Angklung Beleganjur Other Styles
"...so that's what I heard coming through the trees... the gamelan orchestra!"

Gamelan is a form of unique and exotic music originating in the islands of Indonesia in South East Asia. Gamelan Anak Swarasanti plays on two different types of Balinese gamelan orchestras - a gamelan angklung (pictured below), and a gamelan beleganjur - the marching or processional gamelan.

The ownership of the instruments is shared with the University of California at Santa Cruz. The University owns the set of angklung instruments, to which members of Gamelan Anak Swarasanti have provided the additional large gongs. The beleganjur instruments are owned by members of Gamelan Anak Swarasanti, and are provided on loan to UCSC for teaching and performance purposes.

Balinese gamelan is native to the island of Bali, Indonesia. Bali is the only island of the Indonesian archipelago that maintained its Hindu-Buddhist culture after the influx of Islam into Indonesia in the 16th century. However, the nominally Hindu-Buddhist culture of Bali is in fact overlayed onto much more ancient traditions and religions that have their roots in animism and rice culture. Gamelan music is inseperably interwined with Balinese spirituality, which in turn is inseperably intertwined with all aspects of everyday life in Bali.

Gamelan music is played at all temple ceremonies and processions in Bali, and is considered a sacred form of music. It is also played for entertainment, for tourists, etc, but even then it is surrounded with ritual and ceremony. Offerings are made for the gong - considered the spiritual center of the gamelan - at each performance, and once a year the entire set of gamelan instruments is blessed with offerings to ensure its continued success. Gamelan instruments, being sacred, are treated with the utmost respect.

A gamelan orchestra is often considered to be a single instrument played by many people, divided into smaller components for ease of playing. Each gamelan is made as a unique set, with its own characteristic tuning. The bronze keys for each gamelan are all forged at the same time from the same alloy in order to create a matched tuning for that particular set of instruments. For this reason a set of gamelan instruments is often considered indivisible. If one instrument is lost, it cannot be replaced, since a new instrument would of necessity be forged from a new alloy and would have a different sound from the rest of the gamelan. The integrity of the gamelan would be gone forever.

Many different styles of gamelan are played in the islands of Indonesia, on widely differing sets of instruments. These pages discuss the angklung and beleganjur instruments that are played by Gamelan Anak Swarasanti, and touch on some of the other styles that may be heard by a visitor to Indonesia.

Next page - Angklung Instruments