Angklung Beleganjur Other Styles
"I definitely loved the gamelan. I have heard gamelan before of a different style, and Saturday's set was much more listenable to me"

Most of the gamelan music heard in the West is either from Java or Sunda (West Java), or Bali. The styles of gamelan from Java and Bali are strikingly different. Javanese and Sundanese gamelan tends to be softer, and quite dreamy and hypnotic in nature. Balinese gamelan is often much louder, and more flamboyant and dramatic, but also includes quieter, contemplative pieces.

The photo above shows a Sundanese (West Javanese) gamelan at UCSC - this is Undang Sumarna's Sundanese gamelan (Undang is seen seated at left). The instruments are fairly austerely decorated in Islamic style.

This photo shows the Balinese angklung instruments played by Gamelan Anak Swarasanti and also the UCSC teaching gamelan, Gamelan Swarasanti, on the same stage as the Sundanese instruments. By comparison, the Balinese instruments are elaborately decorated and painted in bright red and gold, as visual offerings to the Hindu-Balinese gods.

Balinese Gamelan Music

Balinese gamelan music has many different forms. The most common that a visitor to Bali might encounter are the marching gamelans (beleganjur) - often seen in street processions including cremation processions; gamelan gong kebyar - the most commonly found "performance gamelan", played by a large seated orchestra; and gamelan angklung - a smaller orchestra often heard at cremations and other ritual events, and occasionally to accompany dance performances. Gender wayang is a type of gamelan that is typically played in small groups of two to four players to accompany wayang kulit, or shadow puppet plays.

The image shown above is of a marching gamelan beleganjur in Ubud, Bali, playing in a post-cremation ritual procession that must be done before the ashes can be committed to the sea. Notice that each player plays a single reyong pot - this is a more common form than that played by Anak Swarasanti. Beleganjur is discussed in detail on the page on beleganjur instruments.

Gamelan Gong

Gamelan gong and particularly its cousin gamelan gong kebyar is a hugely popular form of gamelan in Bali. The kebyar style of playing is incredibly fast and flashy, with spectacularly complex arrangements - the word kebyar means, literally, a flash or a flaring up, as in the way a lighted match flares up, and this is certainly reflected in the playing. This image is of a large gamelan gong orchestra at a temple ceremony in Singapadu, Bali.

This image shows the gamelan instruments more clearly - this was taken during a break in the playing, and the children took advantage of the opportunity to play on the instruments. These particular gangsa instruments have 14 keys each, giving them quite a wide range.

The orchestra typically includes both a reyong, as in the angklung orchestra, as well as a trompong - similar to a reyong, but played by a single player with extra-long pangguls to reach the extreme ends of the instrument. The reyong is shown below at left, and the trompong at right.

Gender Wayang

Gender wayang typically takes the form of a small chamber group of two or four players that accompany the traditional shadow puppet performances, wayang kulit. The instruments, shown below, are played with a pair of hammers, rather than a single hammer as in most other forms of gamelan. The damping on the keys is accomplished using the sides and backs of the hands.