This photograph shows the angklung instruments played by
Gamelan Anak Swarasanti. At the back are the three large
gongs, with the smaller kempul gong in front of them.
In front of the kempul are the two jegogan
which carry the bass melody. Three different types of gangsa
instruments are arranged in front of the jegogan
- these represent a range of three octaves above the jegogan
pitch, and are used to play the more complex interlocking
melodies. These instruments may be physically arranged in
different ways, depending on the performance situation.
To the far right is the large reyong instrument,
which is played by four players.
The instruments played by Gamelan Anak Swarasanti are described
in more detail below. Gamelan instruments in general are
considered sacred and are treated with the utmost respect.
They must not be stepped over, and players must remove their
shoes when sitting at the instruments.
The instrument cases are highly decorated in red and gold,
and are made up of three main parts - the foot, the body,
and the head. The foot (base) is the part that connects
with the earth and is carved with plant symbols, roots,
snails and flowers. The middle section or body contains
the bamboo resonating tubes which are situated beneath each
of the keys to amplify the sound. The body is also decorated
with elaborate carvings, including the sacred bird Garuda
at each corner, who protects the space occupied by the player
and ensures that he or she is not influenced by evil forces
while playing. The upper section, or head, of the instrument,
again elaborately carved, arches up as if to the heavens.
Mid-range front row instruments - these carry the main
melody, and often play an interlocking melody, or kotekan,
in which the instruments play alternate notes, damping inbetween
to create the effect of playing at twice the speed. Gamelan
Anak Swarasanti uses four pemades.
The kantilan are one octave higher than the pemades.
These instruments are often placed in the second row, and
carry the same melody as the pemades, or an embellishment
of this melody. Gamelan Anak Swarasanti uses four kantilan.
The kuwir are one octave higher than the kantilan
and add further tonal enrichment to the main section. Gamelan
Anak Swarasanti uses two kuwir.
The jegogan are tuned one octave below the pemades
- the two jegogan carry the root melody or bass line
of the piece. The jegogan are typically placed behind
the other 4-keyed instruments, and in front of the gongs.
Gamelan Anak Swarasanti uses two jegogan.
The 4-keyed instruments described above are collectively
known as the gangsa. The following instruments complete
The reyong or reong is a long instrument
consisting of a wooden frame on which 8 bronze pots are
mounted on leather strapping. The 8 pots provide two octaves
of the 4-note scale, matching the range of the pemade
and kantilan instruments. It takes four players to
play the reyong, each player taking two pots. The
reyong is one of the more difficult instruments to
master, as it requires a high degree of precision and coordination
with the other players. However, the reyong is capable
of creating some of the more spectacular effects of the
ensemble and is a key instrument.
At least one gong - the small kempul or kempur
- shown above, is required for a gamelan angklung.
Gamelan Anak Swarasanti also uses a pair of larger gongs,
which are used particularly when accompanying dance pieces.
The gongs are considered the spiritual heart of the gamelan,
providing the foundation pulses that anchor the rest of
the ensemble and the markers that denote the end of one
major cycle and the next - this has been compared with the
cycle of death and rebirth. The gongs always receive special
offerings at performances and are considered to be highly
The kajar is a time-keeping instrument, similar
to one of the reyong pots, but played by a single
player beating out a constant rhythm. This beat serves as
a reference grid for the rest of the ensemble to help keep
the precision split-second accurate. A second, higher-pitched
time-keeping instrument called a klenang is also
Pronounced "cheng-cheng", the ceng-ceng
consists of a set of four small cymbals mounted inverted
on a wooden frame, which are struck with a pair of small
cymbals held by the fingers to create crashing and shimmering
punctuation along with the drummer - the ceng-ceng
player is often the drummer's apprentice. The ceng-ceng
is a deceptively difficult instrument to play well.
The suling - a bamboo flute - is the only wind
instrument in the ensemble. It generally plays and embellishes
the root melody as laid out by the jegogan. In Bali, suling
players use circular breathing - breathing into the lungs
through the nose and out through the mouth, allowing them
to play continuously without pausing for breath.
The drums, or kendang are played by the leader of
the gamelan and signal time changes, transitions, and other
punctuations in the piece. There may be one or two drummers.
Gamelan Anak Swarasanti uses two sets of drums in its angklung
orchestra - a small pair for "sitting pieces",
and a larger pair for accompanying dancers. As with the
metallophones, the drums also come as a male/female pair.
The drums are often played in an interlocked fashion, and
are the most difficult of all the instruments to master.