Bali Musical Instruments
Music plays a vital part in every culture because it is an aspect that reflects history, identity and development. The progression of music can be traced from its growth–the way it is being played, from its purpose and functions–its role in the society, from its influences and expansion–its spread on other countries and how it becomes an influence that marks an identity on its origin, and from its mechanism–the way it adapts to changes. Its discovery has also led to the invention and creation of instruments that can produce the sounds and can express its soul. One of the world’s remarkable traditional music has rooted from an island in Indonesia known as Bali. The music of Bali has been expressed and shared through various and diverse musical instruments namely gamelan angklung, gender wayang, gong kebyar, and jogged bumbung.
The indigenous, ensemble of instruments in the island of Bali is referred as Balinese gamelan. Gamelan means orchestra. This group of instruments encompasses small bronze metallophones tuned to a four or five-note scale, different gongs, flutes, drums, and percussions (“Balinese Gamelan”). Among them is the gamelan angklung.
Figure 1. The Gamelan Angklung
The traditional gamelan angklung, (angklung means bamboo), is characterized by a large number of metallophones in variety of sizes. Each of them has only four keys.
Because of its light-weight, it is often carried and heard in processions (Nguyen). On the contrary, the modern Balinese gamelan angklung is now composed of eight to twelve four-keyed metallophones utilized for melody. The term “angklung” originally pertained to a bamboo rattle which creates sound of a single tone when shaken (Tenzer).
Figure 2. The Gender Wayang
On the contrary, the gender wayang’s magnificent sound is believed to be “closer to the gods.” It is played by a small group of two or four players. The music that it produces has the delicate tonal filigree of chamber of music. Technically, the gender wayang is demanding, blending rhythmically joins and mixes the melodies with the movement resembling contrapuntal. This instrument is said to have a ten-hand forged metal keys that are organized in accordance to the slendro scale – octaves divided into about even intervals – which are suspended with taut leather cords above bamboo resonators. Each of them is tuned to the frequency of the matching key (Szirmai).
Figure 3. The Gong Kebyar
The gong kebyar, in contrast, creates music that is loud and dynamic. The word “kebyar” means fast, sudden and loud. The gong kebyar is used in escorting dance and playing instrumental percussion.
It is usually mixed with gender wayang, gong gede and pelengongan (“Gong Kebyar”). This instrument is a newer ensemble. It originated from Bali in the early 1900s. Since then, it has become known in the whole island (Jones).
Figure 4. The Jogged Bumbung
The jogged bumbung is a member of ensemble that is composed of bamboo resonators lying horizontally and fastened to bamboo frames. The resonators are beaten with special mallets made of bamboo and tire rubber. It is frequently used for informal occasions. It accompanies a dance where women invite men to dance with them by putting a sash around their waist and then pulling them in the dance circle (“Balinese Gamelan”).
In Bali, playing musical instruments is just associated with men because women are reserved for weaving (Covarrubias 161). Because of that, it can be hauled that during those traditional eras, only men are involved in playing the ensemble while women are the ones who perform with the music such as dancing. The aforementioned musical devices are just some of the Balinese musical instruments. They are used for formal and informal ceremonies. The Balinese gamelan is one of the world’s most famous musical ensembles. Each of the instruments is devised by specific purpose and uses.
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Covarrubias, Miguel. Island of Bali. United States: Read Books, 2008.
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Jones, Catherine Schmidt. 2008. “Balinese Gamelan.” Connexions. 10 March 2009
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Nguyen, Phung. n.d. “New Compositions for Gamelan Angklung.” Ibiblio. 10 March 2009 <http://www.asianclassicalmp3.org/angklung.htm>.
Szirmai, Elena. n.d. “Music From the Island of Bali.” Gender Wayang Home. 10 March 2009 < http://www.balimusic.ch/index1win.html>.
Tenzer, Michael. 1998. “Gamelan Angklung.” Balinese Music. 10 March 2009 <http://www.balivision.com/Article_Resources/Angklung.asp>.
List of Figures
“The Gamelan Angklung.” n.d. Gamelan Anak Swarasanti. 10 March 2009 <http://www.google.com.ph/imgres?imgurl=http://www.anakswarasanti.com/images/instruments/gongs.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.anakswarasanti.com/instruments/angklung.php&h=430&w=432&sz=29&tbnid=Xub2mx-s3-NpMM::&tbnh=125&tbnw=126&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dgamelan%2Bangklung%2Bpicture&hl=tl&usg=__y83pTStNN5HWs0VwonPUAYciDYg=&ei=a_e1Sf-uJpz87APMq5mrCQ&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=1&ct=image&cd=1>.
“The Gender Wayang.” 2007. Gamelan Tunas Mekar. 10 March 2009 <http://www.tunasmekar.org/orchestra.html>.
“The Gong Kebyar.” n.d. Gamelan Network. 10 March 2009 <http://www.google.com.ph/imgres?imgurl=http://www.gamelannetwork.co.uk/assets/pics/gong-kebyar.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.gamelannetwork.co.uk/balinese-gamelan.html&h=268&w=412&sz=24&tbnid=boUW8tyuPr-bZM::&tbnh=81&tbnw=125&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dgong%2Bkebyar%2Bpicture&hl=tl&usg=__8Vu4SoxO2bT6OHCdNKRPC2UTJrI=&ei=6Pi1SYqZEdLEkAWh1b3iCQ&sa=X&oi=image_result&resnum=2&ct=image&cd=1>.
“The Jogged Bumbung.” 2009. Flickr.com. 10 March 2009 <http://images.google.com.ph/imgres?imgurl=http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3629/3296011213_02ebee4895.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.flickr.com/photos/baliwwwdotcom/3296011213/&usg=__9YJrPivJ7u4LyUPR4MBzpyGaWps=&h=333&w=500&sz=140&hl=tl&start=2&um=1&tbnid=F5q_p_w6HX5IeM:&tbnh=87&tbnw=130&prev=/images%3Fq%3D%2522joged%2Bbumbung%2522%26hl%3Dtl%26sa%3DG%26um%3D1>.
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