A gamelan is a traditional ensemble of music instruments from Indonesia, from Java or Bali. It is sort of like an orchestra, but maybe not really in the strict sense as each instrument is not considered individual within the whole gamelan. All of the instruments together are considered as one instrument. This particular gamelan is from Bali but lives in the Museum of Music in Barcelona.
A friend of mine, Jordi, who is really passionate about gamelan, is the director of this gamelan. He has a group of fantastic musicians that practice the gamelan, and once in a while offer a performance. The next one will be on the 21st December, in case anyone will be around in Barcelona and is interested. Check out their facebook here. They are, up to this date, the only gamelan group in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula, (including Portugal). Recently he bought over a guest, a Balinese gamelan master, Made, who lives in Brussels. I learnt that there is a huge Balinese community in Brussels. They spent the whole weekend practicing gamelan with him, and I was excited to be able to come and snap away with my camera.
The xylophone featured in my mystery photo that many of you guessed, is technically a metallophone, which means that its bars are made of metal, as opposed to wood.
In western music we are used to a scale of seven notes with five semi-tones between them. In gamelan, a pentatonic scale is used. The names of the notes vary in accordance of the precise origin of the gamelan. In this Balinese gamelan the five notes are called: ding dong deng dung dang.
In Bali, everything is made into beautiful sculptures. As you can see, the gamelans are no exception.
It wasn’t the first time I had listened to them play, or practice for the matter. They are a great group, but it was so great for Made to come over and teach further, teach them more ancestral Balinese musical knowledge.
I was going to use this turtle photo for my previous mystery moment post. But I thought it might make you scratch your head and raise an eyebrow, lol.
Which is my favourite instrument from the gamelan? If I had to pick one it would be the gong. Next time I’ll request to to play it. When I was standing next to it to photograph it, each time the gong was struck, the most incredible sound wave came out of it. And I mean incredible, as if I could feel the expanding wave.
I’ll be going to the concert and will update if I manage to make a decent video. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed the pictures.
Thank you Jordi and Made!