A gamelan is the traditional musical accompaniment for religious ceremonies and celebration in Bali. The rattle-rattle, glong-glong sound is more than a bunch of people banging instruments and in fact is a complex musical choreography. Gamelan is a Javanese word that means bronze instruments. The style played in Java, such as you will hear on the CD Degung Instrumental: Sabilungan (the gentle flowing music played in many hotels in Bali) is typical of the Javanese gamelan style. In Bali the style is much more like a Jamaican steel band marching down the street bashing dustbin lids. Its is highly syncopated, lively and filled with energy. Gamelan orchestras come in many sizes ranging from 4-50 instruments.
Instruments in a gamelan include:
Metal xylophone made from bronze and set in wooden jackfruit stands. The largest have 14 keys, the smallest 4 keys. The bars are strung out in a line on top of bamboo resonators. The frames are usually painted bright red.
A double-ended cylindrical drum.
The mostly commonly used metallophone, which comes in 3 parts.
The largest and deepest sounding part of the Gangsa. The Ugal takes care of the melody
A medium sized and sounding part of the Gangsa that takes care of the melodies and trills.
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The smallest part of the Gangsa, with the highest sounds.
A bronze kettle drum usually played in a row of 10 or more.
A group of 4 kettle drum players sitting side by side.
A single large hanging gong indicates the beginning and end of a melody.
A set of players holding pairs of symbols of different sizes.
A bamboo flute.
Classical 2-stringed violin.
A type of Jews harp made from palm wood.
Each of the instruments takes a long time to learn and requires an understanding of the rhythms and intricacies of the music.