Gamelan-the Facts • Gamelan is a type of Indonesian music that originated on the island of Java. • Javanese Gamelan was taken to Bali in the 15th century.
Gamelan-the Facts • There are two main types of Gamelan, Javanese and Balinese. • Both are of great importance to the Asian musical culture and are used for religious, political and entertainment purposes. • Balinese Gamelan can be identified from Javanese because of its quicker pace and brighter tonality.
Gamelan Instruments • The Gamelan ensemble mainly consists of tuned percussion instruments: • The Xylophones – these are called ‘Gangsa’ ‘Ugal’, ‘Calung’, ‘Jegogan’ which are made of bronze or bamboo. These instruments sometimes provide the melody and improvised flourishes. Gangsa
Gamelan Instruments • A drum called the Kendang and a set of small cymbals called Cengceng contribute to the rhythmic background of the music. Kendang • There is also a two string fiddle called the ‘Rebab’ and a bamboo flute called a ‘Suling’ which is mainly used in theatrical performances. Cengceng
Gamelan instruments • The Gongs – there are several types. The ‘Kemong’, ‘Kempur’ and ‘Gong’ are suspended from a frame. They are used to mark time in the music and to mark the beginning and end of sections. Kemong, Kempur, Gong Ketuk • The ‘Trompong’ and ‘Reyong’ are set in a long wooden stand. The Trompong contains 10 kettles and is a solo instrument The Reyong has 12 kettles and has 4 players. Like the xylophones these provide improvised flourishes. Reyong
Listening In this example the gongs that define the sections can be heard clearly In this example it is possible to hear the decoration
Structure • Gamelan music is like a tree • Trunk=Bass line • Branches=melody • Leaves=ornamentation
Trunk • Melody is played by the lower instruments • Is slower as a bass line
Branches • Melody is known as a ‘nuclear melody’ • Learnt aurally by Gamelan musicians. • Used by the rest of the group in the different layers.
Gongs • Each section of music is marked by different types of gongs. • There are four gongs. • The smallest marks the shortest passing of time. • The two middle gongs mark every four beats. • The largest gong marks the end of a musical phrase or section.
Structure Summary • When thinking about structure in Gamelan music, there are two important ideas: • The ‘nuclear melody’ is used in the structuring of the different layers. • The gongs are used to provide structure of the musical phrases.
Composition Task Compose a piece of gamelan music using the trunk - branch - leaves structure
What you should know Students should examine Indonesian gamelan music. They should understand that the gamelan is regarded as one large instrument with many players performing on a variety of gongs, metallophones and drums. They should explore and experiment with the musical characteristics such as the heterophonic layering of sounds and the two scales, slendro (5 note) and pelog (7 note). They should be aware that gamelans have spiritual significance for Indonesians and that performances form an important part of community life. Gamelan forms the basis of shadow puppet plays, poetry, dance, drama, traditional rituals and ceremonies. Students should be aware that the oral tradition was traditionally used to train musicians and that, although there is a numerical system of notation it is only used as a memory aid and not in performance (Taken from the edexel sylabus) Informative web site about Gamelan