Javanese Gamelan.

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The Gong Ageng, Gong Suwuk, and Kempul

In Javanese gamelan, the gongs are colotomic or punctuating instruments that mark the musical structure of the piece. They do not play constantly, instead they play at regular intervals (along with the kenong, kethuk, and kempyang) to punctuate a piece of music.

The "big" gongs.

Gong Ageng and Gong Suwuk

The gong ageng (the two dark-colored gongs in the photograph) are very important to the gamelan. They mark the end of major divisions called gongan. The big gong is also used when ending most pieces. The gong suwuk are large gongs of definite pitch. In some pieces, they are used to mark different gongan or when there are many gong strokes in rapid successesion (the gong ageng sounds muddy if played often).

The Kempul

The kempul are a set of pitched gongs. These instruments often subdivide a line of gamelan music. There are two racks of gongs because of the two gamelan scales, or laras.

More Javanese gamelan instruments.

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Author: Bern Jordan.
Created: 12 April 2002
Last updated: 12 July 2002
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