Gamelan
Overview
 
A gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, typically from the islands of Bali
Bali
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east...

 or Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophone
Metallophone
A metallophone is any musical instrument consisting of tuned metal bars which are struck to make sound, usually with a mallet.Metallophones have been used in music for hundreds of years. There are several different types used in Balinese and Javanese gamelan ensembles, including the gendér, gangsa...

s, xylophone
Xylophone
The xylophone is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by mallets...

s, drum
Drum
The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

s and gong
Gong
A gong is an East and South East Asian musical percussion instrument that takes the form of a flat metal disc which is hit with a mallet....

s; bamboo flute
Bamboo flute
Flutes made of bamboo are found in many musical traditions.Some bamboo flutes include:Flute Country of Origin Atenteben Bashi Bansuri Chi Dizi Daegeum...

s, bowed and plucked strings
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

. Vocalists may also be included.

The term refers more to the set of instruments than to the players of those instruments. A gamelan is a set of instruments as a distinct entity, built and tuned to stay together – instruments from different gamelan are generally not interchangeable.

The word gamelan comes from the Javanese word gamels, meaning "to strike or hammer", and the suffix an, which makes the root a collective noun.
The gamelan predates the Hindu-Buddhist culture that dominated Indonesia in its earliest records and instead represents a native art form.
Encyclopedia
A gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

, typically from the islands of Bali
Bali
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east...

 or Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophone
Metallophone
A metallophone is any musical instrument consisting of tuned metal bars which are struck to make sound, usually with a mallet.Metallophones have been used in music for hundreds of years. There are several different types used in Balinese and Javanese gamelan ensembles, including the gendér, gangsa...

s, xylophone
Xylophone
The xylophone is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by mallets...

s, drum
Drum
The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

s and gong
Gong
A gong is an East and South East Asian musical percussion instrument that takes the form of a flat metal disc which is hit with a mallet....

s; bamboo flute
Bamboo flute
Flutes made of bamboo are found in many musical traditions.Some bamboo flutes include:Flute Country of Origin Atenteben Bashi Bansuri Chi Dizi Daegeum...

s, bowed and plucked strings
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

. Vocalists may also be included.

The term refers more to the set of instruments than to the players of those instruments. A gamelan is a set of instruments as a distinct entity, built and tuned to stay together – instruments from different gamelan are generally not interchangeable.

The word gamelan comes from the Javanese word gamels, meaning "to strike or hammer", and the suffix an, which makes the root a collective noun.

History of gamelan music

The gamelan predates the Hindu-Buddhist culture that dominated Indonesia in its earliest records and instead represents a native art form. The instruments developed into their current form during the Majapahit Empire
Majapahit Empire
Majapahit was a vast archipelagic empire based on the island of Java from 1293 to around 1500. Majapahit reached its peak of glory during the era of Hayam Wuruk, whose reign from 1350 to 1389 marked by conquest which extended through Southeast Asia. His achievement is also credited to his prime...

. In contrast to the heavy Indian
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 influence in other art forms, the only obvious Indian influence
Music of India
The music of India includes multiple varieties of folk, popular, pop, classical music and R&B. India's classical music tradition, including Carnatic and Hindustani music, has a history spanning millennia and developed over several eras. It remains fundamental to the lives of Indians today as...

 in gamelan music is in the Javanese style of singing.

In Javanese mythology, the gamelan was created by Sang Hyang Guru in Saka era 167 (c. AD 230), the god who ruled as king of all Java from a palace on the Maendra mountains in Medangkamulan (now Mount Lawu
Mount Lawu
Mount Lawu, or Gunung Lawu, is a massive compound stratovolcano straddling the border between East Java and Central Java, Indonesia. The north side is deeply eroded and the eastern side contains parasitic crater lakes and parasitic cones. A fumarolic area is located on the south flank at 2,550 m...

). He needed a signal to summon the gods and thus invented the gong. For more complex messages, he invented two other Gongs, thus forming the original gamelan set.

The earliest image of a musical ensemble is found on the 8th century Borobudur
Borobudur
Borobudur, or Barabudur, is a 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist monument near Magelang, Central Java, Indonesia. The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues...

 temple, Central Java. Musical instruments such as the bamboo flute, bells, drums in various sizes, lute, and bowed and plucked string instruments were identified in this image. However it lacks metallophones and xylophones. Nevertheless, the image of this musical ensemble is suggested to be the ancient form of the gamelan.

In the palaces of Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

 are the oldest known ensembles, the Munggang
Munggang
Gamelan Munggang are considered among the most ancient gamelans of the kraton of central Java. The ensemble of instruments consists of gong agung, kempul, kendang and horizontal gong chimes tunes to three pitches. There is a repertory of several repetitive pieces, the best known permutation...

 and Kodokngorek gamelans, apparently from the 12th century. These formed the basis of a "loud style". A different, "soft style" developed out of the kemanak
Kemanak
Kemanak is a banana-shaped idiophone used in Javanese gamelan, made of bronze. They are actually metal slit drums. It is stuck with a padded stick and then allowed to resonate. It has a specific pitch, which can be varied by covering the slit, but it is not matched to the other instruments of the...

 tradition and is related to the traditions of singing Javanese poetry
Javanese poetry
Javanese poetry is traditionally recited in song form. The standard forms are divided into three types, sekar ageng, sekar madya, and tembang macapat. All three types follow strict rules of poetic construction...

