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Court Art and Culture

Some of the instruments included in a gamelan orchestra
Some of the instruments included in a gamelan orchestra

Art and culture have an important role which distinguished the value of the Kingdom in java. The essential presence of Kingdom/Sultanate in java is regarded as a center of civilization. Here is an example of cultural art in the Palace, which is representing the art of gamelan orchestra.

A set of gamelan consist of several instruments, namely: kendang, boning , boning penerusdemung, saron, pekingkenong and kethuk, slenthem, gender, gong, gambang, rebab, siter, and suling. Here is a little description of gamelan in the Ngayogyakarta Sultanate Palace:

Gamelan is a fusion of various traditional musical instruments which highlights the sound of gambang, gendang, and gong. The term of gamelan refers to the instrument/tool, which constitute an integral whole and played together. The word "gamelan" comes from the Javanese word “game” means hitting/beating, followed by the suffix "an" which makes it as a tool.

Hindu-Buddhist culture gave very strong influences in the creation of gamelan. In Javanese mythology, gamelan was created by Sang Hyang Guru, a god who controls all the land of Java and lives in a palace on the Mount Mahendra in Medangkamulan (known as Mount Lawu, East Java) in the Era of Saka (Saka year). At the first, Sang Hyang Guru created one gong to summon the gods. But for a more specific message then he created two gongs, and gradually it formed a set of gamelan.

In the next development, gamelan uses tuning process for playing it and there are four ways of tuning process, namely sléndro, pélogdegung  (especially in Sunda, or West Java), and madenda (also known as the diatonic, same with the original minor scale used in Europe). Practically, gamelan is used as an accompaniment of traditional dances, puppet show (wayang kulit and wayang orang), kethoprak, and various other art exhibitions.

In the Palace there is a set of complete gamelan musical instruments totaling 18 units, called Gamelan Ageng. This unit consists of a set of pangkon with a tone of sléndro and other pangkon with a tone of pélog. Of the 18 units, 3 of them are old and sacred which called Gamelan Pakumartan, and only used for certain event. This unit consists of Gamelan Sekaten (pélog), Gamelan Monggang (sléndro) and Gamelan Kodhok Ngorek (pélog).

Besides Gamelan Pakurmatan , there are also some other simple set of gamelan, they are Gamelan Gadhon which consists of several types of specific instruments with a tone of slendro or pelog, which consists of kendhang, gong, gender panembung , gender barung, rebab, gambang suling, siter, kethuk, kenong, siter, renteng, and kemodhong. Then there is also Gamelan Cokekan which consists of kendhang, siter, gong, and kemodhong. Gamelan is made out of tin, copper, bronze, brass, and also iron but except in a few musical instruments, such as suling, kendangrebabgambang, and siter.


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