Our final week of gamelan was interesting. We finished of Gilak Dung and played the whole piece through, including the introduction and the pengecet. We played most instruments in this, including the jegogan, gongs, trompong, kendang, kantilan and gangs. This piece is very low and of a religious nature, so we focused on putting people on the lower instruments. It was really exciting to see this piece finally come together.
The structure we followed was:
intro ||: lagu | kotekan 1 | kotekan 2 :|| pengecet
I found Gilak Dung really easy to remember week to week and I find that the melody is very easy to recall — the second kotekan was a little more difficult to remember, but this week it came back to me pretty easily. The Bapang Tembung however I’ve always found pretty difficult to recall, the melody stayed in my head a bit more this week, but overall this piece I found much harder. We spend the majority of time this piece re-learning the notes of the kotekan and second lagu, and then learning the pengecat (which was essentially a condensed version of the second lagu and kotekan). Because this piece is used played in a Royal Court we played it on the higher instruments (lighter, more delicate music is considered more luxurious), switching out the trompong for the reong, and the jegogan for the calung.
This week we were also given info sheets - they didn’t have much new info on them, but it was nice to see things written down and to have a reference for words and terms I couldn’t quite remember, and to have more specific terms for instruments and different types of kotekan, and the name of the Bapang Tembung which I kept forgetting!
This unit has mostly made me reflect on the effectiveness of teaching without sheet music, and I've been implementing this in my choral teaching. In ensembles, listening and copying may result in a slightly longer learning period, but I think it also creates less room for error once learned. Performers already have the music memorised allowing for more communication with the conductor during performance, and also since the conductor can communicate more effectively during the learning period, these intricacies are already in place.
I've really enjoyed learning these different techniques and elements of such an unfamiliar type of music, and I look forwards to playing more Gamelan in the future!
Once we went through it a few times, I felt much more comfortable with the fandango dance. I messed up the direction a few times in the beginning, but I feel much more comfortable with it now. I also finally understood the starting point and the change from duple time to triple. I think doing a little more practice at home will also make me feel a bit more comfortable.
I still didn’t feel great about the minuet — we had to do this step while spiralling into a whirlpool, and the tightness of the space made this really it really hard to get the step right as I was trying not to run into people. However, I had a little practice at home in my living room and felt a lot better. I also found it much easier without shoes on which was interesting.
I'm really excited to be working on the Bridesmaid 2 part this week, I've sung with Erina before and it'll be really nice to prepare this little duet with her. I've found myself singing more Soprano 2 parts lately, and while I usually hate it, I'm starting to enjoy the challenge and the strength in the lower parts of my voice -- its been nice to become more acquainted with them.