, in a manner which is often believed to be similar to performance of modern bedhaya
Bedhaya
The bedhaya is a sacred ritualized dance of Java, Indonesia, associated with the royal palaces of Yogyakarta and Surakarta...

 dance. In the 17th century, these loud and soft styles mixed, and to a large extent the variety of modern gamelan styles of Bali, Java, and Sunda resulted from different ways of mixing these elements. Thus, despite the seeming diversity of styles, many of the same theoretical concepts, instruments, and techniques are shared between the styles.

Varieties of gamelan ensembles


Varying forms of gamelan ensembles are distinguished by their collection of instruments and use of voice, tunings, repertoire, style, and cultural context. In general, no two gamelan ensembles are the same, and those that arose in prestigious courts are often considered to have their own style. Certain styles may also be shared by nearby ensembles, leading to a regional style.

The varieties are generally grouped geographically, with the principal division between the styles favored by the Balinese
Balinese people
The Balinese population of 3.0 million live mostly on the island of Bali, making up 89% of the island's population. There are also significant populations on the island of Lombok, and in the eastern-most regions of Java The Balinese population of 3.0 million (1.5% of Indonesia's population) live...

, Javanese, and Sundanese
Sundanese people
The Sundanese are an ethnic group native to the western part of the Indonesian island of Java. They number approximately 31 million, and are the second most populous of all the nation's ethncities. The Sundanese are predominantly Muslim...

 peoples. The Madurese also had their own style of gamelan, although it is no longer in use, and the last orchestra is kept at the Sumenep palace. Sundanese gamelan is often associated with Gamelan Degung
Gamelan degung
Gamelan Degung is a Sundanese musical ensemble that uses a subset of modified gamelan instruments with a particular mode of pelog scale.- Instruments :The instrumentation of gamelan degung is quite flexible. It may include:...

, a Sundanese musical ensemble that utilises a subset of modified gamelan instruments with a particular mode of pelog
Pelog
Pelog is one of the two essential scales of gamelan music native to Bali and Java, in Indonesia. The other scale commonly used is called slendro. Pelog has seven notes, but many gamelan ensembles only have keys for five of the pitches...

 scale. Balinese gamelan is often associated with the virtuosity and rapid changes of tempo and dynamics of Gamelan gong kebyar
Gamelan gong kebyar
Gamelan gong kebyar is a style or genre of Balinese gamelan music. Kebyar means "the process of flowering", and refers to the explosive changes in tempo and dynamics characteristic of the style. It is the most popular form of gamelan in Bali, and its best known musical export...

, its best-known style. Other popular Balinese styles include Gamelan and kecak
Kecak
Kecak is a form of Balinese dance and music drama, originated in the 1930s Bali and is performed primarily by men, although a few women's kecak groups exist as of 2006....

, also known as the "monkey chant." Javanese gamelan was largely dominated by the courts of the 19th century central Javanese rulers, each with its own style, but overall is known for a slower, more meditative style than that of Bali. Although Javanese gamelan can be made from steel, the better instruments are made of cast brass. The two kinds of instruments are tuned in different ways.

Outside of the main core on Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

 and Bali
Bali
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east...

, gamelans have spread through migration and cultural interest, new styles sometimes resulting as well. Malay gamelans are designed in ways that are similar to the Javanese gamelan except they lack most of the elaborating instruments and are tuned in a near-equidistant slendro, often using a western Bb or C as a tuning basis. Javanese emigrants to Suriname play gamelan in a style close to that found in Central Javanese villages. Gamelan is also related to the Filipino
Filipino people
The Filipino people or Filipinos are an Austronesian ethnic group native to the islands of the Philippines. There are about 92 million Filipinos in the Philippines, and about 11 million living outside the Philippines ....

 kulintang
Kulintang
Kulintang is a modern term for an ancient instrumental form of music composed on a row of small, horizontally-laid gongs that function melodically, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums...

 ensemble. There is also a wide variety of gamelan in the West, including both traditional and experimental ensembles.

In oral Javanese culture distinctions are made between complete or incomplete, archaic and modern, and large standard and small village gamelan (On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments, Margaret Kartomi, 1990, U. of Chicago Press, p. 91). The various archaic ensembles are distinguished by their unique combinations of instruments and possession of obsolete instruments such as the bell-tree (byong) in the 3-toned gamelan kodhok ngorek. Regionally variable village gamelan are often distinguished from standard gamelan (which have the rebab as the main melodic instrument) by their inclusion of a double-reed wind (selompret, slompret, or sompret) in addition to variable drum and gong components, with some also including the shaken bamboo angklung or other instruments not usually associated with gamelan.

Cultural context

In Indonesia, gamelan usually accompanies dance wayang
Wayang
Wayang is a Javanese word for theatre . When the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theatre, sometimes the puppet itself is referred to as wayang...

 puppet performances, or rituals or ceremonies. Typically players in the gamelan will be familiar with dance moves and poetry, while dancers are able to play in the ensemble. In wayang
Wayang
Wayang is a Javanese word for theatre . When the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theatre, sometimes the puppet itself is referred to as wayang...

, the dhalang (puppeteer) must have a thorough knowledge of gamelan, as he gives the cues for the music. Gamelan can be performed by itself – in "klenengan" style, or for radio broadcasts – but concerts in the Western style are not traditional.

Gamelan's role in rituals is so important that there is a Javanese saying, "It is not official until the gong is hung". Some performances are associated with royalty, such as visits by the sultan of Yogyakarta. Certain gamelans are associated with specific rituals, such as the Gamelan Sekaten
Gamelan Sekaten
The Gamelan Sekaten is a ceremonial gamelan from central Java, Indonesia, played during the annual Sekaten festival. The word sekaten itself is derived from syahadatain or shahada, the first requirement for converting into Islamic faith...

