Javanese Gamelan Music

Gamelan is a percussion-dominated musical ensemble. It is also known as a Gong-chime musical ensemble. This musical ensemble consists of bronze gongs and metallophones. Besides Indonesia, gamelan is played in Malaysia too.

Gamelan music is in polyphonic stratification structure. It means the music are composed by layers of simple melody lines or rhythm patterns. There are five categories in this polyphonic stratification:

1. Nuclear Theme
2. Elaboration
3. Punctuation
4. Counter-Melody
5. Rhythm
You can find out the instruments in these different categories at Function of Instruments.

Gamelan music is in cycle, or in musical term, ostinato. Usually the music will repeat over and over, until the drummer give a signer to end the performance. Also the music often performed in interlocking style.

There are two tuning system for Javanese Gamelan:

1. Pelog - This is a seven tones scales, involving half steps.
2. Slendro - This is a pentatonic (five-tones) scales, without half-steps.

These two sets of tuning system are played by two different sets of gamelan metallophones.


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