Balinese Music

KNOW OUR MUSIC 26-05-2015 

Bali is one of provinces in Indonesia. Denpasar is its capital city.  The area of the province of Bali consists of small islands such as Nusa Penida Island, Nusa Lembongan Island, Nusa Ceningan Island and Serangan Island. Bali island itself is located between Java and Lombok islands.  The majority of Balinese people are Hindu.  Bali is well known in the world as a tourism destination, with various unique art and culture, especially among tourists who come from Japan and Australia.  Bali is also known as the Island of the Gods and the Island of a Thousand of Temple. Based on topographical relief, in the middle of Bali there are a chain of mountains stretching from the West to the East, some of which are volcanoes such as Mt. Batur and Mt. Agung.  Because of those mountains, geographically Bali is divided into two regions, namely North Bali with a narrow band of low land, and South Bali with wide low and flat land. Bali also has four lakes which are located in the mountains, namely Lake Beratan or Bedugul, Lake Buyan, Tamblingan and Lake Batur. The beautiful Balinese nature is well known Feature of tourism. Besides the tourism sector, Balinese people also live from agriculture and fisheries. The Balinese traditional agricultural system is called Subak and is world renouned.. Listener, before we discuss about Balinese musical instruments, let’s listen to Balinese music. 

In general, Balinese traditional music is similar with traditional music in other regions in Indonesia. There are 4 popular traditional instruments in Bali and they are still preserved by the Balinese people. Balinese people actively preserve their ancestor’s cultural heritage so that it still exists until now. The cultural heritage includes 4 kinds of traditional music namely: Balinese Gamelan, Rindik, Ceng-ceng and Pereret Pengasih-asih. Some of the names of those instruments perhaps are not quite familiar to our ears, although actually some of you have visited Bali and seen and heard the performances.  It is likely that you have seen those instruments, but you do not know those names. We’ll introduce you to the instruments one by one.

Firstly is Balinese Gamelan. Balinese Gamelan is a variety of instruments which are often played in religious rituals or traditional events. Gamelan is a set of musical instruments which consist of the gong, gambang or xylophone, gendang or a two-headed drum, kempul or a set of pitched, hanging, knobbed gongs, and boning or a collection of small gongs placed horizontally on strings in a wooden frame. In general, gamelan exists on Java, Madura and Nusa Tenggara, with the same name and instruments.

Only each region has its own characteristic when playing the Gamelan. Actually there are 25 kinds of gamelan in Bali, which have been developed in the villages. Some of them are made from bamboo and other instruments are from metal. Secondly is Rindik.  This instrument is played at events such as traditional wedding ceremonies. Usually this instrument is accompanied by the Jogged bumbung dance. Joged bumbung is danced by a woman who looks for a man from the audiences, and then invites him to dance together. This traditional music which is made from bamboo, is usually played at hotels to welcome guests or to entertain guests. Thirdly is Ceng-ceng. This musical instrument is similar with the cymbal and it is an important part of Balinese gamelan because this instrument will make dynamic sound effects when it is played with gamelan. This Balinese traditional instrument is often called ceng-ceng ricik, consisting of six circles of metal on the top.  Ceng-ceng is played by hitting the round copper top with the round bottom portion directed upward. The instrument looks like a turtle, and people believe that this Balinese traditional instrument took form from the legendary figure of Bali, a mystical turtle. According to Balinese culture, the mystical turtle has magical qualities. It can hold the entire world on its back. And the last instrument is Pereret Pengasih-asih. Pereret is one of the Balinese traditional musical instruments which is similar with the trumpet and made from carved wood. Pengasih-asih is a magic formula. This instrument which is from Jembrana is played by blowing it.  It is usually played to accompany Sewo Gati art, which is similar with Arja art. This instrument is usually played by a man to attract the girl he loves. Before playing the instrument, Pereret Pengasih-asih is filled with magic power by Jero Balian (shaman) by giving sacred offering to Sanghyang Pasupati. It is quite spooky, isn’t it?



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