Gamelan () is the traditional ensemble music of the Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese peoples of Indonesia, made up predominantly of percussive instruments. The most common instruments used are metallophones played by mallets and a set of hand-played drums called kendhang which register the beat. The kemanak (a banana shaped idiophone) and gangsa (another metallophone) are commonly used gamelan instruments in Java. Other instruments include xylophones, bamboo flutes, a bowed instrument called a rebab, siter, and even vocalists named sindhen (Female) or Gerong (Male).
Although the popularity of gamelan has declined since the introduction of pop music, gamelan is still commonly played in many traditional ceremonies and other modern activities in Indonesia, both at formal and informal events. Gamelan is used to accompany religious rituals, ceremonies, dance, dance-drama, traditional theater, wayang puppets theatre, singing, concerts, festivals, exhibitions, and many more. For most Indonesians, gamelan is an integral part of Indonesian culture.
The word gamelan comes from the Javanese word gamel , which refer to playing of percussion instruments or the act of striking with a mallet. The gamelan in the Sundanese is Degung, the word Degung apparently is an old Sundanese term, which refers to gongs and Gong ensembles. For this reason, the words degung and gong are essentially synonyms for the word gamelan. At the same time, the expression Gamelan degung may be a way to point at a gamelan ensemble tuned to degung scale. The term karawitan refers to classical gamelan music and performance practice, and comes from the word rawit , meaning ‘intricate’ or ‘finely worked’. The word derives from the Javanese word of Sanskrit origin, rawit, which refers to the sense of smoothness and elegance idealized in Javanese music. Another word from this root, pangrawit, means a person with such sense, and is used as an honorific when discussing esteemed gamelan musicians. The high Javanese word for gamelan is gangsa, formed either from the words tembaga and rejasa referring to the materials used in bronze gamelan construction (copper and tin), or tiga and sedasa referring to their proportions (three and ten).
A gamelan is a multi-timbre ensemble consisting of metallophones, xylophones, flutes, gongs, voices, as well as bowed and plucked strings. The hand-played drum called kendhang controls the tempo and rhythm of pieces as well as transitions from one section to another, while one instrument gives melodic cues to indicate treatment or sections of a piece.
In 2014, Gamelan traditions are recognized as National Intangible Cultural Heritage of Indonesia by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture.
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