Chapter 7:
Music of Indonesia
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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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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
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Gamelon of the Kraton in
Yogyakarta
 http://web.grinnell.edu/courses/mus/gamelans/open.html
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What is a Gamelan?
 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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Scale Comparison
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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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Examples of Javanese
Gamelan
 More formal and sedate than Bali
 CD: A Javanese Ghendhing (Gamelan
composition) in performance
III:2: “Bubaran Kembang Pacar”
III:4: Ladrang Wilujeng
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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.
 III:5 and 6 – “Playon Lasem” (slendro
pathet nam)
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Bali: A Small Island Just East
of Java
 Spectacular beauty; most people involved in
some kind of artistic work
 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 (beating effect)
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Beating Effect
John Backus, The Acoustical Foundations of Music
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“Kosalia Arini”
 CD example (III:7) older piece but notice
more asymmetical, less “stiff” quality than
Javanese
 By Wayan Beratha
 CD Example III:8 Batak Music from
Sumatra--Bamboo Tube Zithers emulate
gong.
 Beating Effect!
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Balinese
Gamelan
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Indonesian Popular Music
 Many popular styles
 Examples:
 CD III:9 Begadang II
 CD III:10 Shufflendang-Shufflending
 CD III:11 Distorsi
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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
 Beating Effect
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East Meets West--Minimalism
 Steve Reich
 Terry Riley
 Philip Glass
Koyaanisqatsi-Life out of Balance
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Assignment 6
Write an essay of at least one page, double spaced in
which you describe five different aspects of this
course which fulfill the five course goals found in the
syllabus. More than just a list, each paragraph
should develop, in detail, how each element fulfills
each of the five goals.
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Lecture 10: Music of India (cont.)