, which is used in celebration of Mawlid an-Nabi (Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

's birthday). In Bali
Bali
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east...

, almost all religious rituals include gamelan performance. Gamelan is also used in the ceremonies of the Catholic church in Indonesia
Catholicism in Indonesia
Roman Catholicism in Indonesia is one of the six approved religions in the country, the others being Islam, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. According official figures, Catholics make up 3.05 percent of the population in 2000. This would yield the number of the Catholics to...

. Certain pieces are designated for starting and ending performances or ceremonies. When a "leaving" piece (such as "Udan Mas
Udan Mas
Udan Mas is a composition for gamelan which is popular in Central Java, especially Yogyakarta. It is a bubaran, which is an ending piece played while the audience departs. In Western concert performances, it is often played as an encore...

") is begun, the audience will know that the event is nearly finished and will begin to leave. Certain pieces are also believed to possess magic powers, and can be used to ward off evil spirits.
Gamelan is frequently played on the radio. For example, the Pura Pakualaman gamelan performs live on the radio every Minggu Pon (a day in the 35-day cycle of the Javanese calendar
Javanese calendar
The Javanese calendar is the calendar of the Javanese people. It is used concurrently with two other calendars, the Gregorian calendar and the Islamic calendar...

). In major towns, the Radio Republik Indonesia
Radio Republik Indonesia
Radio Republik Indonesia is the state radio network of Indonesia. The organization is a public broadcasting service. It is a national radio station that broadcasts all over Indonesia and abroad to serve all Indonesian citizens throughout the nation and overseas. RRI also provides information about...

 employs professional musicians and actors, and broadcast programs of a wide variety of gamelan music and drama.

In the court tradition of central Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

, gamelan is often played in the pendopo
Pendopo
A Pendopo or Pendapa is a fundamental element of Javanese architecture; a large pavilion-like structure built on columns. Either square or rectangular in plan, it is open on all sides and provides shelter from the sun and rain, but allows breeze and indirect light. The word pendopo is a variant on...

, an open pavilion with a cavernous, double-pitched roof, no side walls, and a hard marble or tile floor. The instruments are placed on a platform to one side, which allows the sound to reverberate in the roof space and enhances the acoustics.

In Bali
Bali
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east...

, the Gamelan instruments are all kept together in the balai banjar, a community meeting hall that has a large open space with a roof over the top of it and several open sides. The instruments are all kept there together because people believe that all the instruments belong to the community as a whole and that no one person has ownership over an instrument. Not only is this where the instruments are stored, but this is also the practice space for the sekaha (Gamelan orchestra). The open walls allow for the music to flow out into the community where the rest of the people can enjoy it.

The sekaha is led by a single instructor whose job it is in the community to lead this group and to come up with new songs. When they are working on a new song, the instructor will lead the group in practice and help the group form the new piece of music as they are practicing. When the instructor creates a new song, he leaves enough open for interpretation that the group can improvise, so the group will write the music as they practice it.

The Balinese Gamelan groups constantly change their music by taking older pieces they know and mixing them together, as well as trying new variations on their music. Their music constantly changes because they believe that music should grow and change; the only exception to this is with their most sacred songs which they do not change. A single new piece of music can take several months before it is completed.

Men and women usually perform in separate groups, with the exception of the pesindhen, the female singer who performs with male groups.

In the West, gamelan is often performed in a concert context, but may also incorporate dance or wayang
Wayang
Wayang is a Javanese word for theatre . When the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theatre, sometimes the puppet itself is referred to as wayang...

.

Tuning

The tuning and construction of a gamelan orchestra is a complex process. Javanese gamelans use two tuning systems
Musical tuning
In music, there are two common meanings for tuning:* Tuning practice, the act of tuning an instrument or voice.* Tuning systems, the various systems of pitches used to tune an instrument, and their theoretical bases.-Tuning practice:...

: sléndro
Slendro
Slendro is a pentatonic scale, one of the two most common scales used in Indonesian gamelan music, the other being pélog.-Tuning:...

and pélog
Pelog
Pelog is one of the two essential scales of gamelan music native to Bali and Java, in Indonesia. The other scale commonly used is called slendro. Pelog has seven notes, but many gamelan ensembles only have keys for five of the pitches...

. There are other tuning systems such as degung (exclusive to Sunda, or West Java), and madenda (also known as diatonis, similar to a European natural minor scale). In central Javanese gamelan, sléndro is a system with five notes to the diapason
Pythagorean interval
In musical tuning theory, a Pythagorean interval is a musical interval with frequency ratio equal to a power of two divided by a power of three, or vice versa...

 (octave
Octave
In music, an octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the "basic miracle of music", the use of which is "common in most musical systems"...

), fairly evenly spaced, while pélog has seven notes to the octave, with uneven intervals, usually played in five note subsets of the seven-tone collection. This results in sound quite different from music played in a western tuning system. Many gamelan orchestras will include instruments in each tuning, but each individual instrument will only be able to play notes in one. The precise tuning used differs from ensemble to ensemble, and give each ensemble its own particular flavour. The intervals between notes in a scale are very close to identical for different instruments within each gamelan, but the intervals vary from one gamelan to the next.

