Chapter 7:
Music of Indonesia
1
Terms & Ideas to know
 Gamelan
 Tuning and scales (Pélog and Sléndro)
 Gendhing
 Loud and Soft Playing styles
 Differences between Bali and Java
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Southeast Asia/South Pacific
 Australia (didjeridu)
 Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc.
 Indonesia
Java
Bali
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4
General Information on
Indonesia
 Old cultural traditions, but much cultural diversity
due to migration
 Boundaries formed during centuries of European
colonial domination; many islands
 A national language adopted in early twentieth
century, but more than two hundred separate
languages exist.
 Pan-Indonesian popular culture is developing, but
regional diversity continues.
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Heavy Population Centers
 Jakarta in Java is the Indonesian
capital, about nine million people (New
York City is 7,500,000); extreme wealth
and poverty
 Central Java is one of the most densely
populated regions in the world
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Two Major Ethnic Groups
 Javanese is the largest ethnic group on
the island (about 2/3); common
language and cultural traits
 Sudanese, Language and arts are
distinct from the Javanese
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General Qualities of the
People
 Mostly a farming society, Wet-rice agriculture
 Religious practices: most profess to be
Muslim, but only a small percentage follow
orthodox practice. More adhere to an IslamHinduism-Buddhism blend. Layer of belief in
benevolent and mischievous spirits and in
ancestor veneration
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Kraton in Yogyakarta
 One of Java’s two major royal courts; official home of the
tenth sultan
 A complex of small buildings and open pavilions
 Earthly symbol of the ordered universe; oriented to the
cardinal directions
 Ruler lives at the very center; imbued with divine powers
 Kraton still regarded as a cultural center
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
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Gamelon of the Kraton in
Yogyakarta
 http://web.grinnell.edu/courses/mus/gamelans/open.html
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
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What
Is a
Gamelan?
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 Gamelan refers to set of instruments unified
by their tuning, and by decorative carvings
and paintings
 Primarily consists of several kinds of metal
slab instruments and tuned knobbed gongs
 Also normally have at least one drum and
may have other kinds of instruments; vary in
size; some ancient gamelans have small
number of instrument
 Those in central Java usually large with
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wide range of instruments
Gamelan ‘Ensembles’
 Gamelan ensembles are kept in many
of these court pavilions
 Some old and used for rare ritual
occasions
 Some newer and used more frequently
 Most believed to contain special
powers
 Are shown respect and given offerings
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Court Gamelans Were Often
Quite Formal
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Four Sample
Instruments
Rebab (fiddle)
Saron and
Gender are slab
instruments
(xylophones)
Bonang uses
knobbed gongs
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Gamelan video from Bali
(JVCv9-1 “Sekar jupun”)
 Begins with knobbed gong players
alternating with players of xylophone-type
instrument
 The main body of the piece begins with
double-headed drum
 Large gong marks dividing point; the small
cymbals are almost constant
 Notice suling (flute) and rebab (fiddle)
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Gamelans Serve Various
Purposes Now
 Used in all-night performances of shadow
plays
 Classical Javanese dance rehearsed regularly
and performed for special palace functions
 More activities outside of the court in
contemporary society; sponsored by private
individuals, national radio station, public
schools and colleges
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Some Universities in the U.S.
now have Gamelans
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QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
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Pythagorean vs. Equal Tempered Tuning
Problem: The Pythagorean Comma
There are several ways to explain the
Pythagorean comma. In a nutshell
you cannot tune a circle of Pythagorean 5ths and
end up where you started.
*****
Start from C and tune perfect 5ths all the way
around to B#. You will find that C and B# are not
in tune.
*****
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A Pythagorean perfect 5th is 702 cents.
702+702+702+702+702+702+702+702+702+702
+702+702= 8424 cents
A half step is divided into 100 cents. There are 12
half steps to an octave. Therefore, an octave is
1200 cents.
1200+1200+1200+1200+1200+1200+1200= 8400
cents
8424 - 8400 = 24 cents = Pythagorean Comma
Result: From the 17th century to the present, the
music of the Western Hemisphere has used
Equal Temperament, created by lowering the
perfect 5th from 702 cents to 700 cents.
