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Gamelan Gong Kebyar

The Art of Twentieth-Century Balinese Music

The Balinese gamelan, with its shimmering tones, breathless pace, and compelling musical language, has long captivated musicians, composers, artists, and travelers. Here, Michael Tenzer offers a comprehensive and durable study of this sophisticated musical tradition, focusing on the preeminent twentieth-century genre, gamelan gong kebyar.

Combining the tools of the anthropologist, composer, music theorist, and performer, Tenzer moves fluidly between ethnography and technical discussions of musical composition and structure. In an approach as intricate as one might expect in studies of Western classical music, Tenzer’s rigorous application of music theory and analysis to a non-Western orchestral genre is wholly original. Illustrated throughout, the book also includes nearly 100 pages of musical transcription (in Western notation) that correlate with 55 separate tracks compiled on two accompanying compact discs.

The most ambitious work on gamelan since Colin McPhee’s classic Music in Bali, this book will interest musicians of all kinds and anyone interested in the art and culture of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Bali.

520 pages | 27 halftones, 70 musical examples 26 line drawings, 10 tables, 2 CDs | 7 x 10 | © 2000

Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology

Asian Studies: Southeast Asia and Australia

Music: Ethnomusicology

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Foreword by Steve Reich
Notes on Pronunciation, Orthography, and Transcription
Chapter 1. Introduction
Encountering and Learning Kebyar
Composition, Theory, and Ethnomusicology
Part One: Approaches to Kebyar
Chapter 2. Kebyar Orchestral Resources
Kebyar Timbre and the "Outside" of the Sound
Scale (Saih) and Tuning(Laras)
Cosmology, Aesthetics, and a Spatial Model for Scale Tones
A Three-Dimensional Model of Kebyar Pitch Space
Instrument Classification and Textural Strata
Vertical Relationships between and within Strata
Orchestration in Practice
Chapter 3. The Social Construction of Kebyar Ensemble Virtuosity
The Geocultural Roots of Balinese Music
Balinese Collectivity and the Sekaha
The Changing Sekaha I: The Birth of Kebyar
The Changing Sekaha II: Kebyar up to Independence
The Changing Sekaha III: Kebyar after Independence
The Sekaha in the New Order
Changes in the Sekaha Today: One Group’s Narrative
Multidimensionality and Collectivity in Kebyar
Chapter 4. Contexts for Kebyar Theory
Early Balinese Gamelan Scholarship: McPhee’s Contributions
Balinese Gamelan Scholarship: 1940 to the Present
The Recent History of Music Theory in Java and Bali
Javanese Counterparts for Balinese Music Concepts
Issues for Kebyar Music Theory
Analytical Approaches to Kebyar and the Music of the European Classic Period
Elaboration and Style: A Preliminary Analysis

Part Two: Structure in Kebyar
Chapter 5. History, Repertoire, Topic, and Structure
Historical Periods and Gamelan Genres
Scanning the Repertoire
Composition Types and Theatrical Forms
Topic Classes
Analytical Interlude: From Topic Class to Structural Class
Structural Classes
Inside Melodies
Melodic Identity and Melodic "Quality"
Chapter 6. Melody and Figuration
Analytical Conventions and Preliminaries
Analytical Commentary on 4-, 8-, and 16-beat Melodies/Character Topic Sources
Analytical Commentary on 32- and 64-beat Melodies
Analytical Commentary on 128- and 256-beat Melodies/Abstract Topics
Unfixed Pokok Elaboration: Payasan
Fixed Pokok Elaborations I: Noninterlocking Parts
Fixed Pokok Elaborations II: Interlocking Parts
Kotekan Categories and Analytical Preliminaries
Analysis of Symmetrical Kotekan Patterns
Asymmetrical Melody and Elaboration
Kinds of Tua-based Asymmetry in Kebyar
Asymmetry in Tua Compositions
Conclusion: Asymmetry and Vocal Traditions
Chapter 7. Meter and Drumming
Prelude: Kebyar Drummers as Leaders and Stylists
Drum Pattern and Balinese Meter
Drum Styles, the Vocabulary of Drum Strokes, and Their Syntax and Structure
Pattern Identity and Quality
Stable and Active Patterns and the Impact of Drumming on Form
Drumming and Dance Movement
Drum Improvisation and Kendang Tunggal
Chapter 8. Form and Composition
Prelude: Kebyar Composers
Elements, Contexts, and Element-Progressions
The Shape of the Gending: Balinese Categories of Musical Form
Inside Gending Looking Out
Conclusion: Form and Composition
Part Three: Kebyar in Bali and Abroad
Chapter 9. Fantasy on Wilet Mayura
Background and Reception
The Text and Singing
Locating Innovation and Expression
Balinese and Western Temporalities in Context
Wilet Mayura in Cross-Cultural Perspective
Playing in All Registers
Chapter 10. Epilogue: Kebyar and Ideas of New Music
Contents of the CDs
Sources Cited
Index-Glossary of Indonesian and Balinese Terms
General Index


Society for Ethnomusicology: Alan Merriam Award

Amer Soc Composers/Authors/Publishers: Deems Taylor Award

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