Baris Melampahan

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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