Gong Kebyar

The iconic Balinese gamelan orchestra is the Gong Kebyar. Here you will find a description of its instruments. In the recordings you can hear how the music sounds.

In this example, a Gong Kebyar plays the music for the Panyembrahma dance. Try to read the score of this music while listening! 

You may find more Gong Kebyar recordings on the  Gong Kebyar recordings page.

The Gong Kebyar is mostly used for modern compositions and to accompany dances. At temple festivals this orchestra may also playsthe Lelambatan music. This is a stately style of music, originally played by the - now nearly extinct - Gong Gede orchestra. Two registrations of a Gong Gede are on the Videos page. Lelambatan music by a Gong Kebyar are on the Lelambatan page.

Semar Pegulingan

Semar Pegulingan orchestras are often higher in pitch than a Gong Kebyar. This one, the Mudraswara orchestra of Ubud, is a good example. For easy comparison with the Gong Kebyar, they, too, play Panyembrahma.

You may find more Semar Pegulingan recordings on the Semar Pegulingan recordings page.

Gamelan Udegan

Bronze is an expensive material. If a village cannot afford a proper, bronze gamelan, bamboo is a way out. The keys of the instruments are made of bamboo. Even the gong is a large bamboo key over a large earthenware jar which acts as a resonator. The sound of a bamboo key fades fast, however. In order to prolong the sound, keys are struck several times in rapid succession. In this example, the Gamelan Udegan of Teges Kawan plays Sekar Gendot.

You may find more Gamelan Udegan recordings on the Gamelan Udegan recordings page.

Gamelan Selunding

A very old type of orchestra is the Gamelan Selunding, found in the very traditional village of Tenganan, East Bali. This ensemble has no gongs at all and no reong. These functions are taken by instruments that have large iron plates, hung gender-wise over wooden resonating boxes. Kendangs are likewise absent. Here they play Rejang Gucek.

You may find more Gamelan Selunding recordings on the Gamelan Selunding recordings page

Gamelan Angklung

For use in temple ceremonies, there is the Gamelan Angklung. This orchestra has only four tones to the octave and is tuned to the slendro scale (as opposed to Gong and Semar Pegulingan, which are tuned to the pelog scale). In this recording, the musicians from Teges Kanginan play Galang Kangin.

You may find more Gamelan Angklung recordings on the Gamelan Angklung recordings page.

Suling orchestra

All of the above types of orchestra consist mainly of instruments of the gender family (with keys over resonators) and gongs. But Bali also has the Suling orchestra, an ensemble made up almost entirely of flutes. They borrow their melodies from the Gong and Semar Pegulingan repertoire, giving them an entirely different atmosphere. Here the Ubud suling ensemble plays Legod Bawa.

You may find more Suling recordings on the Suling orchestra recordings page.

Genggong orchestra

The Genggong is the Balinese mouth harp. This is a strip of bamboo with a reed cut out. The player places the genggong between his teeth and by pulling sharply on a string, he makes the reed vibrate. By altering the shape of his mouth he can produce different tones. The Ubud suling ensemble now plays Tabuh Telu on genggong. 

Questions? Remarks? Suggestions? Use the contact form!