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Gamelan, The Javanese Music Instruments

gamelan music

One of art of music originated from Java Indonesia culture is gamelan. Gamelan instruments is a music ensemble (a group of people which plays music instrument or sings) which emphasize on kendang (drum with skin membrane), gong (a large metal disk that makes a resounding sound when struck), metalofon, and gambang (one of javanese gamelan instruments made from 18 slice of woods, played by hit the slices with certain stick).

Based on java mythology, there was a god conquered the whole java island and his palace is in lawu mountain in central java. To call the gods, he invented gong, and finally it form a set of a complete one.

At the beginning, Indonesian gamelan instruments are made based on relief on Borobudur temple in the 8th century. In the relief, there are some musical instrument consist of kendang, suling (flute made from bamboo), kecapi, and bell. Since, the said music instruments became the music instruments in Javanese gamelan music.

The javanese gamelan term refers to equipment or intruments and it’s a one unity which played together. Gamelan comes from Javanese words, gamel, means to hit/to play. This verb is added with suffix –an and changed into noun, gamelan. Gamelan mainly made from wood and gangsa (a kind of metal mixed with copper or tin). A set of gamelan usually consist of kendang, bonang, gender, gambang, suling, siter, clempung, slenthem, demung, saron, kenong, kethuk, japan, kempyang, kempul, peking and gong.

javanese gamelan instrumentsIn Indonesia gamelan orchestra can be found in java island, Madura, bali and Lombok island, with various size and ensemble. The term gong is synonymous with gamelan word for Bali and Lombok Island.

Gamelan in java not only played to escort art of voice (singing), dancing, or in puppet performance (wayang) only, but it also played in formal royal ceremony in javanese culture. Especially if there is royal family member who hold a Javanese traditional wedding. Javanese will play gamelan when the wedding occurs.

Gamelan music in java area itself is called karawitan. Karawitan is a term to title a soft gamelan music song. Karawitan arts which uses gamelan in the art of dancing and singing such as singing art consist of sinden, gerong, sendon and celuk. Art of puppetries (wayang) consists of leather puppet (wayang kulit), klithik puppets (wayang klithik), beber puppets (wayang beber) and so on. And the last one is dancing, such as srimpi dance, bedaya, golek, wireng and pethilan dance.

The way to adjust tones and the producing of gamelan can be concluded to be complex. There are four ways of adjusting tones, first is slendro. Slendro is one between two scaled of tones. This scale is more understandable than in pelog.

Sjavanese gamelanecondly is pelog. Pelog is one of two scales, uses in original Bali and Javanese gamelan. Musical chord of pelog can be made by combining the 4th perfect interval with other wider intervals. Musical chord of pelog consists of seven different tones. The all seven are, ‘barang, dada, nem, gulu, lima, nem and pelog’.

The third is degung, and the fourth is madenda. It is the same with original minor music scale.

Though gamelan music widely developed in Java Island, but in some area Indonesian gamelan instruments also exists. In Banjar, Kalimantan island, there are two types of gamelan, Banjar gamelan palace version, and common people version. Bali also has gamelan, which the metal used are thicker metal so the sound produced is more shrill. Bali gamelan characteristic is kind of cymbal called ceng-ceng. This ceng-ceng that creats shrill and fast voice.

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