THE INSTRUMENTS FOR GAMELAN BALI


In the following I will describe the Gong Kebyar instruments at University of Hawaii and note common variations found in Bali. Our Gong Kebyar ensemble consists of gongs (a gong agung, a Kempul, and a Kemong), gangsa (one pair of jegogans, a pair of jublag, an ugal, two pair of pemade, and two pair of kantil), reyong, kempli, cengceng, and two pair of drums (kendhang). Also, we have a trompong.

The gangsa family (also called gangsa gantung) consists of instruments which have brass or bronze keys suspended over a resonating bamboo tube. The Balinese gangsa differs from the Javanese gender in that the keys make a louder sound, create more harmonics, cover additional octaves, and are designed to be struck with different hammers.

The gangsa in Gong Kebyar are not damped like the gender of Java but like the sarun (gangsa) of Java. That is, one hand plays while the other damps. However, this style damping is done only when the next key struck is different even when playing fast; note this differs from Java every key as damped as the next key is struck.

The instruments are: UGAL , JEGOGAN , JUBLAG , KANTIL , PEMADE , REYONG , GONGS , KENDHANG , KEMPLI , CENG-CENG , and TROMPONG.

UGAL

Ugal: Generally speaking the ugal carries the melodic line (pokok) and is the melodic leader when the trompong is not used; this instrument requires long resonating bamboo tubes so is often played while sitting on a chair or bench. The ugal may relinquish its melodic leadership to the jublag and then provide kotekan (see below) leadership. There are 10 keys (2, 3, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and i) so the instrument spans two octaves. It shares the upper four tones of the jublag and the lower octave of the pemades.

JEGOGAN

Jegogan: The lowest pitched of the gangsa is the jegogan; this instrument also requires long resonating bamboo tubes so is played while sitting on a chair or bench. It has five keys (1, 2, 3, 5, and 6); jegogan with seven keys are also commonly found in Bali. It plays at submultiples of the pokok and is played particularly at important structural points where the gongs also play.

JUBLAG

Jublag: The next higher pitched of the gangsa is the jublag; this instrument also requires long resonating bamboo tubes so is often played while sitting on a chair or bench. Ours have five keys (1, 2, 3, 5, and 6); seven key jublag are also commonly found in Bali. It usually plays at submultiples of the pokok; the keys are struck more frequently than the jegogan and usually less frequently than the ugal (playing the pokok). It is one octave above the jegogan and shares tones with the ugal. Another name for the jublag is calung.

The ugal may relinquish its melodic leadership to the jublag and in which case the jublag provides the melodic leadership. Also in some Gong Kebyar ensembles, there may look to be two pair of jublag, each playing at a different submultiple of the pokok. The name for the second pair is pampacah.

KANTIL

Kantil: The two pair of kantil share their lower octave with the pemade. They are, thus, above the ugal which carries the melodic line (pokok) and is the melodic leader; this instrument requires only very short resonating bamboo tubes so is played without a chair or bench. There are usually 10 keys (2, 3, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and i) so the instrument spans two octaves. The instruments can play the pokok or kotekan (interlocking patterns between the members of the pair) parts based on the pokok.

PEMADE

Pemade: The two pair of pemade are an octave above the ugal which carries the melodic line (pokok) and is the melodic leader; this instrument requires only short resonating bamboo tubes so can be played without a chair or bench. There are usually 10 keys so the instrument spans two octaves (2, 3, 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and I). The instruments can play the pokok or kotekan (interlocking patterns between the members of the pair) parts based on the pokok. It shares the lower octave with the ugal and the upper octave with the kantil.

REYONG

Reyong: The reyong is a series of small horizontal gongs atop string carriages (like the Javanese bonang except all the small horizontal gongs are in one straight line); the frequency range of this instrument spans more than several octaves. It seldom carries the pokok; typically it plays the kotekan or imitates a cengceng. The instrument is played by two or four players. It shares all tones with the pemade and incorporates most of the kantil tones.

In our ensemble we have a four player reyong consisting of 12 small gongs beginning with pitch 2. Within each of the two octaves on the reyong, the higher small gongs are used for the polos part and the lower gongs for sangsih part when doing kotekan. In Bali it is not uncommon to find 2 player reyong containing 8 small gongs.

GONGS

Gongs: The large gongs for Gong Kebyar are made on Java and designed to create more than pure tones. The gong agung is like that used in Gamelan Jawa. There are often both male (lanang) (higher pitched) and female (wadon) (lower pitched) gongs; these are designated as (G) and G in the notation. When the male gong is not available, its stroke may be omitted or replaced with a female gong stroke. In our ensemble, the kempur and the Kemong use tone 6. Note that the tuning of the gongs varies from ensemble to ensemble (Ornstein, pp. 103-106).

KENDHANG

Kendhang: Gamelan Bali use two pair of drums (kendhang); the lower pitched female pair of drums is termed wadon and the higher pitched male pair of drums is termed lanang. Pak Sumandhi taught us three male drum strokes (p = pak, v = pung, and tut = t) and three female stroke (k = kap, u = pung, and d = dag). The drums can also be struck with a single wooden drumstick held in the right hand as describe in Tenzer.

KEMPLI

Kempli: The kempli is the time keeper marking the pulses in the pokok. It is a small horizontal gong mounted to absorb some vibration; it is about the size of those used in a bonang barung from Java. Its tuning is 6 in our ensemble but varies from ensemble to ensemble (Ornstein, pp. 103-106). Another name for the kempli is the kajar.

CENG-CENG

Cengceng: The cengceng consists of 4 or 5 horizontally mounted pairs of cymbals; each pair differs in diameter and thickness and creates differing pitches.

TROMPONG

Trompong: The trompong is a series of small horizontal gongs atop string carriages like the Balinese reyong or the Javanese bonang (except, in the latter case, all the small horizontal gongs are in a straight line). Our trompong has 10 small gongs (beginning with tone 5); the frequency range spans two octaves. It seldom carries the pokok; however, it provides melodic leadership and often ornaments the pokok. The instrument is played by one player. It shares all tones with the reyong and incorporates some ugal tones.

GONG KEBYAR MUSIC EXAMPLES

MUSICAL FORMS

GO TO KOTEKAN BALI

GENERAL MUSICAL APPROACH

RETURN TO HOMEPAGE FOR GAMELAN BALI