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BALINESE GAMELAN: BALI’S TRADITIONAL PERCUSSION ORCHESTRAS

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Balinese gamelan orchestra- Hindu ceremony- Bali

Balinese gamelan troupe at local funeral ceremony

Balinese gamelan troupe at local funeral

BALINESE GAMELAN: BALI’S TRADITIONAL PERCUSSION ORCHESTRAS

Balinese gamelan music is a dynamic choppy fast-paced percussion orchestra consisting of several gamelan ‘marimbas’, drums and cymbals.

balinese gamelan instrument
balinese gamelan instrument
balinese gamelan instrument


Gamelan is played throughout Bali at Hindu ceremonies and as accompaniment to Balinese dance dramas. To western ears gamelan sounds quite bizarre initially because it lacks a continuous melody. Instead there are sudden pauses and changes of pace, melody and rhythm. Once you get accustomed to it, though, gamelan is quite charming and soothing.

Balinese gamelan orchestra- Hindu ceremony- Bali
local gamelan troupe’s evening rehearsal
Happily, gamelan music often fills the air throughout Bali island. Gamelan troupes perform at Hindhu temples, weddings, funerals and other ceremonies. In many areas tinkling gamelan rehearsals can be heard in evenings 2-3 times/week as local gamelan troupes practice for the nearly constant Hindu ceremonies.
balinese gamelan rehearsal
gamelan cymbals clanging

Some areas of Bali  including Ubud, Peliatan and Sanur, are particularly famous for their gamelan troupes.  In Ubud, Bali’s ‘cultural heart’, almost nightly dance drama performances accompanied by live gamelan are performed for tourists. In Ubud you can also watch dynamic rehearsals and even occasional gamelan competitions.

balinese gamelan instrument
elaborately carved and gilded design on an Ubud gamelan ‘marimba’
 Upscale hotels and restaurants in Bali’s major tourist areas also present regular dance/ drama/ gamelan performances during dinner. In addition many shops, restaurants and resorts play recorded gamelan as background music throughout the day. Thus gamelan music is an integral part of daily life around the island for both Balinese and travelers.
QUESTIONS: 
Have you seen a live Balinese gamelan performance? What did you think of it? 
If not, do you think you’d like to? 
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