Colin McPhee
Colin McPhee
Colin McPhee was a Canadian composer and musicologist. He is primarily known for being the first Western composer to make an ethnomusicological study of Bali, and for the quality of that work...

 remarked, "Deviations in what is considered the same scale are so large that one might with reason state that there are as many scales as there are gamelans." However, this view is contested by some teachers of gamelan, and there have been efforts to combine multiple ensembles and tuning structures into one gamelan to ease transportation at festival time. One such ensemble is gamelan Manikasanti, which can play the repertoire of many different ensembles.

Balinese gamelan instruments are commonly played in pairs which are tuned slightly apart to produce interference beats
Beat (acoustics)
In acoustics, a beat is an interference between two sounds of slightly different frequencies, perceived as periodic variations in volume whose rate is the difference between the two frequencies....

, ideally at a consistent speed for all pairs of notes in all registers. It is thought that this contributes to the very "busy" and "shimmering" sound of gamelan ensembles. In the religious ceremonies that contain gamelan, these interference beats are meant to give the listener a feeling of a god's presence or a stepping stone to a meditative state.

Notation

Gamelan music is traditionally not notated and began as an oral tradition
Oral tradition
Oral tradition and oral lore is cultural material and traditions transmitted orally from one generation to another. The messages or testimony are verbally transmitted in speech or song and may take the form, for example, of folktales, sayings, ballads, songs, or chants...

. In the 19th century, however, the kratons of Yogyakarta and Surakarta
Surakarta
Surakarta, also called Solo or Sala, is a city in Central Java, Indonesia of more than 520,061 people with a population density of 11,811.5 people/km2. The 44 km2 city adjoins Karanganyar Regency and Boyolali Regency to the north, Karanganyar Regency and Sukoharjo Regency to the east and...

 developed distinct notations for transcribing the repertoire. These were not used to read the music, which was memorized, but to preserve pieces in the court records. The Yogyanese notation is a checkerboard notation, which uses six or seven vertical lines to represent notes of higher pitch in the balungan
Balungan
The balungan is sometimes called the "core melody" of a Javanese gamelan composition. This corresponds to the view that gamelan music is heterophonic: the balungan is then the melody which is being elaborated....

 (core melody), and horizontal lines which represent the series of beats, read downward with time. The fourth vertical line and every fourth horizontal line (completing a gatra
Gatra
A gatra is a unit of melody in Javanese gamelan music, analogous to a measure in Western music. It is often considered the smallest unit of a gamelan composition....

) are darkened for legibility. Symbols on the left indicate the colotomic structure of gongs and so forth, while specific drum features are notated in symbols to the right. The Solonese notation reads horizontally, like Western notation, but does not use barlines. Instead, note values and rests are squiggled between the notes.

Today this notation is relatively rare, and has been replaced by kepatihan notation, which is a cipher system. Kepatihan notation developed around 1900 at the kepatihan
Kepatihan
Kepatihan is a type of cipher musical notation that was devised for notation of the Indonesian gamelan.-History:The system was devised around 1900 at the Kepatihan in Surakarta, and was based upon the Galin-Paris-Chevé system, imported in the nineteenth century by Christian missionaries to allow...

 in Surakarta. The pitches are numbered (see the articles on the scales slendro
Slendro
Slendro is a pentatonic scale, one of the two most common scales used in Indonesian gamelan music, the other being pélog.-Tuning:...

 and pélog
Pelog
Pelog is one of the two essential scales of gamelan music native to Bali and Java, in Indonesia. The other scale commonly used is called slendro. Pelog has seven notes, but many gamelan ensembles only have keys for five of the pitches...

 for an explanation of how), and are read across with dots and lines indicating the register and time values. Like the palace notations, however, they record only the balungan part, and to a large extent what is heard relies on memorized patterns the performers call upon during performance. However, teachers have also devised certain notations, generally using kepatihan principles, for the cengkok
Cengkok
Cengkok are patterns played by the elaborating instruments in the Javanese gamelan. Typically they are melodic patterns that lead to the seleh, following the rules of the pathet of the piece....

 (melodic patterns) of each elaborating instrument. In ethnomusicological studies, transcriptions are often made onto a Western staff, sometimes with unusual clef
Clef
A clef is a musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes. Placed on one of the lines at the beginning of the staff, it indicates the name and pitch of the notes on that line. This line serves as a reference point by which the names of the notes on any other line or space of the staff...

s.

Influence on Western music

The gamelan has been appreciated by several western composers of classical music, most famously Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

 who heard a Javanese gamelan play at the Paris Exposition of 1889
Exposition Universelle (1889)
The Exposition Universelle of 1889 was a World's Fair held in Paris, France from 6 May to 31 October 1889.It was held during the year of the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, an event traditionally considered as the symbol for the beginning of the French Revolution...

 (World's Fair
World's Fair
World's fair, World fair, Universal Exposition, and World Expo are various large public exhibitions held in different parts of the world. The first Expo was held in The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London, United Kingdom, in 1851, under the title "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All...

). (The gamelan Debussy heard was in the slendro scale and was played by Central Javanese musicians.) Despite his enthusiasm, direct citations of gamelan scales, melodies, rhythms, or ensemble textures have not been located in any of Debussy's own compositions. However, the equal-tempered whole tone scale
Whole tone scale
In music, a whole tone scale is a scale in which each note is separated from its neighbors by the interval of a whole step. There are only two complementary whole tone scales, both six-note or hexatonic scales:...

 appears in his music of this time and afterward, and a Javanese gamelan-like heterophonic texture is emulated on occasion, particularly in "Pagodes", from Estampes (solo piano, 1903), in which the great gong
Gong ageng
The gong ageng is . It is the largest of the bronze gongs in the Javanese and Balinese gamelan orchestra...

