilo, Associate Professor in Ethnomusicology

    University of Hawai'i at Manoa

    Gamelan is an Indonesian indigenous "orchestra" largely composed of struck metalophones in

    the shape of gongs and slabs. Unlike the Western usage of the term orchestra, however, the wordgamelan refers to the instruments that make up the ensemble. Although similar ensembles may

    be found in other parts of Southeast Asia, gamelan are primarily the musical culture of Java,Madura, Bali, and Lombok.

    Three types of metal (or metallic alloys) are commonly

    used to make gamelan. In order of preference, a gamelanset may be made of bronze, brass, or iron--bronze is the

    most preferred. In addition to the choice of material, anowner's wealth and taste may be factors in determining

    the number of instruments, how big or small each is tobe, the motif of the decorative carvings, and the painting

    of the instruments. Traditional constraints, however,prevent individual preference from becoming bizarre personal expressions.

    Although different gamelan may vary slightly in their tunings, all gamelan must be in one of twobasic intervallic structures--namely, the 5-tone slendro or the 7-tone pelog. Neither of these

    tunings is compatible with the Western music tuning system. For this reason, gamelan maysound "out-of-tune" to those with a deeply rooted sense of Western tuning, causing reactions

    ranging from a pleasant surprise to perhaps complete dislike.

    In Central Java, regardless of the size, a gamelan set would include four groups of instruments:

    (1 ) those which carry the main melody (balungan); (2) the accentuating instruments; (3) theelaborating instruments; and (4) a set of drums, which functions as an audible conductor. Thenumber of actual instruments in each group may vary from one gamelan set to another. Vocal

    parts may be either featured solos or included, like any instrument, merely to enrich the musicaltexture.

    The Musical Process

    Although most of the instruments have one function in the ensemble, a few may be required toperform more than one role in the structure of the music. Thus, for example, the primary function

    of a saron (a set of 6-7 metal slabs mounted over a trough resonator) is to carry the main melody,although on some occasions it might "elaborate" on the basic melody. The kendhang (laced

    drums) may function as a tempo and dynamic leader at one moment and as a dance

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    accompaniment the next. The kenong (horizontallymounted medium-size gongs) and kempul

    (vertically mounted medium-size gongs) mayprovide accentuation for one piece and act as

    movable drones for another.

    Unlike Western composers, Javanese composers oftraditional music do not have the freedom to vary

    their musical functions beyond this traditionalrange. On the other hand, unlike Western

    musicians, Javanese performers have the freedomto "develop" a theme, to edit a piece, to drastically

    vary the tempo and dynamics, to "improve" or improvise on the music as they play it.

    A type of cipher notation has been developed for gamelan instruments, but traditionallymusicians did not rely on it much. Rather, while playing soft sections, they listen to the melody

    leadership of the rebab (two-string spiked fiddle), and when playing loud sections, they rely onthe bonang barung (a set of 10-14 small gongs horizontally mounted on a rack in two rows).

    Instruments such as clempung (zither), suling (flute), gambang (xylophone), and gender (thin

    metal keys mounted over tube resonators) perform what is generally referred to as"improvisation."

    Just as traditional constraints limit the

    shape, size, and tuning of the gamelan,preventing it from becoming an

    individual expression, they also restrictmusicians from improvising wildly and

    composers from expressing personalfeelings at will (with the notable

    exception of several experimentalcompositions in the past few years). The

    same rules apply to other Javaneseperforming arts such as dance and

    theatre. Thus, performing artists do notexpress personal feelings, but, rather,

    perform their personal interpretations ofthe tradition.


    Some remarks should be made regarding the termimprovisation. In the West, the word improvisation is

    synonymous with ad lib, which implies a great deal

    more freedom than is allowed Javanese musicians. Injazz, the improvising musicians are sometimes known"to fake," a term that does not conjure up a particularly

    positive image. There are many Javanese terms thatmay be translated loosely as improvisation: kembangan

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    (literally "flowering"), improvisation that adds beauty; isen-isen ("filling"), improvisation thatpleasantly fills a vacuum; ngambang ("floating"), improvisation produced by musicians who do

    not have a clear knowledge of where the music is going; sambang-rapet ("making a tightconnection"), covering up a fellow performer's mistake in order to save him or her from

    embarrassment; and finally, ngawur ("blunder"), an out-of-style or irrelevant improvisation. Inthe performance of Javanese music, improvisatory parts should be of the kembangan, isen-isen,

    or sambang-rape type. Occasional ngambang is tolerated, but not ngawur.

    Kwabena Nketia, an African ethnomusicologist, once remarkedthat in traditional performing arts, the renewal of past artistic

    experience is expected. The role of an artist is to shed new lightand to intensify the experiences that the audience wishes to

    renew. Insufficient innovation tends to bore the audience; toomuch innovation destroys the pleasant memory of the art work,

    possibly resulting in the audience's displeasure with theinterpretation. A "good" performing artist, then is one who knows

    the borderline between "too much" and "not enough," a fine line that is often very personalindeed. Such is the case with Javanese music.

