Probably the most common ensemble in Bali, Seka Angklung (Ahng-Kloong), not to be confused with the bamboo instrument (Anklung), is a bronze Slendro Gamelan used to accompany various rites for cremation, Potong gigi (tooth filing ceremony), wedding and Pura (temple). This gamelan consists of several paired four bar Gangsa played with hard gender mallets, Reyong, and very small Kendang drums. Rarely the Angklung has nine slendro tones, sometimes six, however, four tones is the standard. The reyong used in angklung again vary slightly. Two gongs are mounted at the ends of a horizontal stick perpendicular to it. Four of these make a complete Reong section but it is possible to have only two as the interlocking parts, like most other instances, are doubled at the octave.
The gamelan angklung uses a 4-note slendro-derived scale,roughly to the western notes G, A, B, D,or this interval. The instruments are paired, with male and female instruments of each type, the male tuned slightly higher, and the female slightly lower than the nominal pitch. This causes the pulsing/beating effect of Gamelan music.
Two jegogan reinforce the core melody(pokok) and mark the longer phrases.
The gangsa instruments have a range of two octaves above the jegogan pitch.
The highest-pitched gangsa (Kantil) are used to play rapid interlocking figurations and melodies.
The mid range gangsa (calung or jublag) play the core melody (pokok).
Timing of a Gamelan
The gamelan Angklung has a lot happening at once, 4/4 time,
quarter notes , half notes, different accents, the important
thing as a listener is to realise the gong agung sounds on the
last beat —
not the first. It signifies the end of a stanza which
will repeat on the next beat ( first beat ).
In this sample you will notice then that the Jegogan starts on
the 2nd beat.
G = Gong Agung K = Kempul
J = Jegogan
Reyongs= Quarter beats with differing accents -
played by 4 musicians.
Gangsas= Half on beats — polos,
Half off beats— Sangsih : Together sounds like
The Instruments of the Angklung
Seka Sunari Budaya: Sarinbuana, Tabanan, Bali.
The four metal bars of the instruments, as pictured below, are suspended over bamboo resonators encased in hand-carved jackfruit wood. The Kantil is the smallest of these with a high pitch. Also known as Ju Curing locally. These instruments play the same or embellish the music of some of the Gangsa.
The Gangsa is the second size of this metallaphone. This instrument is responsible for the main melody,however, some of them may play alternately making the music sound twice the speed, this alternation is referred to as Kotekan. To acheive this the players must be expert at dampening the previosly struck note.(known as tekep)
The Jegogan is the largest of these metallaphones in the Angklung. It plays the 'bass' notes of the ensemble which sometimes holds its own melody.
The Reyong is a long framed instrument holding eight inverted bronze pots, having small knobs on top, bosses, which are hit with sticks by 4 players sitting alongside, each player being responsible for his own section. The 8 pots provide two octaves of the 4-note scale, matching the range of the gangsa and kantil instruments. It takes four players to play the reyong, each player taking two pots. The reyong is one of the more difficult instruments to master, as it requires a high degree of precision and coordination with the other players. The soundscape provided by the Reyong can be quite spectacular.
The Tawa Tawa, sometimes known as the ketuk, is the beat keeper of the ensemble, everybody in the angklung depends on this instrument for timing.
Drums, called kendang, are double-ended and held across the lap, they come in a variety of sizes depending on the usage. Conical in appearance, Balinese drums are carved in an hourglass shape inside. Most are played with the hands but some larger varieties are played with a ball headed stick on the larger head. Drums in Bali are always paired, with the lower pitched drum called the Wadon, or female, and the higher pitched drum called the Lanang, or male.. They give the orchestra it's accents and dynamics..
The kendang is considered the most difficult instrument in the gamelan. The diameter is greater at one end than the other, which creates a rounded belly-like swelling at one end. They produce a wealth of sounds, from sharp cracks to deep hums and booms.
6 small bronze cymbals are fastened to the top of a wooden stand, 2 are loose. The seated player holds a cymbal in each hand. He clashes them against the fastened cymbals. The effect is loud, colorful and exciting. Balinese woodcarvers decorate the jackfruit wood stands with Balinese legends, like the mythical turtle, who balances the world on his back.
Pairs of large heavy bronze cymbals struck together by 3 or 4 players in the more exciting sections of the music, often emphasising the drummers accents, used mostly for processional music.
The largest of the freestanding gongs. This gong was not originally part of the Angklung but has been added to help dancers using the music in more recent times. The gongs main function to provide metrical accents, and define the stanzas in the music. Spiritually the heart of the Angklung.
Gongs, as the strongest and most important timbre in most gamelans, legislate the character of the set of instruments to which they belong. A gamelan, so it is said, is only as good as its gong
The second of the large gongs the Kempul strikes twice the large gong.
The smallest of the gongs, this gong is suspended over a carved wooden stand and is struck with a leather covered timber straight mallet. The kelenang strikes more often than the larger gongs.
High pitched end blown bamboo flutes, suling, are often part of the Angklung.
The suling plays and embellishes the root melody . In Bali, suling players use circular breathing technique (as do Didgeridoo players in Australia), breathing into the lungs through the nose and out through the mouth, this allows them to play continuously without pausing for breath.
The Suling in Bali can be played in both the slendro and pelog scales sing variations of fingering.