's cyclic punctuation
Colotomy
Colotomy is a term coined by the ethnomusicologist Jaap Kunst to describe the rhythmic patterns of the gamelan. It refers to the use of specific instruments to mark off nested time intervals, or the process of dividing rhythmic time into such nested cycles...

 is symbolized by a prominent perfect fifth.

The composer Erik Satie
Erik Satie
Éric Alfred Leslie Satie was a French composer and pianist. Satie was a colourful figure in the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde...

, an influential contemporary of Debussy, also heard the Javanese gamelan play at the Paris Exposition of 1889. The repetitively hypnotic effects of the gamelan were incorporated into Satie's exotic Gnossienne
Gnossienne
"Gnossienne" is the name given to several piano pieces by the French composer Erik Satie in the late 19th century.-Characteristics:Satie's coining of the word "gnossienne" was one of the rare occasions when a composer used a new term to indicate a new "type" of composition. Satie had and would use...

 set for piano.

Direct homages to gamelan music are to be found in works for western instruments by John Cage
John Cage
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde...

, particularly his prepared piano
Prepared piano
A prepared piano is a piano that has had its sound altered by placing objects between or on the strings or on the hammers or dampers....

 pieces, Colin McPhee
Colin McPhee
Colin McPhee was a Canadian composer and musicologist. He is primarily known for being the first Western composer to make an ethnomusicological study of Bali, and for the quality of that work...

, Lou Harrison
Lou Harrison
Lou Silver Harrison was an American composer. He was a student of Henry Cowell, Arnold Schoenberg, and K. P. H. Notoprojo Lou Silver Harrison (May 14, 1917 – February 2, 2003) was an American composer. He was a student of Henry Cowell, Arnold Schoenberg, and K. P. H. Notoprojo Lou Silver Harrison...

, Béla Bartók
Béla Bartók
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer and pianist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is regarded, along with Liszt, as Hungary's greatest composer...

, Francis Poulenc
Francis Poulenc
Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc was a French composer and a member of the French group Les six. He composed solo piano music, chamber music, oratorio, choral music, opera, ballet music, and orchestral music...

, Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen was a French composer, organist and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex ; harmonically and melodically it is based on modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations...

, Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez is a French composer of contemporary classical music, a pianist, and a conductor.-Early years:Boulez was born in Montbrison, Loire, France. As a child he began piano lessons and demonstrated aptitude in both music and mathematics...

, Bronislaw Kaper
Bronislaw Kaper
Bronisław Kaper was a Polish film composer who scored films and musical theater in Germany, France, and the USA. The American immigration authorities misspelled his name as Bronislau Kaper...

 and Benjamin Britten
Benjamin Britten
Edward Benjamin Britten, Baron Britten, OM CH was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He showed talent from an early age, and first came to public attention with the a cappella choral work A Boy Was Born in 1934. With the premiere of his opera Peter Grimes in 1945, he leapt to...

. In more recent times, American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 composers such as Henry Brant
Henry Brant
Henry Dreyfuss Brant was a Canadian-born American composer. An expert orchestrator with a flair for experimentation, many of Brant's works featured spatialization techniques.- Biography :...

, Steve Reich
Steve Reich
Stephen Michael "Steve" Reich is an American composer who together with La Monte Young, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass is a pioneering composer of minimal music...

, Philip Glass
Philip Glass
Philip Glass is an American composer. He is considered to be one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the public .His music is often described as minimalist, along with...

, Dennis Murphy
Dennis Murphy (musician)
Dennis Murphy was a composer, musician, instrument maker, artist, and playwright.Dennis Murphy was one of the fathers of American gamelan . Lou Harrison credits Murphy as being the first North American to build gamelan instruments...

, Loren Nerell
Loren Nerell
Loren Nerell is a composer and performer of ambient American music and Balinese gamelan.As a composer, Loren has written music for film, theater, dance, and interactive multi-media...

, Michael Tenzer
Michael Tenzer
Michael Tenzer is a composer, performer, educator and scholar.Tenzer was born in New York City and studied music at Yale University and University of California, Berkeley...

, Evan Ziporyn
Evan Ziporyn
Evan Ziporyn is an American composer of post-minimalist music and music for Balinese gamelans. He plays the clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone, and metallophone, borrowing from classical music, avant-garde, and jazz...

, Daniel James Wolf
Daniel James Wolf
Daniel James Wolf is an American composer.- Studies :Wolf studied composition with Gordon Mumma, Alvin Lucier, and La Monte Young, as well as musical tunings with Erv Wilson and Douglas Leedy and ethnomusicology . Important contacts with Lou Harrison, John Cage, Walter Zimmermann...

 and Jody Diamond
Jody Diamond
Jody Diamond is an American composer, performer, writer, publisher, editor, and educator. She specializes in traditional and new music for Indonesian gamelan and is active internationally as a scholar, performer, and publisher.-Biography:She received a B.A. from the University of California,...

 as well as Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n composers such as Peter Sculthorpe
Peter Sculthorpe
Peter Joshua Sculthorpe AO OBE is an Australian composer. Much of his music has resulted from an interest in the music of Australia's neighbours as well as from the impulse to bring together aspects of native Australian music with that of the heritage of the West...

