The 15th Annual
November 20, 2004

 Glebe Music Festival

In conjunction with The Glebe Society Inc

Balinese Gamelan Music and Dance
Presented by Sekaa Gong Tirta Sinar

Margaretta Cottage
Saturday 20 November 2004 at 1500hrs

1. Kebyar Ding

In the nearly 100 years since its creation, the bold and technically brilliant kebyar style of gamelan music and dance has come to dominate the many distinct gamelan genres found in Bali today, freely absorbing and adapting aspects of more traditional forms to enrich its innovative performative aesthetic. The instruments you see before you today constitute a kebyar-style ensemble, of gamelan gong kebyar.

The now classic kebyar-style composition, Kebyar Ding, created in the southern Balinese village of Belaluan in the 1920s, displays all of the formal characteristics that have come to be associated with the style:

(i) an explosive opening unison attack played by the entire ensemble, from which the style derives its name (kebyar means 'bursting open', like the sudden blossoming of a flower, or 'flaring up', like a match when struck);
(ii) chains of short, repeated melodic phrases, marked by frequent stops, starts and unpredictable changes in direction;
(iii) sudden transitions from loud, impulsive movement to relative stillness and calm, accompanied by equally abrupt changes in melodic character.

2. Gilak Deng Baris Gede

Cyclical gamelan melodies supported by a repeated gong cycle of 8 beats' duration, where the gongs sound the pattern…GP.PG (G = large suspended gong; P = medium gong), are known as gilak. The pervasive mood of the gilak form is one of ceremony, and it provides a structural basis for much that accompanies temple and cremation rites.
The gilak in today's recital is characterized by a 24-beat melody, spanning thee 8-beat gong cycles, which begins on the third note (deng) of the Balinese pelog scale - hence the name, Gilak Deng. The words 'Baris Gede', which complete the title, indicate that the melody of this particular gilak has been borrowed from the sacred dance, Baris Gede, in which rows (baris) of men dressed as warriors dance in the temple courtyard bearing long lances. This music, unlike most played at temple ceremonies, is not performed as an offering to ancestral deities, but rather to appease demonic underworld forces forever on the lookout for an opportunity to wreak havoc in the human realm.
3. Tari Panyembrama
This secular welcome dance (tari means 'dance') derives from a much older sacred dance called pendet, still danced in temples today by groups of women during odalan (temple anniversary rites). The purpose of pendet is to welcome ancestral deities recently descended from their heavenly abode to inhabit temple shrines for the duration of an odalan. Tair Panyembrama, as a secular counterpart to pendet, serves as a welcome not for deities, but for guests at weddings and public receptions, and also welcomes tourists to Bali at hotel performances.

4. Gambangan

Created in 1926 by renowned Kuta musician, I Wayan Lotring, Gambangan is a secular instrumental work for gamelan pelegongan, a smaller, sweeter ensemble than gamelan gong kebyar used primarily to accompany the traditional legon dance, from which the ensemble gets its name.
The title, Gambangan, which means' in the manner of gambang, alludes firstly to the fact that the principal melody of this piece incorporates a direct quotation from a work in the repertoire of gamelan gambang (a ritual form of gamelan played only during cremation and odalan rites) and, secondly, to the complex interlocking figuration played on gangsa (10-keyed metallophones), which mimics similar figuration executed on the instruments of the gamelan gambang ensemble.


5. Gambang

Created in the 1930s, Gambang is a one-movement instrumental work frequently used to bridge a lull in proceedings at official functions, for example when waiting for important guests to arrive. The cyclical form of this work lends itself perfectly to such a context, as it may be repeated continuously for as long as required.

The title, Gambang, refers to the fact that the principal melody is set in the characteristic syncopated rhythm of the sacred gamelan gambang ensemble (see 4 above). Apart from its irresistible melody, another 'earcatching' feature of Gambang is the complex melodic figuration executed on reong, an array of twelve tuned gongs suspended horizontally on a long wooden frame and played by up to four people.

6. Tabuh Bebarongan

Every Balinese village is served by three key temples, or pura, one at the mountain-end, a second in the centre and a third at the sea-end of the village - these are the Pura Puseh, Pura Desa and Pura Dalem. The last of these, the Pura Dalem (Death Temple), is the site of village purification rites, whose purpose is to keep omnipresent demons appeased and the village consequently free of famine, pestilence and any other calamity of a sinister supernatural origin that might befall it.
One of the more important and dramatic of these ceremonies is the annual Calonarang rite, in which the dual forces of good (represented by the lion-like Barong) and evil (embodied in the terrifying figure of the widow witch, Rangda) are rebalanced in such a way as to leave Barong with a slight advantage over his terrible rival, Rangda.
Tabuh Bebarongan, as an instrumental overture to the Calonarang rite, serves to alert the public milling about the temple to the imminent commencement of the rite.

7. Tair Cendrawasih

This kebyar-style dance composition was created in 1987 as a collaborative effort between two of Bali's leading contemporary gamelan performers and composers, I Nyoman Windha and I Wayan Berata. Cendrawasih means 'Bird of Paradise' and the dance, which depicts the atmosphere surrounding the courtship display of a mating pair of such birds, is realized onstage by two female dancers, the larger and stronger of whom represents the male bird.

8. Hujan Mas

Created in 1957 by the late celebrated musician and composer, I Wayan Gandra, Hujan Mas achieved immediate acclaim as a work of great ingenuity and appeal at its debut performance, given in the same year before then-Presiden Sukarno at his Bali residence in Tampaksiring, and has enjoyed continued popularity throughout southern Bali to the present day.
Hujan Mas (Golden Rain) is a programmatic work in kebyar style which translates the changing moods of a tropical thunderstorm into a teeming 'rain' of dazzling melodic and rhythmic effects issuing from the 'golden' (bronze) keys and gongs of the gamelan.

Sekaa Gong Tirta Sinar wishes to thank The Australia Museum (Sydney) for the use of its gamelan gong kebyar for rehearsals and performances. Contact Gary Watson at

Photos © 2004 Patricia Baillie

Back to the Calendar of Events 2004

Past Events
The Musicians
The Venue
The Instruments