Tuesday, December 18, 2007

115. Music of the Great Tradition -- 16:Gamelan

Returning to Indonesia, let's listen to an example of some very interesting and unusual vocal hocket, from the island of Flores, near Bali, recorded by Phillip Yampolsky. Listen carefully, as the hocketed voices are somewhat covered by a higher pitched solo voice. This type of singing is organized in a manner quite similar to the hocketed gong ensembles found on the same island, where each person plays a different instrument (also recorded by Yampolsky). Compare with the Ouldeme pipers from the previous post -- or the Mbuti Pygmies for that matter. (Very similar types of pipe and panpipe hocket can be found in Southeast Asia and Melanesia as well -- see posts 41 et seq., below).

Simple gong ensembles, similar to the those of Flores, are quite common in Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Here's a nice video of dancing gongs, from the Igorot, of the Philippines, compliments of YouTube. The Kulintang ensemble, of the Philippine Magindinao people, is a kind of rudimentary gamelan. This YouTube video shows four men hocketing with gongs in a manner quite similar to that of the Flores and Igorot examples, as a man in the center plays the Kulintang proper, a tuned gong set very similar to what would be found in a Javanese or Balinese gamelan.

In this case, the gongs could be understood as a kind of speeded up colotomic layer, analogous to that of the Indonesian gamelan tradition. This video also contains a very interesting demonstration of how these gongs are used to communicate, a practice linking them with the very important slit drum traditions found throughout this region and Oceania generally -- and also, of course, Africa. This type of gong is probably descended from the slit drum. The last part of the video returns to the Kulintang ensemble, allowing us see in some detail how the various parts interlock.

What we see and hear above is especially meaningful, since it gives us a sense of how the colotomic layer of the gamelan may well have originated in this much more rapid type of hocketed gong interlock, which can, in turn be related to both African hocket and kotekan. And indeed there are examples of Indonesian gamelan playing where the colotomic gongs clearly hocket in a manner very similar to that of gong ensembles such as the Kulintang, as is evident in this YouTube clip, from a Balinese Barong ritual, where the colotomic instruments can be heard playing more rapidly than usual, in a manner recalling the ensembles presented above.

1 comment:

alvin said...

"Thanks for this post!
You will also enjoy this: http://kulintangexperience.ph/

kulintang is a native music instrument of the philippines."