, Andrew Schultz
Andrew Schultz
Andrew Schultz is an Australian classical composer. Since 2002 he has lived in New South Wales on the coast south of Sydney. He studied at the Universities of Queensland and Pennsylvania and at King's College London and he has received awards, prizes and fellowships including a Fulbright Award ,...

 and Ross Edwards
Ross Edwards (composer)
Ross Edwards is an Australian composer of a wide variety of music including orchestral and chamber music, choral music, children's music, opera and film music. He is not to be confused with a British up and coming singer-songwriter of the same name.-Life:Ross Edwards was born in Sydney...

 have written several works with parts for gamelan instruments or full gamelan ensembles. I Nyoman Windha is among contemporary Indonesian composers that have written compositions using western instruments along with Gamelan. Hungarian composer György Ligeti
György Ligeti
György Sándor Ligeti was a composer of contemporary classical music. Born in a Hungarian Jewish family in Transylvania, Romania, he briefly lived in Hungary before becoming an Austrian citizen.-Early life:...

 wrote a piano étude called Galamb Borong influenced by gamelan. American folk guitarist John Fahey
John Fahey (musician)
John Fahey was an American fingerstyle guitarist and composer who pioneered the steel-string acoustic guitar as a solo instrument. His style has been greatly influential and has been described as the foundation of American Primitivism, a term borrowed from painting and referring mainly to the...

 included elements of gamelan in many of his late-60s sound collages, and again in his 1997 collaboration with Cul de Sac
Cul de Sac (band)
Cul de Sac are a rock music group formed in 1990 in Boston, Massachusetts and led by guitarist Glenn Jones. Their music is primarily instrumental. Jones and keyboardist Robin Amos have been the only constant members....

, The Epiphany of Glenn Jones. The experimental art-rock band King Crimson
King Crimson
King Crimson are a rock band founded in London, England in 1969. Often categorised as a foundational progressive rock group, the band have incorporated diverse influences and instrumentation during their history...

, while not using gamelan instruments, used interlocking rhythmic paired guitars that were influenced by gamelan. On the debut EP of Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth
Sonic Youth is an American alternative rock band from New York City, formed in 1981. The current lineup consists of Thurston Moore , Kim Gordon , Lee Ranaldo , Steve Shelley , and Mark Ibold .In their early career, Sonic Youth was associated with the No Wave art and music scene in New York City...

 the track 'She's not Alone' has a gamelan timbre. Experimental pop groups The Residents
The Residents
The Residents is an American art collective best known for avant-garde music and multimedia works. The first official release under the name of The Residents was in 1972, and the group has since released over sixty albums, numerous music videos and short films, three CD-ROM projects and ten DVDs....

, 23 Skidoo (whose 1984 album was even titled Urban Gamelan), Mouse on Mars
Mouse on Mars
Mouse on Mars is a duo from Germany who have been making electronic music since 1993. Their music is a sometimes quirky blend of IDM, krautrock, disco, and ambient with a heavy dollop of analog synth sounds and cross-frequency modulation...

, His Name Is Alive
His Name Is Alive
His Name Is Alive is an experimental rock band/project from Livonia, Michigan. After several self-released cassettes, they debuted on 4AD Records in 1990, starting a long run at the label...

, Xiu Xiu
Xiu Xiu
Xiu Xiu is an American avant-garde group originally from San Jose, California. The band is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Jamie Stewart, who has been its only constant member since its inception in 2002. His current bandmate is Angela Seo...

, Macha
Macha (band)
Macha was an experimental post-rock band from Athens, Georgia composed of brothers Josh McKay , Mischo McKay , Kai Reidl , & Wes Martin...

, Saudade
Saudade
Saudade ) is a unique Galician-Portuguese word that has no immediate translation in English. Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. It often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return...

, The Raincoats
The Raincoats
The Raincoats are a British post-punk band. Ana da Silva and Gina Birch formed the group in 1977 while they were students at Hornsey College of Art, London, England.-Career:...

 and the Sun City Girls
Sun City Girls
The Sun City Girls were an American experimental rock band, formed in 1979 in Phoenix, Arizona. From 1981 the group consisted of Alan Bishop , his brother Richard Bishop , and the late Charles Gocher . Their name was inspired by Sun City, Arizona, an Arizona retirement community...

 have used gamelan percussion. The gamelan has also been used by British multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield
Michael Gordon Oldfield is an English multi-instrumentalist musician and composer, working a style that blends progressive rock, folk, ethnic or world music, classical music, electronic music, New Age, and more recently, dance. His music is often elaborate and complex in nature...

 at least three times, "Woodhenge" (1979), "The Wind Chimes (Part II)" (1987) and "Nightshade" (2005). Avant-garde performance band Melted Men uses Balinese gamelan instruments as well as gamelan-influenced costumes and dance in their shows. The Moodswinger
Moodswinger
The Moodswinger is a twelve string electric zither with an additional third bridge designed by Yuri Landman. The rod which functions as the third bridge divides the strings into two sections to cause an overtone multiphonic sound...

 built by Yuri Landman
Yuri Landman
Yuri Landman is a Dutch experimental luthier who has made several experimental electric string instruments for a list of artists including Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Liars, Jad Fair of Half Japanese and Liam Finn...

 gives gamelan–like clock and bell sounds, because of its 3rd bridge
3rd Bridge
The 3rd bridge is an extended playing technique used on some string instruments , that allows a musician to produce distinctive timbres and overtones that are unavailable on a conventional string instrument with two bridges...

 construction. Indonesian-Dutch composer Sinta Wullur
Sinta Wullur
Sinta Wullur is an Indonesian-Dutch gamelan musician and composer.-Biography:Sinta Wullur was born in Bandung, Indonesia, and emigrated to Holland in 1968. Wullur studied music at the Sweelinck Conservatory with Willem Brons and received a degree in piano...

 has integrated Western music and gamelan for opera.