    Performance Practice

    In an uyon-uyon, a musical presentation with individual or institutionalsponsorship, program notes are not normally provided to the audience.

    Musicians do not come to an uyon-uyon with any specific musicalprogram in mind. They may not even know who the other musicians

    will be. Nevertheless, the tradition provides a general schema for anuyon-uyon. If performing at night, it should begin after the 'Isa Moslem

    night prayer, about 7:30. If it begins with the pelog tuning system, itshould be in the lima mode; if in slendro, it should be nem mode. The

    pieces should be of the "calm genre," reserving the fancy dancedrumming and rowdy vocal parts for later in the evening.

    At about 10:00 p.m. one may proceed to the next modes (nem in pelog or sanga in slendro). At

    this time, to liven up the party, the female vocalist or an invited female dancer may perform adance that is subtly sensual. About 1:00 a.m., "anything goes" as long as it is in certain modes

    (slendro pathet manyura or pelog barang).

    A daytime uyon-uyon may start about 9:00 a.m. and last until 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon, witha slightly different modal scheme. During the presentation, both the audience and the musicians

    are allowed to consume refreshments provided by the sponsor of theuyon-uyon.

    Cross-cultural Aspects

    Certain adjustments obviously have to be made when presenting an uyon-uyon in the United States. Here, concerts begin at a definite, not

    approximate hour. The length of the presentation should normally notexceed two hours. Westerners expect an intermission a little beyond the

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    halfway point. In any case, the performance should not extend much past 10:00 p.m.. Programnotes should be provided for the audience (and submitted two weeks in advance in order to make

    the printer's deadlines!).

    Items in the program should be lively, varied, and filled with contrast: what Javanese feel to be"calm," another culture may perceive as "dull"; what is thought of as "congruous" and "even-

    tempered" may just sound "monotonous" to outsiders; "slow, gradual evolvement of musicalideas" may just be "dragging on and on"; and "solemn appearances" may be mistaken for "not

    enjoying what they are doing."

    One Javanese criterion of a good musical presentation is that it can place the audience into a statebetween awake and asleep, hardly a positive criterion for a Western performance. Therefore,

    certain adjustments must be made in presenting a "concert" of Javanese music outside its culturalcontext. The individual pieces in the program are not necessarily altered beyond what is

    traditionally allowable, but they might not be presented in the normal Javanese order or duringthe same evening.

    The University of Hawaii Gamelan concerts differ from the Javanese uyon-uyon because theperformers here are members of a Javanese music study group - amateurs in the best sense of the

    term. The participants are encouraged to use the Javanese process of learning as much aspossible. They are also encouraged to learn and play

    more than one instrument and to learn therelationships among them. Thus in our "concerts", the

    musicians move from one position to another in orderto put into practice what they have learned. In contrast

    to gamelan in American universities, Javaneseensembles do not just perform once each semester.

    Thus, although a Javanese musician would be able tohandle at least five instruments, he does not change to

    other instruments within a performance unless it isabsolutely necessary. There are always subsequent

    opportunities to play other instruments.

    Because most of the instruments are percussion, one might wonder "just how hard could itpossibly be to learn to hit a gong, for example". To learn to hit a gong only takes about one

    minute! To learn to play the gong--if the student is sensitive and diligent--would require at leastone semester. To be able to play the gong, one must know all the musical forms, to know (at

    least passively) the various drum signals directed to the gong, to know when to delay the strokeand when to be precisely on the beat, to know when to give an extra gong stroke or when to

    delete one, and--in the context of an all-night shadow puppet play--to be able to perform halfasleep. In short, knowing how to properly play the gong requires internalization of basic

    Javanese musicianship. Of course, the other instruments require even more effort and patience tomaster.

    Music is one of the manifestations of a culture, and learning Javanese music is one of the morepleasant ways of entering Javanese culture.

  • 8/14/2019 Gamelan Handout


    Line drawings by Martha Kreig from Traditional Music in Modern Java: Gamelan in a

    Changing Society, by Judith Becker. C. 1980 University of Hawaii Press.

