Background Information and Performance Circumstanc
- Gamelan music is deeply embedded in Indonesian culture.
- Evidence that ensembles date back to 8th century BC.
- 'Baris' means a line or military formation - refers to traditional male war dance.
- 'Baris Melampahan' is an exception to the norm of Balinese Baris dances.
- Begins with a series of traditional war dances followed by dramatic play.
- Music is completely sympathetic to the varying moods of the dancers.
- Music designed to be synchronised with every step of the dancers.
- 'Kebyar' translates as bursting open.
- Typical features of Gamelan Gong Kebyar are sudden contrasts and extremely rapid viruosic figurations - different to previous, gentler style of playing.
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Performing Forces and their Handling
- Gamelan derives from Javinese word 'gamels' - to strike.
- No 2 Gamelan ensembles are the same.
- Most include metallophones, gongs and drums.
- Cymbals and bamboo flutes are used here as well.
- Gamelan refers to set of instruments - not players.
- Instruments belong as a group and are not interchangeable.
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The Instruments of the Gamelan
- Kempli - single gong mounted horizontally on a frame struck with mallets wound with string and dampened simultaneously with the left hand. Divides cycle into regular beats and helps co-ordinate the ensemble.
- Kemong - small hanging gong struck with a soft mallet.
- Kempur - medium sized gong struck with a large padded mallet.
- Gong (Ageng) - largest and most important gong in the ensemble struck with a heavily padded mallet.
- Jegogan - pair of large one-octave metallophones played with large, cloth-coated, rubber-padded mallets.
- Calung - similar to the Jegogan but pitched one octave higher.
- Suling - a bamboo flute played using circular breathing.
- Ugal - bronze metallophone played with a small hammer.
- Gangsa - groups of metallophones named according to their pitch: pengumbang lower pitched; pengisep higher pitched.
- Reyong - row of 12 small horizontal gongs. Players split into 2 groups with both players in the same group playing the same part, but doubled an octave apart.
- Kendhang - pair of 2 headed hand drums; higher pitched drum (lanang); lower pitched (wadon). 4 fingers of right hand hit the skin between the rim and centre. Tek lanang variant where left head is muted; Pak (lanang) or ka (wadon): LH palm 'slap' stroke while damepning the RH head.
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The Instruments of the Gamelan cont'd
- Ceng-Ceng - unique to Bali. Horizontally mounted pairs of cymbals with varied diameters and thickness, creating different pitches.
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Tonality and Timbre
- Based on pelog scale.
- In keeping with traditional practise, a pentatonic subset is selected - notes 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6.
- Particular subset - pelog selisir.
- Every gamelan has a unique tuning - has fundamental effect on feeling of tonality on each ensemble.
- Intervals between notes of pelog scale differe from gamelan to gamelan and may seem out of tune to our ears.
- Concept of variance within bounds is called wide tuning.
- Pairs of instruments are tuned slightly differently to create interference beats.
- Gives gamelan music its shimmering timbre.
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- Basic core melody.
- Repeated with some variation and is based on pelog selisir.
- Core melody is called 'pokok'.
- Traditionally, this melody is played by Ugal.
- Melody embellished by addition of other instruments on particular beats of the cycle eg Jegogan and Calung.
- Ugal melody initially has a range of minor 6th.
- H: Use of upper notes 5 and 6 extend overall range to a minor 9th.
- Ugal melody does alter at times.
- A (pg 253): pitches are omitted.
- A+ (pg 527): notes are altered.
- Jegogan is unaltered throughout.
- Calung alters in accordance with with described change of Ugal line at H (pg 527).
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Rhythm and Metre
- Rhythm is fundamental basis of gamelan music.
- Each gamelan takes enormous pride in rhythmic skill and precision.
- Apart from opening and closing movements, there is a strict pulse.
- Based on colotomic structure - hierarchy of rhythms which dictates the functions of the various musical layers.
- End accent is essential for an understanding of the rhythmic structure.
- Makes music anticipory with the stressed beat towards which the m,usic is always heading known as seleh.
- Based on 8-note rhythmic cycle - 8th most important; then 4th; 2nd; 6th.
- Complete rhythmic cycle known as gongan.
- Keteg - 4 beat pattern within the gongan.
- Gong (Agong) defines cycle by playing on every final beat of every Gongan.
- Jegogan also divides the cycle at its midpoint.
- Further subdivision occurs in Calung part.
- Kempli defines each of the 8 notes of the cycle, aligning with notes of the pokok melody on the Ugal.
- Ketokan - technique interlocking rhythms where players playing very different parts synchronise to produce what seems to be a single line.
- Subdivides each Kempli beat into 4 parts.
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Rhythm and Metre cont'd
- Normally Gangsa players would use Kotekan but Sangsih and Polos are playing together and subdividing the Kempli into 2 parts.
- Only Reyong is played in Kotekan style.
- Joined by Kendhang and Ceng-Ceng.
- Each Reyong line is syncopated but overall effect is even and relatively undistrubed.
- Kendhang has varying rhythmic styles throughout.
- B: rhythm is constant and rapid but more fragmentary elsewhere, particularly in K where its role is dominant.
- BS: Kendhang clearly dictates temple to change to other players.
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- Built up of multiple layers of musical activity.
- Texture varies dramatically from section to section.
- Sparsest texture is in introductory bar in Kendhang line.
- Each ansel section uses every instrument available in a suitably dramatic way.
- The higher pitched the instrument, the busier its part is.
- Ostinato is important.
- Variations of pokok from section to section.
- Clear examples of ostinato can be found each time B arrives with multiple repetitions of unaltered versions of the pokok.
- Interacting between Ugal and Calung could constitute heterophony, particularly where the relationship between 2 lines is closest.
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- Not an important feature.
- Any harmony is the product of the core melody and accompanying metallophones.
- Harmony is pentatonic due to being based on pelog selisir pitches.
- Harmony can help define the structure.
- 4th beat of each bar, all tuned metallophones play note 2 of the scale.
- The rest of the cyle generally consists of 2 or more pitches - sometimes 4.
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- After introduction, there is a cyclic structure - numerous repetitions of similar material.
- Variety present within repetitions due to instrumentation, dynamics, melody.
- Demands of Baris dance generate these variations.
- At the end, tempo is reduced (to lead into next section).
- Linear structure also defined by melody.
- Pelog selisir is basic element unifying the whole piece and variants are always present.
- Vertical strcture which is an essential element.
- Each instrument plays a defined role in the structural hierarchy.
- Leadership - signalling tempo changes: Kendhang.
- Melody (Balungan) - defining and reinforcing the pokok: Ugal; Suling; Calung; and Jegogan.
- Punctuation - emphasising the rhythm and metre: Gong; Kempli; Kemong; and Ceng-Ceng.
- Embellishment - creating high melodic decorations: Gangsa and Reyong.
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