Home Indonesian Music Know Our Music: Genggong and Balinese Gamelan

Know Our Music: Genggong and Balinese Gamelan

KNOW OUR MUSIC 07-07-2015 

Welcome to KNOW OUR MUSIC, a weekly segment introducing you to Indonesian traditional music and musical instruments from across Indonesia. This week we’ll invite you to visit Bali Island to learn about its traditional musical instruments, Genggong and Gamelan. 

Listeners, you have just listened to genggong rhythm from Bali. People know Bali because of its great culture and art. One of the Balinese arts is karawitan. In Balinese karawitan, Genggong is a unique ensemble. Genggong has a very small and simple form. However, this handy acoustic instrument has quite a difficult technique. As seen from its shape, genggong is a vibrating musical instrument, and it is becoming less well known. Its uniqueness is its sound, which is like the voice of frogs in the rice fields at night. Another unique feature of genggong is the use of a man’s oral cavity as a sound resonator. One ensemble consists of at least two instruments, one of which is bigger. Sometimes, there are four instruments or more to make for subtle variations, or cecandetan. This instrument is only for entertainment, such as in wedding ceremony. Genggong is made from the midrib of a palm tree, or in the Balinese language it is called “pugoug”. The midrib chosen to make Genggong is the old and dried one, preferably which is dried in the trunk itself, and the outer skin. Then, a 2 centimeter wide and 2 centimeter long rectangular incision is made. The vibrating part of the instrument is in the middle of the incision, and has a distance of 2 cm from the tip of the incision. Then, at the right tip of the incision, a 5 centimeter long hole in made in which to place the string. The string is tied on a 10 centimeter long, round, small bamboo. When playing the genggong, the right hand vertically holds the handle to pull the string until it is vibrating. Listeners, you can buy genggong instrument at souvenir shops in Bali.  Well, before we talk about another Balinese traditional musical instrument, gamelan, let’s listen to genggong rhythm. Enjoy the music. 

Listeners, now we’ll introduce you to 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, a collection of small gongs placed horizontally on strings in a wooden frame. In general, gamelan exists on Java Island, Madura and Nusa Tenggara, with the same name and instruments. Every region has its own characteristic when playing the Gamelan. Actually there are 25 kinds of gamelan in Bali, which have developed in the villages. Some of them are made from bamboo and other instruments are from metal. The emergence of Balinese Gamelan is believed to be part of Hindu and Buddhist religious ceremonies. Evidence of gamelan musical instruments in Indonesia, including Balinese gamelan, developed together with Buddhist and Hindu tradition and culture, can be traced from Javanese mythology that has existed since the era of the Majapahit Kingdom. However, since Balinese gamelan has frequently traveled around the world, it is experiencing interaction with other tools so that the combination of rhythm, melody and timbre are richer but still retaining the characteristic of Balinese gamelan, which is able to bring the magical atmosphere from the rhythm of the gamelan instruments. In Bali alone, there are at least 25 kinds of Balinese gamelan, which have developed in rural areas in Bali. However, all these instruments are oriented to the interests of religious Life, mainly Balinese Hindu. Listeners, that was a brief look at traditional musical instruments from the island of Bali. To conclude Know Our Music for today, let’s listen to the rhythm of Balinese traditional music. Enjoy the song. I am......thank you for listening and sampai jumpa…


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