A gambang, properly called a gambang kayu ('wooden gambang') is a xylophone-like instrument used among people of Indonesia in gamelan and kulintang, with wooden bars as opposed to the metallic ones of the more typical metallophones in a gamelan. A largely obsolete instrument, the gambang gangsa, is a similar instrument made with metal bars.
The bars of the instrument are made of a se wood, generally teak. It also found in ironwood (kayu besi). The bars mounted in a deep wooden case that serves as a resonator. Instruments typically have 17-21 keys that are easily removed, and are kept in place by having a hole through which a nail is placed. Generally a full gamelan has two sets, one gambang pelog and the other one gambang slendro.
A pair of long thin mallets (tabuh), made of flexible water buffalo horn tipped with felt, are used to play the instrument. Gambangs are generally played in parallel octaves (gembyang). Occasionally, other styles of playing are employed such as playing kempyung which are playing two notes separated by two keys. Unlike most other gamelan instruments, no dampening is required, as the wood does not ring like the metal keys of other instruments.
The gambang is used in a number of gamelan ensembles. It is most notable in the Balinese gamelan Gambang. In Javanese wayang, it is used by itself to accompany the dalang in certain chants. Within a full gamelan, it stands out somewhat because of the high speed of playing, and contrasting timbre because of its materials and more because it has a wider melodic range than the other instruments.
In Javanese gamelan, the gambang plays cengkok like the other elaborating instruments. However, the repertoire of cengkok for the gambang is more rudimentary than for other instruments (for instance, the gendér), and a great deal of variation is accepted.
The gambang gangsa has a similar construction, although it generally has fewer keys (typically 15) and is thus somewhat smaller. It has largely been replaced by the saron family of instruments. It was formerly thought to have been a forerunner of the one-octave saron, although more recent evidence, including the appearance of the saron in reliefs at Borobudur in the 9th century, indicate that the instruments are of the same age or that the one-octave saron is older.
In early 19th century writings on the Javanese gamelan, it seems to have been played like the gambang kayu; that is, as an elaborating instrument. Later, by 1890, it seems to have merely substituted for a saron, and have been restricted to a small range. Mantle Hood associated this use of limited range to a preference for certain octave arrangements of the cadences in various pathet.
Gamelan degung is a form of Sundanese musical ensemble that uses a subset of modified gamelan instruments with a particular mode of pelog scale. The instruments are manufactured under local conditions in towns in West Java such as Bogor. Degung music is often played at public gatherings in West Java, such as at local elections, as well as many other events. There is international interest in degung as well among communities in other countries interested in Indonesia and gamelan music.
Pelog is one of the essential tuning systems used in gamelan instruments that has heptatonic scale. The other, older, scale commonly used is called slendro. Pelog has seven notes, but many gamelan ensembles only have keys for five of the pitches. Even in ensembles that have all seven notes, many pieces only use a subset of five notes, sometimes the additional 4th tone is also used in a piece like western accidentals.
SlendroPlay (help·info) is one of the essential tuning systems used in gamelan instruments that has pentatonic scale. Based on Javanese mythology, the Slendro Gamelan tuning system is older than the pélog tuning system.
Gamelan gong kebyar is a style or genre of Balinese gamelan music of Indonesia. Kebyar means "to flare up or burst open", and refers to the explosive changes in tempo and dynamics characteristic of the style. It is the most popular form of gamelan in Bali, and its best known musical export.
Gamelan surakarta A typical large, double gamelan in contemporary solo (Surakarta) will include, in the sléndro set, one saron panerus, two saron barung, one or two saron demung, one gendér panerus, one gender barung, one slenthem, one bonang panerus and one bonang barung, one gambang kayu, one siter or celempung, one rebab, one suling, one pair of kethuk and kempyang, one set of three to five kenong, one set of three to five kempul, one to three gong suwukan, and one gong ageng.
A gamelan gadhon is an ensemble consisting of the 'soft' instruments of the Javanese gamelan. This can include rebab, gendér, gendér panerus, voice, slenthem, suling, siter, gong, kempul, kenong and kendhang.
The ugal is an instrument in the Indonesian gamelan orchestra. It is a bronze metallophone played one handed with a small hammer, often in a dance-like manner. There are usually ten keys, giving a maximum range spanning about two octaves. Like the gangsa and gendér, they are suspended over tuned bamboo resonators.
A gangsa is a type of metallophone which is used mainly in Balinese and Javanese Gamelan music in Indonesia. In Balinese gong kebyar styles, there are two types of gangsa typically used: the smaller, higher pitched kantilan and the larger pemade. Each instrument consists of several tuned metal bars each placed over an individual resonator. The bars are hit with a wooden panggul, each producing a different pitch. Duration of sound intensity and sound quality factors are generally accomplished by damping the vibration of the bar with the fingers of the free hand. Balinese gong kebyar gangsas, as with other metallophones in gong kebyar ensembles, are played in neighboring pairs with interlocking, rapid-tempo parts that elaborate on the melody of a piece of music ; these pairs are tuned to be dissonant and create certain wavelengths of sympathetic vibrations to create a shimmering tone that travels long distances. The gangsa is very similar to the old gendér and the saron.
A gendèr is a type of metallophone used in Balinese and Javanese gamelan music. It consists of 10 to 14 tuned metal bars suspended over a tuned resonator of bamboo or metal, which are tapped with a mallet made of wooden disks (Bali) or a padded wooden disk (Java). Each key is a note of a different pitch, often extending a little more than two octaves. There are five notes per octave, so in the seven-note pélog scale, some pitches are left out according to the pathet. Most gamelans include three gendèr, one for sléndro, one for pelog pathet nem and lima, and one for pelog pathet barang.
