By: Sahrudin – @SahrudinSaja
I DON’T know how to express my happiness, knowing that gamelan has spread throughout many countries, and reaching across boundaries of culture.
It was a thrill of seeing some websites put up pictures of children playing gamelan orchestra at schools, and videos of talented and enthusiastic students playing gamelan at several universities — in the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and in the United Kingdom, as well as in some other countries in Europe.
It is very surprising that in the US, for example, about 400 gamelan communities disperse to 45 (of 50) states.
About 127 among these gamelan groups, although lesser known, are still active and occasionally perfom, according to Haryo Winarso, the Indonesian Embassy’s Education and Cultural Attaché at Washington, Kompas reported.
In Australia and New Zealand colleges, there are almost 20 gamelan orchestra groups in addition to gamelan lessons in a number of primary and secondary schools.
Dozens of cultural researchers in the two countries, mainly from Australia, have written books about gamelan from various viewpoints.
Therefore, finding English-language websites contain information on both gamelan communities and gamelan lessons, is also really easy now.
GAMELAN, that consists of predominantly metallophone and gong type instruments, is probably Indonesia’s most popular traditional ensemble.
The orchestra can be found in provinces of West Java, Central Java, and East Java as well as Bali Island.
Gamelan is played specifically to facilitate a traditional or contemporary dance, a leather puppet show, and also to accompany several types of traditional ceremonies.
Besides metallophones and gongs, a full set of gamelan usually consists of instruments like gambang (xylophone), rebab (bowed strings), and a set of kendang, two-headed drums made of wood and buffalo leather.
A full gamelan set employs two tuning systems, slendro and pelog. It is usually the slendro set faces the front, and the pelog set the side.***