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See more information at:
http://home.austin.rr.com/jmjensen/TEMPER/Tem
perament.html
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Present-day gamelans tuned
to one of two scale systems
 Sléndro = Five-tone system made up of nearly
equidistant intervals; normally notated 1-2-3-5-6
(no 4)
 Pélog = Seven-tone system made up of large and
small intervals; normally notated 1-2-3-4-5-6-7
 Gamelans may consist entirely of one or the other
or may have a full set of instruments for each
system (double ensemble)
 The scale systems are incompatible and rarely
played simultaneously
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Arrangement of Instruments
 No standard arrangement of the
instruments in the performance space
 Almost without exception, they are
placed at right angles to one another
 Reflects Javanese concern with the
cardinal directions
 Larger instruments generally in the
back, smaller in the front
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Two major groupings of
instruments
 “Loud-playing” are associated with
festivals, processions, and other noisy
outdoor events; strictly instrumental; drums
and louder metal instruments used
 “Soft-playing” are intended for more
intimate gatherings, often indoors; involved
singing; instruments are played softly
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Example of Javanese
Gamelan
 More formal and sedate than Bali
 CD: A Javanese Ghendhing (Gamelan
composition) in performance
CD 2/Track 3: “Bubaran Kembang Pacar”
An example of loud-playing style
Uses the pélog scale system, with large
and small intervals
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Gamelan construction
 Bronze is the preferred metal
 Brass and iron are also used, especially in
rural areas; cheaper
 Bronze gamelan instruments are forged in a
long and difficult process; metal worker held
in high esteem; forging requires great skill
 Forging also imbued with mystical
significance
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Construction (cont.)
 Process is believed to make one especially
vulnerable to dangerous forces in the spirit world;
smiths make ritual preparation
 Largest gongs require a full month of labor; a
truckload of coal
 A month of meditation, prayer, fasting, and
preparation by the smith
 Careful handling; a false hit can crack the gong
and ruin the work
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Each Gamelan is Generally a
Unique Set
 Would look and sound out of place in
another ensemble
 Attempting to copy the tuning and design of
palace instruments used to be forbidden
 Reserved for the ruler and his power
 Great care is taken to arrive at a pleasing
tuning; one that is seen to fit the particular
physical condition of the instruments; fits
the taste of the individual owner
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Javanese music is closely interrelated
with other performing arts
 “Concerts” of gamelan music rare; more
often as social event
 Might be played to commemorate birth,
circumcision, wedding; or sponsored by
family as background music for social event;
guests socialize and talk freely
 Most often performed as accompaniment for
dance or theater
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Gamelan and Drama
 The ensemble might accompany a drama based
on Javanese legendary history
 Often used in shadow puppet theater—wayang
kulit; Performances normally last until dawn
 Master puppeteer, dhalang, operates all the
puppets; story typically puppeteer’s own rendition
of a well-known story, or episode from the
Ramayana or Mahabharata
 Musicians do not play constantly, but must be
ready to respond to a signal from the puppeteer; a
good musician knows many hundreds of pieces
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The shadow puppet show
(wayang kulit)
 JVCv10-2.
 CD 2:4 – “Playon Lesum” (slendro
pathet nam)
First one begins in soft style; become
loud; ends after repeating the first
gongan, when puppet uses signal
Second loud-playing style; the saron
plays some variation phrases; tailored
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Bali: A Small Island Just East
of Java
 Spectacular beauty; most people involved in
some kind of artistic work (sadly, recent
bombing)
 Blend of Hindu and Buddhist practices; not
as much Islam influence
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Balinese Gamelan
 Music similar to Java, but not the
same; more variety of ensembles;
music more dynamic and exciting
 Instruments tuned slightly off to create
“shimmering” sound
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“Kosalia Arini”
 CD example (2:5) older piece but
notice more asymmetical, less “stiff”
quality than Javanese
 By Wayan Beratha
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Balinese
Gamelan
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
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Indonesian Popular Music
 Many popular styles
 Example: Krakatau
 CD 2:6 Shufflendang-Shufflending
(excerpt)
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Terms & Ideas to know
 Gamelan
 Tuning and scales (Pélog and Sléndro)
 Gendhing
 Loud and Soft Playing styles
 Differences between Bali and Java
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Homework:
due Wednesday, 4/12
Online Quiz
Questions:
1. What is a gendhing, and what are the roles of each
gamelan instrument in a Javanese gendhing?
2. What features of the Balinese gamelan gong kebyar
music (“Kosalia Arini”) compare & contrast with the
two Javanese gamelan examples?
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Lecture 10: Music of India (cont.)