<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
For the Westerner with some knowledge of Western music theory, but none of Balinese gamelan, an introduction to the basic elements of the music, with some suggestions for informed listening.


The musical traditions of Indonesia have developed over hundreds of years, in relative isolation from the rest of the world. Aesthetic preferences and performance practices are quite different, not only from Western music , but also from the other major music traditions of Asia (such as Chinese and Indian). A basic understanding of some of these musical preferences - which include major differences in tuning , scales , form , texture , and ensemble techniques - allows Westerners to better appreciate the gamelan music of Bali. The gamelan of Java are a distinct but closely related tradition (it is likely that the tradition originally spread to Bali from Java), so some but not all of the following will also be true of the Javanese tradition.

The following discussion assumes a basic knowledge of Western music theory. An introduction for a more general audience, including information on instruments, ensembles, and historical and cultural influences, can be found at Balinese Gamelan . Related classroom activities can be found at Form in Gamelan Music , Gamelan-Style Melodic Elaboration , Coordinating Music and Dance , and Kotekan .

Basic elements


There are two different scale systems used in Balinese gamelan : slendro and pelog . It is important to note that these are not scales with specific pitches, or even categories of scales (such as major or minor ) that have specific interval relationships. There is no specific norm for either type of scale; instead, each is a system of guidelines for intervals within an octave ; instrument-makers are free to interpret the guidelines as they wish, as long as the scale is consistent within a gamelan .

The slendro system uses five notes within each octave that are of roughly equal distance from each other. A very rough approximation of a slendro scale might be the Western notes A C D E and G (a pentatonic scale fairly familiar to Westerners), with the C, D and G tuned noticeably lower than equal temperament , so that the major second intervals and minor third intervals are more (but probably not exactly) equal.

The pelog system uses seven notes within an octave, with unequal intervals between them. The tuning tends to be close to that of the Western phrygian mode (E to E on the white keys of a piano). Some types of gamelan have all seven pelog notes available, but these usually do not use all seven pitches in one composition. Most commonly, groups of pitches are used as modes (for example, only pitches 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, or only 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 of that approximate-phrygian scale). Some gamelan only have one pelog mode available.

For rehearsal purposes, the notes of a scale may simply be numbered 1-5 or 1-7. When discussing theory, the five notes of a slendro or pelog mode are more likely to be named as dong , deng , dung , dang , and ding .


The tuning tradition in Indonesia is so different from that of Western tuning, that a gamelan may sound at first to a Westerner as if it is "out of tune", or as if the tuning is very sloppy, but neither is true.

Questions & Answers

so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
the Beer law works very well for dilute solutions but fails for very high concentrations. why?
bamidele Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
Privacy Information Security Software Version 1.1a
Got questions? Join the online conversation and get instant answers!
QuizOver.com Reply

Get the best Algebra and trigonometry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Musical travels for children. OpenStax CNX. Jan 06, 2010 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10221/1.11
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Musical travels for children' conversation and receive update notifications?