    From Gamelan Pacifica web site:

  • 8/14/2019 Gamelan Handout


    K o D o M A N G W y T E & S f l E F - r l f l e 8 4P a n g k a t : 0 N A N G K u [ 1 2 4 4 4 3 0 ]K a [ s s 4 ]

    K E N D A N G o T D o o T T T G 0 0 N GJ E N G L O N G / P A N E R U S / PK I N G 4

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    4 3 2 1 1 3 3 4 4 s s 1 1 I 3 2 l--(zr)I o 3 2 3 4 3 2 3 4 3 3 4 3 4 5 1

    o o 1 s 4 s 4 3 4 3 1 2 3 4 3 4 l-- (zx)P E K I N G o o o 2 I I o 1 3 3 o 3 4 4 4 5 5 o 5 1 1 o 1 3 3 o 3 2

    I o o o2 11 o1 34 o4 5S oS 45 o5 11 o1 5I oI 2432 14 32 IL o1 33 o3 44 o4 55 o5 11 o1 33 o3 2 l- - (2X)

    I 32 34 32 34 32 34 32 3 o4 32 o2 43 o3 45 o5 Io1 54 o4 54 o4 54 o4 3 o4 32 oI 2I oL 23 o3 4 l - - (2X)

    P A N E R U S

    J E N G L O N GK E N D A N G

    o o 2 r 1 3 3 4 5 5 L 5 5 11 5 1 1

    o o o 1 o 3 o 4 o 5 o 1 o o o 2 f -- r " " tI I + I I ? l \ ' r ' 'o 3 o 3 3 o 3 o 3 3 o 3 o 3 4 4 3 4 5 5? ? ? ? 7 4 1 1o o 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 3 3 1 I 2 3 3 0 l - - r r r , t

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    o o o l o o o 4 0 o o l o o o 2T D T T To o o l o o o 5 o o o l o o o 2T D T I O T T T T D T To o o l o o o 4 0 o o l o o o 2 lr D r r r j _ _ c z x lo o o 3 o o o 3 0 o o 4 0 o o lT T O T T T O T T T T To o o 5 o o o 3 o o o 2 o o o 4 ] __r r * . ,T D T T D T T T G O O N G \ - ] L /

  • 8/14/2019 Gamelan Handout


    t7K U N A N G - K U N A N G F t fz { r r tE OPangkat:

    B O N A N GK u IK a [ 2


    1 5 4 4 L L 3 s z4 L 4 s 1o T Do 2 0 Io ? 0 1T T T GOONG2

    B O N A N G

    P A N E R U S

    P E K T N G

    S U L T N G

    1 2 2t . ? s 4 ' o 4o : 4L o io 44 o 4 +4 o 4o 4

    t 3 2 r S i s i i 3 2 1 5 1 3 2 1 ] - ( z x )t 5 L 2 3 4 s 3 4 5 L 2 3 z 4 3 2 l - e x )I 3 z r 5 + s t + s t s L 3 2 1 5 t 2 1 2 3 2 r l - - ( 2 x )t 5 | 2 3 4 s 4 s l s 4 5 L z 3 2 3 2 3 4 3 2 l - ( 2 r )I o o o 5 o o o 4 o o o 5 o o o 1 ] : _ r e , rI r D P t r r r r D T T T ] . o ^ ,I o o o 3 o o o 4 o o o 3 o o o 2 J-rr ,

    T oT T T T P T D D T GOONG*-^I o o . o 1 5 . 4 5 4 4 . o 4 5 o 1 5 I I 1 - - ( 2 X )t o l 3 . 4 3 4 4 o 4 3 o 2 3 2 2 l - ( z x l

    l oI

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    J E N G L O N GK E N D A N G

  • 8/14/2019 Gamelan Handout


    05r r PANc L o N A Nc Urlw fhtiltu,tn{

    P a n g k a t : B O N A N G K u [ 2 2 3 3 2 2 3 5 o 5 O 1K a [ ? ? ? ? ? ? ? t o t o 1K E N D A N G o T D o o T T T e i 0 O N GJEIIGLONG PANERUS PEKI}IG 5

    B O N A N c K u [ 5 5 5 5 o ] - - r - tK a [ 5 2 I o ] ' - o 's s s s 3 3 3 3 05 2 5 2 3 2 3 0

    t 3 3 3 3 Ai g 2 3 ; i - - ( z x )Y3 3 3 3 5 5 5 s 09 ? 1 ? 5 1 5 0

    P A N E R U S I o 2 3 2 2 3 4 s ] - - ( 2 x )o 2 5 4 3 2 3 2 2 2 5 4 3 2 3

    f ' ^I o 2 3 2 2 s 4 3 1 - - ( 2 x )o 2 5 4 2 3 2 Z 2 3 4 5 4 5

    P E K I N G I o 2 L s L 2 2 3 2 3 4 5 4 5 l - - Q x )2s 43 25 43 2s 43 23 2 32 13 25 12 32 s4 32 3

    t o 2L sL 22 32 s4 32 3 l--(2x)2s 43 2s 43 2s 43 23 2 Zi tZ 32 34 52 34 54 5

    J E N G T O N G t o o o 2 o o o 5 l - r - ,K E N D A N G I T T T 1 \ ' ^ 'o o o 2 o o o 2 o o o 2 o o o 3T o T T T T P T D T T T G O 0 I { G

    ' t o o o 2 o o o e It r r r J i - - ( z x )o o o 2 o o o 2 o o o 2 o o o 5T o T T T T P T D T T T G O O N G