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Gamelan Jegog & Dance


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    Gamelan Jegog & Dance

    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 jegog, for which the ensemble is named.
    The resonant bass tones of the gamelan jegog can be hear heard a kilometer or more away in the (increasingly rare) quiet areas of Bali. Many unique forms of interlocking figuration have been developed for jegog, weaving complex melodic textures entirely within a strange four-tone scale, used for no other gamelan in Bali.

    The music of the gamelan jegog is energetic and powerful. Part of the energy derives from the sheer physical strength needed to play the heavy instruments. The lowest pitched jegog is so large that its two players must squat on a plank above the tubes; they often use both hands to wield the heavy rubber mallets. But another source of this energy certainly derives from its most popular performance tradition, jegog mabarung, a battle-of-the-bands competition between two groups. In this charged atmosphere, speed, precision, exuberance and power are winning traits. While mabarung are also held—quite famously—between kebyar groups, their competitive style is of a different order, seldom showing the uninhibited frenzy found in jegog mabarung. Before one group is finished, the other will burst in with its own piece; both then play as furiously as possible in a contest of endurance, concentration, and group virtuosity. For the audience, their unsynchronized tempi and sheer volume create a pulsating, phase-shifting wall of sound.

    A full gamelan jegog consists of the following percussion instruments, each with eight bamboo tubes:

    • Three barangan, seated in front play the main melody. The middle barangan, which leads the ensemble, plays a decorated version on the beat. The outer players play off the beat.
    • Three kantilan and, an octave higher, three suir, all playing interlocking figuration.
    • Two undir and, an octave higher, two celuluk, playing the bun (melody). Players alternate between right and left hands playing paired slightly detuned pitches.
    • One jegog, an octave lower than undir, with two players executing the bun also playing paired detuned pitches.

    Suling (bamboo flutes) often embellish the bun. On occasion, usually when accompanying dance, there might also be kendang (drums), ceng-ceng (cymbals) and tawa-tawa (a beat-keeping small gong) .

    The four-tone tuning of gamelan jegog is unique in Bali. Although this scale can be roughly imitated by selecting certain pitches of the seven-tone pelog scale (#2, 3, 5, and 7), this connection seems more accidental than causative, considering the disparate lines of historical and musical development between 7-tone court genres and West Balinese traditions.



    Jegog instrumental overture played as a sort of invite for all the musicians of the troupe to come together and create magic with music. Tari Panyembrahma (Welcome Dance)

    A popular Balinese welcome dance, it is generally performed by two or more women dancers. The dancers carry bowls of flower petals, handfuls of which are cast into the air at various times during the course of the dance. A ‘dance of greeting’, once performed to welcome the King’s arrival to a ceremony or to welcome royal guests, the Panyembrahma is popularly performed today to welcome the audience and invite auspicious spirits to enable a good performance. Unlike the exhibition dances that demand arduous training this may be performed by anyone. It is taught simply by imitation. The costume worn by a Panyembrahma dancer comprises a tapih (layered cloth coat), a kamben (sarong), a belt, a shawl and a headdress made up of roses and frangipani.

    Tari Gopala Dance

    This dance provides the audience with an interesting insight into the lives of people who live in a simple and pure manner in an environment of blissful tranquillity. This dance originated in 1984 and is usually performed by five male dancers. The characters of the Gopala dance are especially comic and aim at generating laughter from the audience.

    The Gopala theme depicts the world of the children herdsmen who gleefully meet and play along the boundaries of the rice fields while tending their cows. Their lives are full of simple happy moments and nuances, as they dance and play, each highlighting their individual characters. They never tire of their duties as herdsmen, faithfully safeguarding their cattle, yet find their way to fun and frolic that is characteristic of childhood. Thus the audience is transported to a simpler ancient times when people lived in simply and in peace and contentment, an era which has not yet become influenced by the bustle of the faced paced business world where there is no time for leisure and simple joys.

    Tabuh Kreasi Jegog Campur

    The Gamelan Jegog is one of the most impressive sounding ensembles one can experience when in Bali. It is an orchestra of bamboo marimbas, with keys (tubes) ranging from small to gigantic, the largest ones, up to three meters long, used for the bass Jegog, after which the performance is named. Created in the early 20th century in the western district of Jembrana in West Bali, where bamboo of large dimensions grows, the music of the Gamelan Jegog is energetic and powerful.

    One experiences sizzling sonic pleasure – bamboo instruments, drums, flutes and loads of seductive percussion together creating spectacular speed, precision, exuberance, power and uninhibited frenzy.

    Gamelan Jegog is performed at competitions played as overture to dance performances and may also be played as an accompaniment at the annual Mekepung (buffalo) races, which take place in Negara, the capital of Jembrana.

    Tari Belibis Dance (Duck Dance)

    The Belibis dance depicting a group of Belibis (heron or wild duck), is amongst the most jubilant dances performed in Ubud, wherein the choreography reflects the joy of young herons enjoying

    The performance is based on the story of King Anglingdarma who was cursed and transformed into a Belibis duck by his wife. While transformed, he attempts to play with the group of herons, but is eventually discovered to be human and they fly away. The dance was choreographed in the year 1984 by Swasthi Widjaya Bandem and the music was composed by I Nyoman Windha.

    Mekepung Dance

    The Mekepung race traces its origins to the west coast of the Jembrana Regency, where the Madurese immigrants from Madura came and settled, bringing with them their tradition of the annual Mekepung (Buffalo) race. The mekepung race of today varies slightly from the original, having incorporated several Balinese influences. Mekepung Dance like wise is a happy blend of Madurese and Balinese dance traditions and is performed by a group of 5 or more female dancers and 5 or more male dancers. The female dancers symbolize buffalos, while the male dancers perform masculine movements to depict the shepherds and the buffalo riders. Unlike most of Bali’s dances, the performers of Mekepung wear rather simple costumes. The female dancers wear sparkling yellow tops, tight black trousers and headdresses that resemble buffalo ears. Some authentic Balinese fabrics, ornaments and accessories are used to brighten up the overall look of the dancers. Meanwhile the male dancers who act as the riders, wear bright orange knee length pants covered with authentic Balinese fabric, matched with orange sleeveless tops and hold a whip throughout the whole performance.

    The dance itself narrates the whole process of Mekepung Race, initially comprising, playful and dynamic movements and mimicry replicating a buffalo’s activity in the fields, frolicking with other buffaloes and getting caked in mud. Then a group of shepherds arrives in the field and begins to herd the buffaloes into neat lines simultaneously using their authoritative powers to tame them so that they can be safely ridden. In the finale, the shepherds ride the buffalos as if going into the race, charged and determined to win.