Gamelan Semara Winangun

Balinese Gamelan in Ottawa, Canada

The birth of Balinese style gamelan took place in the first half of the twentieth century; much of our repertoire comes from that period. Many of our compositions were penned by I Wayan Lotring one of Bali’s most famous musicians. Lotring actually has a Canadian connection – he helped Canadian composer Colin McPhee with his studies of Balinese music in the 1930s.

The list below is not our full repertoire but is representative of the types of pieces we play. The recordings come from a session in early 2008.

Bapang Selesir – This is a short piece that can be played as a stand-alone piece of
music, or as an introduction (or prelude) to another. It was adapted from the “Gambuh” repertoire (an older form of gamelan where bamboo flutes are used in place of metallophones).

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Kompyang – Kompyang was composed by I Wayan Lotring. This piece demonstrates some of Lotring’s favorite compositional devices: lyrical unison passages, rhythmically convoluted (but somehow logical) transitions, and a beautiful kotekan (the faster interlocking parts of the music) to name a few.

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Gegenggongan – This is another Lotring composition. Lotring would often base a musical work on ideas or techniques found in the many other types of gamelan. This piece is based on the “genggong” ensemble, a gamelan in which jaw-harps are used in place of metallophones. We’ve taken and arranged this piece from the “Roots of Gamelan, Bali 1928” recording.

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Gambangan – This is one of the most well-known pieces composed by Lotring. The title alludes to the fact that the principal melody of this piece incorporates a theme from the repertoire of the “gamelan gambang” (a rare form of ceremonial gamelan), as well as the complex interlocking parts played on the gangas (metallophones), which mimic similar figurations of the gambang ensemble.

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Tabu Bangli – More recent than much of our repertoire, this piece was written in 2007 especially for Semara Winangun by I Nyoman Danu, accomplished musician/artist from Pengosekan, Bali. This was composed after a lovely day spent visiting the beautiful temples of Pura Kahen in Bangli, Bali, with lyrics inspired from an Arja play (a form of Balinese drama). The piece was originally composed for anklung tuning (a different type of gamelan); this is an arrangement for our Pelegongan/Semar Pegulingan tuning.

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Tabuh Pisan – This piece is generally used as an instrumental prelude to the Barong dance
( a mythical lion-type figure). Tabuh Pisan also functions as a fine
stand-alone piece, demonstrating several different kotekans, abrupt as well
as nuanced tempo shifts, and a marvelous balance of tension and release. A
cornerstone of the the Teges repertoire.

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Pelayon Barong – This is a beautiful piece taught to us by master musician I Wayan
Lantir of Teges Kanginan, Bali. After a brief “ugal” introduction, the first part of the piece patiently unfolds, with varying dynamics, over several repetitions until accelerating into the energetic final section, and balanced by a gentle coda.

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