Gamelan Music

The Balinese orchestra is called a gamelan. The Bali-Hindu religion requires the gamelan for the success of the thousands of ceremonies performed every year.

There are more than two dozen distinct types of gamelan, each with their own traditions, repertoire and social or religious functions.

The music is full of insistent rhythms and elegant patterns. There is hardly any improvisation. Traditionally musicians are male, but women are now receiving recognition, such as the women’s group in Ubud.

Gamelan Gong Kebyar
Style: Bali
Background: This is the most widespread type of gamelan in Bali. 25 to 35 musicians produce really intense, loud, lively, exciting music, with rapid changes of tempo, full of sudden starts and stops.

The mainly percussion instruments are played in unison.

There are a number of different sized instruments, metallophones that look like xylophones, called gangsas, which have bronze keys that are hit with little wooden hammers which causes bamboo resonators below the keys to vibrate. They may have 4 to 14 keys and are grouped in pairs. After the keys have been hit by the hammer in the right hand, the left hand immediately grasps the key to stop the sound merging in the next note.

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