Influence on contemporary music

In contemporary Indonesian music scene, some groups fuse contemporary westernized jazz fusion
Jazz fusion
Jazz fusion is a musical fusion genre that developed from mixing funk and R&B rhythms and the amplification and electronic effects of rock, complex time signatures derived from non-Western music and extended, typically instrumental compositions with a jazz approach to lengthy group improvisations,...

 music with the legacy of traditional ethnic music traditions of their people. In the case of Krakatau
Krakatau (band)
Krakatau is a gamelan-influenced jazz band from Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. The group was formed in 1985 and is unique in that their instruments are all specially tuned to slendro, a pentatonic scale used in Indonesian traditional music...

 and SambaSunda
SambaSunda
SambaSunda is an Indonesian ethnic music fusion group based in Bandung, the capital and cultural centre of Sundanese culture, West Java, Indonesia. Samba Sunda are a 14-piece ensemble bringing together a pan-Indonesian array of instruments and influences to create a new style gamelan orchestra...

, the bands from West Java, the traditional Sundanese kacapi suling
Kacapi suling
Kacapi suling is a form of Sundanese music from West Java. It is essentially tembang Sunda minus vocals, and also at interludes between songs at a typical Tembang Sunda performance. The higher pitched kacapi rincik, the lower pitched kacapi indung and the suling flute are the instruments used for...

 and gamelan degung Sunda orchestra is performed alongside drum set, keyboard and guitars. Other bands such as Bossanova Java were fused Javanese music with bossanova
Bossanova
Bossanova is the third album by the American alternative rock band Pixies, released in August 1990 on the English independent record label 4AD in the United Kingdom and by Elektra Records in the United States. All of Bossanovas original material was written by the band's frontman Black Francis; it...

, while the Kulkul band fuse jazz with Balinese gamelan.

The Indonesian born French singer Anggun
Anggun
Anggun Cipta Sasmi is an Indonesian singer-songwriter. She has released 12 studio albums and one soundtrack album , and her songs have also been included on various compilation albums. Her musical career began in childhood, and she achieved commercial success in Indonesia when she was 12 years old...

, often incorporated Indonesian traditional tunes of gamelan and tembang style of singing in her works. Typical gamelan tunes can be trace in several songs in her album Snow on the Sahara
Snow on the Sahara
Snow on the Sahara is the first international studio album by Anggun. The album was released exactly a year after the French version, Au Nom de la Lune, was released on June 24th, 1997.-Album information:...

 such as Snow on the Sahara (song)
Snow on the Sahara (song)
"Snow on the Sahara" is a song by Indonesian singer Anggun from her first international studio album Snow on the Sahara. It was originally recorded in French with the title "La Neige au Sahara" for the French album Au nom de la lune. The song was released as Anggun's debut international single in...

, A Rose in the Wind
A Rose in the Wind
"A Rose in the Wind" is the second single from Anggun's international debut album, Snow on the Sahara in 1998. There's also a French version of the song, "La rose des vents", released in album Au Nom de la Lune in 1997 and an Indonesian version, "Kembali", released in album Anggun for Indonesia and...

, and also in her collaboration works with Deep Forest
Deep Forest
Deep Forest is a musical group consisting of two French musicians, Michel Sanchez and Eric Mouquet. They compose a style of world music, sometimes called ethnic electronica, mixing ethnic with electronic sounds and dance beats or chillout beats...

 on "Deep Blue Sea" on their 2002 album, "Music Detected". Philippines born Indonesian singer Maribeth Pascua also featuring gamelan tunes in her songs Denpasar Moon and Borobudur.

Recently, many Americans were first introduced to the sounds of gamelan by the popular anime film Akira
Akira (film)
is a 1988 Japanese animated cyberpunk science fiction film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo, written by Otomo and Izo Hashimoto, and starring the voices of Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama and Taro Ishida. The screenplay is based on Otomo's manga Akira....

. Gamelan elements are used in this film to punctuate several exciting fight scenes, as well as to symbolize the emerging psychic powers of the tragic hero, Tetsuo. The gamelan in the film's score was performed by the members of the Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese musical collective Geinoh Yamashirogumi
Geinoh Yamashirogumi
Geinoh Yamashirogumi is a Japanese musical collective founded on January 19, 1974 by Tsutomu Ōhashi, consisting of hundreds of people from all walks of life: journalists, doctors, engineers, students, businessmen, etc....

, using their semar pegulingan and jegog ensembles. Gamelan and kecak are also used in the soundtrack to the video games Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana is an action role-playing game for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System developed and published by Square in 1993. The game was re-released for the Wii's Virtual Console in 2008, and was ported to Japanese mobile phones in 2009...

and Sonic Unleashed
Sonic Unleashed
Sonic Unleashed , is a video game and the 11th installment in the Sonic the Hedgehog series developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for multiple platforms...

. The two opening credits of 1998 Japanese Anime
Anime
is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....

 Neo Ranga
Neo Ranga
is an anime television series created by Studio Pierrot which consists of two seasons, totaling forty-eight episodes. The story is about the three orphaned sisters who have, through a mysterious twist of fate, inherited their very own god - the 18 meter tall Neo Ranga.Neo Ranga was originally...

 use Balinese music (Kecak and Gamelan gong kebyar
Gamelan gong kebyar
Gamelan gong kebyar is a style or genre of Balinese gamelan music. Kebyar means "the process of flowering", and refers to the explosive changes in tempo and dynamics characteristic of the style. It is the most popular form of gamelan in Bali, and its best known musical export...

