Updated: Mar 13
Things are picking up! With 2 assignments due next week (including a group performance project) I've been getting busier and a little more frantic -- I think its time to get organised and start getting things done.
I'm finding these blog posts really useful for reflecting and keeping myself from going into autopilot as I usually do when things get stressful. I'm actually engaging more with my coursework at the moment, and thinking more deeply about how I can incorporate it into my teaching.
Gamelan | VSAO3601 | CDIME
I was really worried when I saw the Gamelan class pop up on my timetable at the start of the semester - I work Saturdays and thought I'd struggle to keep up with work and rest if I didn't have my full weekend from Sunday-Monday, but I am really enjoying these Gamelan classes and couldn't think of a better way to start my week. Coming into the room with no expectations other than watching, copying and playing is really relaxing, and I was surprised this week by how much of the Gilak Dung I remembered. There were definitely parts of the sangsih I had forgotten, but most of the lagu and pokok I remembered. This really demonstrated to me the value of learning music without notation and I've tried to implement this with my choir, teaching them songs without sheet music. What I've struggled with in this kind of pedagogy is that the memorisation in gamelan is really supported by the clergy defined structure of the piece, while the piece I chose to use doesn't necessarily have that clear of a structure, so my students, while having learned the musical material easily, are struggling to know which order to put it in. But, its a great lesson to have learned and I look forwards to using this pedagogy again, maybe with a more structured piece.
I was very excited to play the Trompong this week, one of the larger instruments in the ensemble. It's made of 10 gongs and tuned to a different scale than the higher instruments and played with a different pungal, wrapped in twine. The sound dampened and doesn't ring as much as the other instruments, and only plays the lagu, while the higher instruments move onto the kotekan. I found the dampening technique really difficult, especially since I had to use the pungal to dampen each note, rather than my hand. I did very much enjoy the experience though.
We performed the Gilak Dung as a class and then learned the second Kotekan. It took me a little longer to get the polos this time because it had a few more jumps in it, but it was very repetitive and played on the beat instead of off beat which really helped.
I was very interested to learn about the different types of Kotekan as well. In Gilak Dung (the first Kotekan), the polos and sangsih occasionally play at the same time to create a chord, while in the second Kotekan, the two parts never play at the same times, and the alternating parts create a melody together. This was really interesting for me, and I loved hearing how the two different groups could play together to create one line.
This video is the second Kotekan (I'm playing the polos) and the sangsih is audible in the background.
We finished off the lesson learning a second piece, which I have to admit I don't remember much of!