Pelog is one of the two essential scales of Gamelan music native to Bali and Java , in Indonesia
( non-harmonic musical scale).
| Pelog notes
| Approx. piano notes
| Selisir variation,(Bali)
| Tembung var
| Sunaren var
To help understand the modes in Balinese music below is the approximate Treble cleft positioning of the 7 notes in the pelog scale (named: bem gula dada pelog lima nem barang). Be aware that only 5 of these notes are used to make up the Pelog mode and its variations. These are not fast rules as I have heard pelog intervals vary slightly from this chart, this makes naming the scale pelog very difficult as it begins to sound like slendro.
Pelog may also originate from a ten tone master scale.
Below are 2 of the Pelog Modes played, the notes are taken from the scale. The names of the notes in the mode change as shown in the figure .
The mode mostly heard in Bali is the Pelog Selisir ( shown below). In the same reference I have added the Slendro scale so you can see the difference. Notice how the Slendro scale is more evenly spaced.
Instruments -------- Gong Kebyar, Gamelan Gong, Pelegongan, Semar Pegulingan, Beleganjur, Jegog scale is four tones, most commonly thought of as a form of Pelog.
Pelog is a seven tone scale, although only five of the seven pitches are typically used at one time.
The basic seven intervals, where 1 equals an approx. half step, 2 equals an approx. whole step, and 3 equals an approx. minor third, are 1 2 3 1 1 2 2. There are wide variations of Pelog. Some may be closer to the intervals 2 1 3 1 1 2 2. In real practice, Pelog is best described as a combination of mostly approx. half steps and major thirds. The presence of a half step, or lack of it, is an easy indicator for distinguishing by ear between Pelog and Slendro. If we number the pitches 1 through 7, the actual five tone Pelog scales used in Gamelan are predominantly 1 2 3 5 6, 1 2 4 5 6, and 2 3 5 6 7. Calling an approx. major third 3+ and a near fourth 4, this gives intervallic relationships of 1 2 3+ 1 3+, 1 4 1 1 3+, 2 3+ 1 2 2, respectively. These scales sometimes intermesh and overlap, particularly in Java. Balinese pelog is also theoretically seven tones, but most instruments only have the pitches 1 2 3 5 6 available. There are only a few types of Balinese instruments capable of producing seven tones, mostly classical ensembles, such as Semar Pegulingan and Gong Suling, not in great use anymore. Playing these intervals on a piano or other instrument, if no gamelan is available, can help to gain a sense of the character of the different scales and how the pitch substitutions occur.
Pelog seven-tone scale, whose underlying tuning concept is less obvious. One possibility is that the tuning approaches a nine-tone equal temperament (9ET), using both single steps (133 Cent) and double steps (267 Cent) from an imagined 9ET scale, which is a particular element of the historical tradition of Javanese Music.
Pelog, from an Indonesian point of view is much more about the feeling of the scale. Anyone trying to understand this scale should not try to do so analytically until they understand the music and culture it comes from..