Javanese Gamelan.

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Glossary

Balungan
"Skeleton"; the melodic framework of a piece; melody.
Buka
A solo introduction often played by bonang barung, rebab, or gènder.
Gatra, gåtrå
Basic metric unit of a gamelan piece--usually four notes long. Similar to a measure in Western music.
Gongan
A section of a piece between subsequent gong strokes. Generally the largest colotomic division of a piece. Also see kenongan
Imbal
An interlocking playing style or pattern played between two similar instruments. Most frequently, imbal is played between two bonang although other instruments can play imbal also. See also sekaran.
Irama
Irama levels refer to the musical subdivision of the balungan or the density of the music. One might also think that this refers to the tempo, or speed, of the piece, but irama refers to the subdivision level that happen at a particular tempo (e.g. one can play a fast irama II or a slow irama I, which may have similar tempos). Irama levels can be:
Kenongan
A section of a piece between subsequent kenong strokes. In many pieces, a number of kenongan make up a gongan.
Laras
Tuning system; scale, either pélog or sléndro. Literally "harmony". See a description of the Javanese scales.
Pathet
Literally "to restrain." Modes (like major and minor in Western music or church modes during the Middle Ages); hierarchical use of tones within a scale or laras.
  • Sléndro nem
  • Sléndro sångå
  • Sléndro manyurå
  • Pélog nem
  • Pélog limå
  • Pélog barang
Sekaran
"Flower" pattern; somewhat improvisatory patterns that are ornaments or embellishments for the music. Bonang frequently alternate between sekaran and imbal in certain pieces.
Suwuk
The ending of a piece.

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Author: Bern Jordan.
Created: 25 May 2002
Last updated: 28 May 2002
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