Gamelan, the Javanese Orchestra
Gamelan is surely not a foreign music. It has been popular in most continents and has created new music integration, for example jazz-gamelan, has born institution as learning space and gamelan music expression and it has produced famous gamelan musicians. Gamelan music instrument can now be enjoyed in various parts of the world, but Yogyakarta is the right place to enjoy it since you can enjoy the original version of gamelan.
Gamelan that grows in Yogyakarta is Javanese gamelan, one form of gamelan that is different from Balinese gamelan or Sundanese gamelan. Javanese gamelan has softer and slower tones; it is different from Balinese gamelan that is very dynamic and Sundanese gamelan that is melodious with domination of the voice of seruling or traditional bamboo flute. The difference is just natural since Java has its own view of life that is expressed in its gamelan music melody.
The Javanese view of life that is expressed in its gamelan music is the harmony of physical and spiritual lives, harmony in talking as well as behaving in order not to create explosive expression and to realize people tolerance. The real form of harmony in Javanese gamelan music is the moderate play of rebab string, voice harmony of kenong, saron kendang and gambang and the voice of gong ate each closing of the melody.
There is no definite history of gamelan existence. The development of gamelan music is predicted to begin from the existence of kentongan, rebab, tap on the mouth, rubs on string and thin bamboo until the introduction of metal music instruments. Further development after named by gamelan, this music was used to accompany leather puppet show and dances. Later it became independent music and it was completed with voices of female singers called sinden.
A set of gamelan consists of several music instruments; some of them are drum called kendhang, rebab, and celempung, gambang, gong and bamboo flute or seruling. The main components composing the gamelan music instruments are bamboo, metal, and wood. Each of the instrument has its own function in a gamelan music show, for example the gong functioning to close the long music melodies and to give balance after the music was previously decorated by Javanese music melodies.
Javanese gamelan is music with pentatonic melodies. A complete gamelan play consists of two cycles, namely slendro and pelog. Slendro has 5 melodies per octave, namely 1 2 3 5 6 [C- D E+ G A] with small interval difference. Pelog has 7 melodies per octave namely 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 [C+ D E- F# A B] with big interval difference. Gamelan music composition was created with some rules, namely consists of some cycles and pathet, confined by one gong and the melodies were created in a unit consisting of 4 melodies.
You can see gamelan as an independent music performance or a companion of a dance or performance arts such as leather puppet show and ketoprak. As an independent performance, gamelan music is usually combined with the voice of the Javanese singers (male singers are called wiraswara and female singers are called waranggana or sinden). Gamelan music performance can be classic or contemporary. One form of contemporary gamelan is jazz-gamelan as a combination of music with pentatonic and diatonic melodies.
One of the places in Yogyakarta where you can see gamelan performance is Yogyakarta Kingdom. On Thursdays from 10:00a.m. to 12:00p.m. gamelan is performed as an independent music performance. On Saturdays at the same hours, gamelan is performed as companion of leather puppet show, while on Sundays at the same hours, gamelan accompanies Javanese traditional dance. Please come to Bangsal Sri Manganti to see the performance. Meanwhile, in order to see older gamelan music instrument, you can go to other hall of the kingdom that is located a little further at the back.Text: Yunanto Wiji Utomo