Saturday, April 02, 2005

A Gamelan Experience

A Gamelan Experience

The distinctive sounds from the gamelan drums got my utmost attention. It was something I had heard before. A sound only produced by the gamelan drums. Last night I went and watched Monkey Business, a show on gamelan music at the Actors Studio, Bangsar. It was a brilliant show, with acts all put together with the gamelan. Loads of issues can be raised in gamelan, such as homosexuality, isolation and freedom. Some of the scenes in Monkey Business were quite disturbing yet some superb.

A gamelan is an ensemble normally composed primarily of percussions. It is comprised of an orchestra of tuned gongs, bronze kettles, bronze metallophones, bamboo xylophones, drums, cymbals and flutes that fill the night air with animated music. Melodic parts interlock, divided in such a way that musicians play alternate notes to form the melody line. These interlocking parts, known as kotèkan, require cooperation and a keen sense of rhythm to perform. The two parts of a kotèkan, which are thought of as male and female, are known as "nyangsih" and "polos". The main accents of the nyangsih part are usually on the offbeat, while the main accents of the polos part are usually on the beat.

Gamelan is truly an experience. You must hear it, to know it. It has such a distinctive sound, that you would not mistake it for any other instrument. No other drum produces such a sound. It is music that moves the soul easily and alters the mood. I certainly enjoyed Monkey Business and hope to go for another Gamelan performance just like this. Monkey Business, directed by Krishen Jit was not just the traditional sounds of Gamelan but a few new experiments with the chinese drums and different styles of playing the Gamelan. Double trouble, double the fun!

Have you ever heard Gamelan? Start surfing the net for audio clips. Maybe you would be able to enjoy the tunes too... Go all out for a gamelan experience!