Name: Gamelan Angklung
Geographic Region: Southeast Asia
Country of origin: Indonesia
Climatic type: Tropical
Time period: Before 12th century CE - present
Classification: Multi Classed Ensemble
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Gamelan is an ensemble that consists of metallophones, gongs, drums and flutes. The metallophone instruments and gongs produce tones when struck with mallets. The ensemble, in various sizes and forms, can be found in a number of Indonesian islands. In Java and Bali, gamelan has developed into an expansive ensemble, while a variety of smaller ensembles continue to exist. In Bali alone, there are many different kinds of gamelan. The following description focuses on one particular type of Balinese gamelan, gamelan angklung.
Instruments and their functions in the ensemble:
As in other forms of Indonesian music, instruments in gamelan angklung may fall into three basic functional categories.
Tuning System and Scale:
Since the mid-20th century Balinese music scholars have adopted some Javanese musicological terms to describe Balinese tuning systems. The Balinese indigenous term for the angklung tuning system is saih angklung. However, more recently the angklung tuning system has been called a slendro system, consisting of two smaller intervals (each roughly a major second) and one larger interval (a minor or major third). The angklung mode has four notes which are referred to using the solfege syllables deng, dung, dang, ding (in ascending order). In pedagogical contexts, this solfege is used to orally communicate material to the musicians. Some contemporary angklung ensembles add a fifth note (dong).
Historical and Social Context:
According to some sources, gamelan angklung is a ceremonial village orchestra that never received patronage by the Balinese courts. While the ensemble may be used in lieu of larger ensembles (gong gede and gong kebyar) to perform ceremonial music, it is most commonly used to accompany cremation rites. In other parts of Indonesia the term angklung is used to describe bamboo rattles, which are performed in an interlocking manner akin to carillon bells. Colin McPhee writes that these rattles were once integrated with the gamelan angklung. However, this practice is rarely encountered in Bali today.
McPhee, C. 1966. Music in Bali: A study in form and instrumental organization. New Haven, Yale University Press.
Last Modified: 28-May-2010TOP