A gamelan is a traditional musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Java and Bali, featuring a variety of instruments such asmetallophones, xylophones, kendang (drums) and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. Vocalists may also be included. For most Indonesians, gamelan music is an integral part of Indonesian culture. 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. Contents [hide] * 1 Terminology * 2 History of gamelan music * 3 Varieties of gamelan ensembles * 4 Cultural context * 5 Tuning * 6 Notation * 7 Influence on Western music * 8 Influence on contemporary music * 9 Gamelan outside Indonesia * 10 See also * 11 References * 12 Further reading * 12.1 Balinese gamelan * 12.2 Javanese gamelan * 13 External links
The word gamelan, referring only to the instruments, comes from the low Javanese word gamel, referring to a type of hammer like a blacksmith's hammer. The term karawitan refers to the playing of gamelan instruments, 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 smooth, elegant sense idealised in Javanese music. Another word from this root, pangrawit, means a person with that 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 (copper and tin) or tiga and sedasa (three and ten), referring to the materials used in bronze gamelan construction or their proportions. -------------------------------------------------
History of gamelan music
Musicians performing musical ensemble, bas-relief ofBorobudur
Gamelan orchestra (1870-1891)
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. In contrast to the heavy Indian influence in other art forms, the only obvious Indian influence in gamelan music is in the Javanese style of singing, and in the themes of the Wayang kulit (shadow puppet plays). 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 mountain in Medang Kamulan (now Mount Lawu). 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 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 are the oldest known ensembles, the Munggang 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 tradition and is related to the traditions of singing Javanese poetry, in a manner which is often believed to be similar to performance of modern bedhaya 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,...
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