10 Fascinating Facts about Gamelan music of Indonesia

music, traditional culture, cultureGamelan is a traditional music in Indonesia. It usually used as accompany Indonesian Traditional Puppets, Traditional Songs of Indonesia, and Traditional Dances of Indonesia. When it held the official event of the kingdom in the palace, gamelan will be used as the music as accompanist.

Especially, if there are members of the palace that married in a cultural tradition of Java. Javanese people also use the gamelan music when holding a wedding reception. Besides, gamelan has some facts that might make a pride for Indonesians.

  1. Considered as the best original soundtrack at the Golden Globe

Have you ever watched Life of Pi film? The film that tells about the life of a survivor in the middle of ocean becomes so popular in the world. Mychael Dana, a music stylist inserted the gamelan of Bali for that film. This sent her success to win Best Original Score at Golden Globe. It should be a pride for Indonesians that Gamelan could be accepted in the world.

  1. Gamelan sets have spread into many countries

Gamelan has expanded to 5 countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, the United States and Japan. In the United States, there are more than 500 units of gamelan sets. While in Japan there are found at least 100 units. Moreover, in Singapore almost every elementary school has one gamelan device. In addition gamelan is also in demand in various countries such as England, Australia, Germany and France. In the United Kingdom, gamelan is used as a therapeutic tool for inmates who lose their confidence.

  1. Played in outer space

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) set up two spacecraft namely Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. The team of NASA gave a decision that Voyager will bring the best music, photo galleries, and sounds of life both natural and artificial. Everything was recorded in the form of a golden sound disc named Voyager Golden Record.

At the time of selection, the musical sound of Javanese gamelan  appears as one of the proposals. The music is titled Puspawarna, the lyrics made by Prince Adipati Arya Mangkunegara IV from Surakarta (1853-1881), the contents have meaning to commemorate his wife and mistress. Besides, the musical sound gamelan, Indonesian Language is also considered as one of the language that is recorded.

  1. There are 120 Gamelan groups in America

According to the data from the Embassy of RI, there are 120 groups of gamelan America. They exist in various universities. The total of registered group is up to 400 gamelan groups in 45 US states. The groups are very active. They often conduct gamelan performances in several places of America. It should be a pride for Indonesians. Remember that as Indonesians you have to preserve gamelan as one of traditional music of Indonesia.

  1. Learnt in 20 abroad universities as the compulsory subject

Out of expectation, the gamelan has already been famous to abroad. It found that at least 20 universities in abroad that consider gamelan as one of their compulsory object or extracurricular. As the example there is a Gamelan Duta Laras community in Cambridge University, England that gives a facility for any students that want to learn how to play gamelan.

While in Singapore the Gamelan has been famous since many years ago. It becomes a compulsory subject in elementary school. And almost all elementary schools in Singapore have gamelan.

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  1. The first World Gamelan Festival is conducted in Canada

The first World Gamelan Festival is conducted in 1986 in Canada. Since then, there have been at least a hundred groups of ensembles and gamelan studies in the United States, not included in other countries.

The festival is continuously conducted every year in Canada. The enthusiasm of the gamelan lovers from all part of the world looks so great. There are hundreds even thousand participants that join this festival. Meanwhile in Indonesia the first Gamelan festival was held in Yogyakarta on July 2-4, 1995.

  1. Every gamelan instrument has each function

The composition of gamelan music was created with several rules, consisting of several rounds or called ‘pethet’. In a unit of gamelan instrument consists of 4 tones. There is a pelog-pitched and the slendro-pitched, gamelan which has pelog tones called Gamelan Pelog while has Slendro tones called Gamelan Slendro.

In addition, gamelan Instrument consists of:  gambang, gender, saron, slentem, gong, kempul, tap, kenong, bonang, Kendhang, Flute, Rebab, and siter. All of those instruments have each function.

  1. The first illustration of gamelan was found in Borobudur temple since 8th century

The illustration of the first ensemble musical instrument was found in Borobudur Temple, Magelang Central Java in 8th century. Musical instruments such as bamboo flutes, bells, kendhang in various sizes, harps, plucked and picked of stringed instrument are found in the relief. That is why the relief of the instrument is said to be the origin of the gamelan.

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  1. There are various types of Gamelan

There are various types of gamelan found in Indonesia. The type o gamelan usually will be different from the size or function. The types of gamelan in Indonesia consist of Sundanese, Java, Bali, Madura, and Lombok. Their development usually is influenced by the culture around. That is why you would find some differences while you hear gamelan of Bali played with while Javanese gamelan played. (Read also: Gamelan Facts)

  1. The creator of Gamelan is Sang Hyang Guru

According to History of Gamelan in Indonesia, it was created by the Sang Hyang Guru as a god who once controlled all of Java. He was the god who invented the musical instrument gong, which was used to summon the gods. It can be concluded that gong was the first instrument of gamelan that made. At the time of Hindu-Buddhist culture in Majapahit Kingdom, gamelan was introduced to Javanese society by Majapahit Kingdom.

Not only what I explained above, here the videos about How gamelan being played as performance, as follows:

Those are the facts of gamelan. Some of facts show that gamelan is well known in abroad. Many people from other country are interested to learn how to play gamelan. As Indonesians, do you have any intention to learn gamelan too? You have to preserve gamelan as one of the national cultural heritage. It might be possible that other country will claim gamelan as their musical tradition if you don’t care.