Traditional Music Ensemble
Indonesia has several kind of traditional music ensemble such as Tanjidor (from Betawi), Kolintang (from Sulawesi), Calung (from West Java), Aklung (from West Java) and Gamelan from Java and Bali). Javanese Gamelan and Angklung are available to be viewed at the Consulate of the Republic of Indonesia.
The Gamelan Musical Instruments (gamel = hammer)
Indonesia’s gamelan music is nowadays quite well known outside Indonesia, but a question, which is often asked, is: just how old is it? Nobody knows for sure yet. But in the reliefs of the old Hindu-Javanese temples in Java, dating from the 7th and the 8th centuries, one can already recognize some pictures representing gamelan instruments.
Most instruments in a gamelan orchestra are percussion instruments (entailing the use of a hammer or mallet) and are made from a tin-copper alloy known as ‘gangsa’ (bronze). They are mounted on teakwood frames, which are brightly painted and lavishly decorated with gold leaf.
The Javanese Gamelan has two tuning scales – the slendro, which is pentatonic (5 tones), and the pelog, which is septatonic (7 tones). A complete gamelan orchestra may contain 75 instruments, 30 players and 10-15 vocalists. Gamelan music is polyphonic, and four groups of instruments contribute to the total effect.
The conductor does not stand in front of the orchestra with a baton, but conducts by beating the drums (kendang) with his hands. The rebab (a two-stringed violin) plays the melody, with variations provided by the suling (a bamboo recorder). The saron (brass xylophone) and the gender (xylophone with resonating tubes under the keys) play the main theme and add beauty to the melody. The bonang (double row of pots resting on a horizontal frame) and gambang (wooden xylophone) paraphrase the main theme, sometimes syncopating or filling the gaps. The large gong marks the end of a main phrase, while the kenong and the ketuk (smaller horizontal gongs) mark intermediate divisions of the phrases.
Gamelan Sekar Puri
The Perth Indonesian Consulate Gamelan Ensemble has existed since 1995. The ensemble consists of Indonesian and Australian players and rehearses weekly from 08.00 pm - 10.00 pm on Thursdays. Several distinguished teachers have taught the ensemble. These include: Mrs Didi Hardanti Moulton, Mr Djoko H Santjojo and Mr Sutendri Yusuf. Since the ensemble’s beginning, some of participating members have also changed.
Sponsored by The Sociocultural and Information Division of the Consulate of Indonesia, the ensemble has conducted many performances throughout Western Australia.
As of February 2002 the ensemble changed its name from Gamelan Dutika Sari to Gamelan Sekar Puri, which means Flowers of the Palace. Due to its growth, Gamelan Sekar Puri applies two rehearsal times for two different ensembles. The second ensemble that consists of new participants scheduled after the first one.
Besides played by Gamelan Sekar Puri, The Perth Indonesian Consulate’s gamelan has also been regularly visited and played by many Western Australian students. It is turning out to be a valuable instrument to learning about aspects of Indonesian traditional music and culture.
Angklung music is made by playing a set of at least 14 hand held bamboo instruments, each of which produces a particular note when shaken or “trembled”. Bamboo tubes of varying widths are cut to certain lengths so that they make the same note in different octaves, and 2, 3 or 4 tubes are secured on a frame. When the frame is shaken, two projections at the base of each tube ‘sound’ as the knock against the ends of the slots in the bamboo base into which they are suspended. Members of an angklung orchestra hold the angklung in their left hand and shake it with their right when it is their turn to play that particular note. Cooperation and concentration are needed to produce this delightful music.
Dharma Wanita Persatuan Angklung Ensemble
The Angklung Ensemble of Perth Dharma Wanita Persatuan started to rehearse on 1997. Conducted by Mrs Martha Budiman, the ensemble rehearses on Thursdays after gamelan session. Many awards has achieved by the ensemble from its performances across Western Australia.
These Sundanese traditional music instruments represent the Indonesian “gotong royong” Community self help. Cooperation and concentration are needed to produce this delightful music. At least 21 players needed to play all the three sets Angklung, which was donated by Mrs Mimi Teddy.