). Each "waking up" of Ranga in the anime uses the Gong Kebyar theme. The musical soundtrack for the Sci Fi Channel series Battlestar Galactica features extensive use of the gamelan, particularly in the 3rd season, as do Alexandre Desplat
Alexandre Desplat
Alexandre Michel Gérard Desplat is a French film composer. He has received four Academy Award nominations, five BAFTA nominations, five Golden Globe nominations, winning a Golden Globe for his work on The Painted Veil in 2006, and two Grammy nominations. In 2011, Desplat won his first British...

's scores for Girl With A Pearl Earring
Girl with a Pearl Earring (film)
Girl with a Pearl Earring is a 2003 drama film directed by Peter Webber. The screenplay was adapted by screenwriter Olivia Hetreed based on the novel by Tracy Chevalier. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, and Cillian Murphy. The film is named after a painting of the same...

and The Golden Compass.

Loops of gamelan music appear in electronic music. An early example is the Texas band Drain's album Offspeed and In There, which contains two tracks where trip-hop beats are matched with gamelan loops from Java and Bali and recent popular examples include the Sofa Surfers
Sofa Surfers
Sofa Surfers is an Austrian band that plays a mixture of rock and electronic music floating between trip-hop, dub and acid jazz chillout music...

' piece Gamelan, or EXEC_PURGER/.#AURICA extracting, a song sung by Haruka Shimotsuki
Haruka Shimotsuki
is a Japanese singer and dōjin music composer known for her vocal themes in the Atelier Iris and Ar tonelico series. She also wrote the lyrics and sang the ending themes to the two seasons of Rozen Maiden as well as the OVA under the name Kukui, with Myu. Shimotsuki's original music mainly consists...

 as part of the Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia
Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia
Ar tonelico: Melody of Elemia, released in Japan as is a PlayStation 2 console role-playing game produced by Banpresto and Gust. There were other media releases based on the game, including the comic Ar tonelico -arpeggio-, the OVA Ar tonelico, and several drama CDs.The story begins on the...

 soundtracks.

Gamelan outside Indonesia

Gamelan is also found outside of Indonesia. There are forms of gamelan that have developed outside Indonesia, such as American gamelan
American gamelan
American gamelan could refer to both instruments and music; the term has been used to refer to gamelan-style instruments built by Americans, as well as to music written by American composers to be played on gamelan instruments...

 in the United States and Malay Gamelan
Malay Gamelan
The Malay gamelan which exists today in Malaysia is basically from the courts of Pahang and Terengganu. Although originated from the land of Java, Indonesia, the Malay gamelan has developed a distinct identity compared to the Javanese, Balinese and Sundanese gamelan from Indonesia.The Malay gamelan...

 in Malaysia.

See also

  • Wayang
    Wayang
    Wayang is a Javanese word for theatre . When the term is used to refer to kinds of puppet theatre, sometimes the puppet itself is referred to as wayang...

  • Kulintang
    Kulintang
    Kulintang is a modern term for an ancient instrumental form of music composed on a row of small, horizontally-laid gongs that function melodically, accompanied by larger, suspended gongs and drums...

  • Music of Indonesia
    Music of Indonesia
    The music of Indonesia demonstrates its cultural diversity, the local musical creativity, as well as subsequent foreign musical influences that shaped contemporary music scenes of Indonesia. Nearly thousands of Indonesian islands having its own cultural and artistic history and character. This...

  • Legong: Dance of the Virgins

Balinese gamelan

  • Balinese Music (1991) by Michael Tenzer
    Michael Tenzer
    Michael Tenzer is a composer, performer, educator and scholar.Tenzer was born in New York City and studied music at Yale University and University of California, Berkeley...

    , ISBN 0-945971-30-3. Included is an excellent sampler CD of Balinese Music.
  • Gamelan Gong Kebyar: The Art of Twentieth-Century Balinese Music (2000) by Michael Tenzer, ISBN 0-226-79281-1 and ISBN 0-226-79283-8.
  • Music in Bali (1966) by Colin McPhee
    Colin McPhee
    Colin McPhee was a Canadian composer and musicologist. He is primarily known for being the first Western composer to make an ethnomusicological study of Bali, and for the quality of that work...

    . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Music in Bali: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (2007) by Lisa Gold, Oxford University Press, New York, ISBN 0-195-14149-0 (paper)

Javanese gamelan

  • Gamelan: Cultural Interaction and Musical Development in Central Java (1995) by Sumarsam
    Sumarsam
    Sumarsam is a Javanese musician and scholar of the gamelan.-Life:Sumarsam was born in Dander, Bojonegoro, East Java, Indonesia. He first performed gamelan at the age of seven. He began his formal gamelan education in 1961 at the Konservatori Karawitan Indonesia in Surakarta...

    , ISBN 0-226-78010-4 (cloth) 0226780112 (paper)
  • Music in Central Java: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (2007) by Benjamin Brinner, Oxford University Press, New York, ISBN 0-195-14737-5 (paper)
  • Music in Java: History Its Theory and Its Technique (1949) edited by Jaap Kunst
    Jaap Kunst
    Jaap Kunst was a Dutch ethnomusicologist, particularly associated with the study of gamelan music of Indonesia...

    , ISBN 90-247-1519-9. An appendix of this book includes some statistical data on intervals in scales used by gamelans.
  • A Gamelan Manual: A Player's Guide to the Central Javanese Gamelan (2005) by Richard Pickvance, Jaman Mas Books, London, ISBN 0-9550295-0-3

External links

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