The slenthem is an Indonesian metallophone which makes up part of a Javanese gamelan orchestra. The slenthem is part of the gendér family. It consists of a set of bronze keys comprising a single octave: there are six keys when playing the slendro scale and seven when playing the pelog. These keys are suspended by leather cords over individual bamboo tube resonators in a wooden frame, which are cut so that the placement of the bamboo's node causes the functional length of the resonator to be shorter for higher notes. The instrument is played by striking the keys with a mallet, called a tabuh, which has a short handle and a thin wooden disk edged in cloth or rubber. One hand is left free to dampen notes. It is a low-pitched instrument with a softer sound than the saron demung.
The saron is a musical instrument of Indonesia, which is used in the gamelan. It normally has seven bronze bars placed on top of a resonating frame (rancak). It is usually about 20 cm (8 in) high, and is played on the floor by a seated performer. In a pelog scale, the bars often read 1-2-3-5-6-7 across ; for slendro, the bars are 6-1-2-3-5-6-1; this can vary from gamelan to gamelan, or even among instruments in the same gamelan. Slendro instruments commonly have only six keys. It provides the core melody (balungan) in the gamelan orchestra.
The gong ageng is an Indonesian musical instrument used in the Javanese gamelan. It is the largest of the bronze gongs in the Javanese and Balinese gamelan orchestra and the only large gong that is called gong in Javanese. Unlike the more famous Chinese or Turkish tam-tams, Indonesian gongs have fixed, focused pitch, and are dissimilar to the familiar crash cymbal sound. It is circular, with a conical, tapering base of diameter smaller than gong face, with a protruding polished boss where it is struck by a padded mallet. Gongs with diameter as large as 135 centimeters have been created in the past, but gongs larger than about 80 centimeters are more common especially to suit the budget of educational institutions.
The bonang is an Indonesian musical instrument used in the Javanese gamelan. It is a collection of small gongs placed horizontally onto strings in a wooden frame (rancak), either one or two rows wide. All of the kettles have a central boss, but around it the lower-pitched ones have a flattened head, while the higher ones have an arched one. Each is tuned to a specific pitch in the appropriate scale; thus there are different bonang for pelog and slendro. They are typically hit with padded sticks (tabuh). This is similar to the other cradled gongs in the gamelan, the kethuk, kempyang, and kenong. Bonang may be made of forged bronze, welded and cold-hammered iron, or a combination of metals. In addition to the gong-shaped form of kettles, economical bonang made of hammered iron or brass plates with raised bosses are often found in village gamelan, in Suriname-style gamelan, and in some American gamelan. In central Javanese gamelan there are three types of bonang used:
The balungan is sometimes called the "core melody" or, "skeletal melodic outline," of a Javanese gamelan composition. This corresponds to the view that gamelan music is heterophonic: the balungan is then the melody which is being elaborated. "An abstraction of the inner melody felt by musicians," the balungan is, "the part most frequently notated by Javanese musicians, and the only one likely to be used in performance."
The siter and celempung are plucked string instruments used in Javanese gamelan. They are related to the kacapi used in Sundanese gamelan.
Notation plays a relatively minor role in the oral traditions of Indonesian gamelan but, in Java and Bali, several systems of gamelan notation were devised beginning at the end of the 19th century, initially for archival purposes.
The panerusan instruments or elaborating instruments are one of the divisions of instruments used in Indonesian gamelan. Instead of the rhythmic structure provided by the colotomic instruments, and the core melody of the balungan instruments, the panerusan instruments play variations on the balungan. They are usually the most difficult instruments to learn in the gamelan, but provide the most opportunity for improvisation and creativity in the performer.
Pathet is an organizing concept in central Javanese gamelan music in Indonesia. It is a system of tonal hierarchies in which some notes are emphasized more than others. The word means '"to damp, or to restrain from" in Javanese. Pathet is "a limitation on the player's choice of variation, so that while in one pathet a certain note may be prominent, in another it must be avoided, or used only for special effect. Awareness of such limitations, and exploration of variation within them reflects a basic philosophical aim of gamelan music, and indeed all art in central Java, namely, the restraint and refinement of one's own behaviour." Javanese often give poetic explanations of pathet, such as "Pathet is the couch or bed of a melody." In essence, a pathet indicates which notes are stressed in the melody, especially at the end of phrases (seleh), as well as determines which elaborations are appropriate. In many cases, however, pieces are seen as in a mixture of pathets, and the reality is often more complicated than the generalizations indicated here, and depend on the particular composition and style.
Céngkok are patterns played by the elaborating instruments used in Indonesian Javanese gamelan. They are melodic formula that lead to a sèlèh, following the rules of the pathet of the piece.
Imbal or imbalan is a technique used in Indonesian Javanese gamelan. It refers to a rapid alternation of a melodic line between instruments, in a way similar to hocket in medieval music or kotekan in Balinese gamelan. "A style of playing in which two identical or similar instruments play interlocking parts forming a single repetitive melodic pattern."
This imbal is a method of playing in which the nuclear theme is played by one of the nyaga's 'broken up' into half-values, what time another player beats alternately with the first, but in such a way that his tones, each of which comes between two of his colleague's, are always one step lower than the nuclear theme tone immediately preceding it. From practical considerations this imbal is, if possible, divided over two demungs; if only one such instrument is available, the two players sit facing each other. The player who beats the nuclear theme tones is said to play the gawé (...); the other one, the nginţil (...).
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