Gamelan Gong Kebyar

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  • Topic: Gamelan, Gamelan gong kebyar, Bali
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  • Published : March 16, 2011
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Gamelan Gong Kebyar

Gamelan is thought to come form a Javenese word gamel, which means ‘ to handle’ (Sumarasam 1995 :319-320). It also refers to a type of hammer particularly appropriate for metal percussion instrument that dominate gamelan ensemble because of the way the instruments are made and played. The instruments originated probably from northern Vietnam, where visitors brought bronze object and technology in about 300 B.C and possibly rice cultivation technology as well. (Hood 1980: 122)

Balinese history can be viewed as four different eras. The earliest postprehistoric stage, so called Indigenous Bali is considered to have begun during the third millennium B.C., with vast amount of migrants from mainland Southeast Asia.(Goris, 1960) Followed by the second period of Balinese Hindu Culture immigrants from India. The third phase of Balinese History started at the end of fifteenth century after the collapse East Javanese Majapahit dynasty where the leaders flee into Bali and cultural development took place over the next four hundred years under Majapahit descendants. The Dutch colony in the twentieth century marks the last period in Balinese History.

According to Michael Tenzer in his book Gamelan Gong Kebyar, the gamelan music plays an important role in traditional life of people in Bali is based on the concept of “Collectivity”. It was said that prior to modern era, interwining of collective behaviour and social stratification was reflected in the may intersecting dimensions of cultural production such as religious believe and practice, craftmanships and plastic arts, performance and literature and others. (Tenzer 2000, 76). And each of there was a collective undertaking with broad social and religious benefits, with the aim to reinforce, or to serve to legitimize, the divine of power of noble and priest(*rephrase this*). The Dutch colonial enterprise supplanted the organizing structure of the kingdoms gradually during the start of mid-nineteenth century. In this situation where political and social influences was much affected in Bali, the gap between rich and poor divided by the caste system was greater and Sekaha was the institution that linked between them. Sekaha, are nonhierarchic groups or clubs that undertake cooperative work of all kinds, ranging from ritual preparation, irrigation, artistic and production and local governance and extending to contemporary enterprises like import-export collectives, car-rental agencies, and computer workshops. (Tenzer 2000: 77)

As mentioned earlier, music plays an important role in traditional life. Next we will examine how all these relate to the concept of ‘Collectivity’. Pura, are temples and differs in terms of sizes and its function. In a state temple, gamelan is required during odalan, anniversary festivals that take place in each 210-day cycle according to the ritual calendar. Some other temple includes village temples and family temples. Most ceremony held in the temples requires gamelan music for either accompaniment or as offerings for the rituals. Desa Adat, the “village customary law”, understood as a community shares devotional obligation to organize and arrange gamelan from different area to serve services for any particular event or when ritual need arise. A Banjar, is a social institution associated with collective action and reciprocal equality among members, and it has been the primary and original context for cultivating kebyar. (Tenzer,2000 : 80) The banjar steered by a council, consisting of each male head of household are responsible for issue that are related to customary law. Sekaha as mentioned earlier, are subgroups affiliated with a banjar, which has elected leaders such as treasury and secretary.(wat they do)(sekaha gong page 82)

Kebyar is a new music genre itself in the context of gamelan music in the early 20th century when Balinese society was in the midst of tremendous social upheaval, moving toward modernity...
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