The word ‘gamelan’ is actually the Javanese word for the bronze instruments. The music probably came over from Java around the fourteenth century, but the Balinese adapted it to suit their own personality, and now the sounds of the Javanese and Balinese gamelan are distinctive. Javanese gamelan music is more restrained. This modern Balinese style, known as gong kebyar, has been around since the early 1900s, coming out at a time of great political problems on the island, when the role of Bali's royal houses was irreparably dented by Dutch colonial aggression. Over eighty years later, gamelan orchestras are an essential part of village life. A recent census found that there are currently 1,500 active gong kebyar ensembles on the island. A gamelan is an ensemble which is made up of a variety of instruments including metallophones, drums, gongs, bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings, and vocalists may also be included. If a dance takes place somewhere, the gamelan will be there too because dance and gamelan are very closely linked in Balinese culture. The Gamelan closely interacts with the dancer, each movement and gesture is reflected in the music and the same goes for the dancer as well. You can imagine the dancer as an instrument of the gamelan which is more of a visual thing. The dancer’s movements are associated to the instruments’ strokes and the dancer’s eyes have the same brightness as the metal's sounds. The Involvement is very strong between the dancer and the drum. There are occasions where the dancer comes to play an instrument whilst moving in a dancing manner.
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