Performing Ensembles

The musicians of Gamelan Sekar Jaya play on various types of gamelan—sets of bronze or bamboo percussion instruments that are made and tuned together to form an integral, and indivisible, whole. Each presents a unique universe of tuning, sound color, and style. Some members play in only one of our gamelan ensembles, others in more than one. Occasionally, as in our 30th anniversary celebration, all of the organization’s ensembles perform in the same concert.

Gamelan Sekar Jaya also hosts a dance ensemble, which meets on its own schedule but also joins music rehearsals, particularly when a performance draws near, to coordinate the movement, posture, characterization, and feeling of the dance as closely as possible with the music—and to give the musicians a parallel opportunity to adjust to the dancers. The two must be completely wedded to make the best performance.

The gamelan angklung is one of the most popular types of orchestras in Bali, requiring about twenty musicians. Tuned to a four-tone scale in slendro tuning, the gamelan angklung presents a cheerful, open, and rhythmically intricate musical landscape, expressed in the fluid grace of its traditional repertoire.

The gamelan gong kebyar is the most prevalent type of bronze orchestra in Bali, requiring about 25 musicians. It takes its name from the dynamic kebyar style which was born in the early twentieth century-a time of tumultuous political and social change, reflected in music of contrasting moods, and powerful, virtuosic character.

Like Bali’s music traditions, Balinese dance encompasses a wide range of styles and forms. This is no surprise, since dance and music co-evolved and are seen as inseparable: Details of music and dance are tightly coordinated, and an ideal of perfect unity is sought in every gesture, nuance, expression, phrase, and rhythmic change.

The gamelan jegog is one of the most impressive sounding ensembles in the world. It is an orchestra of bamboo marimbas, with keys (tubes) ranging from small to gigantic. The largest tubes, up to three meters long, are used for the bass jegogan, for which the ensemble is named.

Wayang

Music for the Balinese shadow puppet theater (wayang) is provided by four musicians playing ten-keyed gendèr—one of Bali’s most technically challenging yet rewarding instruments. Because of its role in dramatic accompaniment, music for the gendér wayang ensemble is wide ranging both in mood and character.

Gamelan Sekar Jaya activities are supported by generous grants from the following: