One of the most influential types of music-making in Indonesia is that of Gamelan. Gamelan describes a type of ‘orchestra’ made up mainly of tuned percussion instruments, which often accompanies performances of rod or shadow puppetry.
The word 'gamelan' means 'to hammer'. Gamelan music is found mainly in Bali and Java. The two styles differ but are based on the same principles.
The music is made up of interlocking layers. Each layer is played by a different instrument. The layers are usually based on a core melodic line called a balungan. The texture is heterophonic.
Gamelan music is characterised by the following:
Two different tuning systems are used - slendro, a five note scale and pelog, a seven note scale. Tunings vary, but here are the approximate pitches:
A gamelan is a set of instruments consisting mainly of gongs, metallophones and drums. Some gamelans include bamboo flutes (suling), bowed strings (rebab) and vocalists. Each gamelan has a different tuning and the instruments are kept together as a set. No two gamelans are the same.
Listen to Jauk Masal played by Gong Kebyar. The first instruments you'll hear are the kendang (two-headed drum) and the ugal (two-octave metallophone).