Jegog - The Balinese bamboo gamelan
March 11, 2008 11:29 PM   Subscribe

Jegog (Suar Agung) the first
Jegog (Suar Agung) the second
Jegog (Suar Agung) the third
Sekaa Jegog Yuskumara - Balinese gamelan music
Sekaa Jegog Yuskumara in the Tropenmuseum

Sekaa Jegog Yuskumara Masterclass 1
Sekaa Jegog Yuskumara Masterclass 2

See also
Jegog is a kind of traditional bamboo music or gamelan from Jembrana Region, West Bali. All of us agree that Jembrana is "The Home of Jegog" which was created by Kiyang Geliduh is Sebual village in 1912. The instruments are 90 percents made from bamboo in various measures and scales. The biggest is 300cm length, 18cm diameter, and 2cm thickness.
Jegog by Suar Agung

See also
On Bali there are 35 different types of gamelans. Some are exceedingly rare creatures: the gamelan gong beri -- composed of bronze gongs, cymbals, a drum and a conch shell, teamed with dancers in Dutch-style uniforms -- is found only in two villages. Others, like the gamelan gong kebyar, are integral parts of every neighborhood, the ''speed metal'' bands of the island, numbering about 4,000 and counting. (Michael Tenzer in his book ''Balinese Music'' estimates that one group, in an almost unbelievable display of percussive virtuosity, played 800 notes per minute, or almost 7 notes per second for each of the 25 players.)

The arts of Bali have from the start been intertwined with the intense religious life of its people. Virtually every ceremony -- and there are countless numbers of them in the Bali-Hindu calendar -- requires some physical display: evanescent offerings to attract the gods and to delight their people. There are special orchestras, music and dance for the celebration of a birth, others for various stages of funerals. In the village of Tenganan, one gamelan with keys made of iron rather than the traditional bronze, bamboo or wood -- a selonding or seven-tone pelog ensemble said to be a gift from the gods -- is so sacred that only copies of it may be played.

''Music and dance are spiritual musts,'' explained Dr. Anak Agung Made Djelantik, a physician-prince from the eastern regency of Karangasem, who lectures on esthetics at the arts college. ''The arts are an invitation for the gods to come down and join the people. There is a very physical contact with the unseen, with the ancestors -- as a medical doctor, I can feel it -- which makes the people in the village very happy. That is why the arts will never go away.''
A Far Island of Cultural Survival

See also I Ketut Suwentra - The Grandfather of Jegog
posted by y2karl (7 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I saw I a jegog orchestra in Bali and once they learned I knew a few patterns, they even let me into one of the large contraptions to play.

The liner notes to their album said that it sounds like the wind in the jungle.... and it does.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:14 AM on March 12, 2008

When I was in grade school in Indonesia, I played a gambang as part of a cultural school presentation for the parents. That was probably the peak of my musical career (sigh).
posted by theiconoclast31 at 1:28 AM on March 12, 2008

Nice stuff. Bamboo has such a pleasingly dry sound, so different from the shimmering overtones and sustain of the metallic gamelan.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:08 AM on March 12, 2008

It does add another dimension. And that it can go so deep in tonal range is quite cool as well.

The Balinese information links above all remark on the fact that Jegog is very popular in Japan and try in their own ways to make sense of it. And, certainly it seems to make sense for all sorts of reasons. But, to quote the Rev. Bruce, I won't go into that here.

And for a fact, I am only familiar because of "Suar Agung" The Bamboo Ensemble of Sangkar Agung Village. From that CD, one could make the argument that at the very least the Japanese know to record Jegog. That disk goes into the cars that go boom bass range.

Another interesting thing is how jegog and kechak, the monkey dance--popularized by Baraka over here--are both artifacts of the 20th century. They seem so ancient and primordial and then you read that kechak turns out to have been commissioned as dance by a German artist who lived in Bali in the 1930s.

And interesting, too, is that description in that A Far Island of Cultural Survival, about Balinese attempts to preserve religious ceremony and its ceremonial music and dance while supplying secular versions of the same for the tourist trade. And yet, on another hand, you have the continual search by collectors for the authentic, as in whether any given artifact was authentically used in a real, actual religious ceremony makes so much difference on its monetary value in a collectors market. Ah, the moral dilemma of the postmodern culture vulture. Ironies and tensions abound.
posted by y2karl at 8:26 AM on March 12, 2008

These links all made my inner ears feel warm and happy.
posted by humannaire at 11:11 AM on March 12, 2008

I haven't time to dig into this yet, but I wanted to say that this is another wonderful post, y2karl. Thanks for putting it together.
posted by sleepy pete at 4:00 PM on March 12, 2008

Another interesting thing is how jegog and kechak, the monkey dance--popularized by Baraka over here--are both artifacts of the 20th century.

That's a very good point, and it's something I've thought about from time to time: it seems a "Western-centric" (for want of a better term) viewpoint, or predisposition of thought, to automatically assume that musical forms from far-flung corners of the world like Bali or the Congo or wherever are always somehow really old. The thought often doesn't seem to occur to people that new forms emerge from these "traditional" societies, or indeed, as in the kecak you mentioned, that these new forms might have even been instigated by people from outside the "traditional" culture.

Another example of this that springs to mind is this whole taiko drum-troupe thing from here in Japan. Sure, Japanese have been hitting drums for a looong time, especially in matsuri (festival) settings, but this taiko group thing, as musical performance, is relatively new. Interestingly, though, many of its practitioners are more than happy to let the foreign audiences go right on thinking that this is all something from the primordial heart of ancient Japan, from the mystical misty Beginnings of Time. Sort of a "tell the Americans it's chicken" sort of thing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:54 PM on March 12, 2008

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