Gamelan Jaya Sekar

Gamelan Jaya Sekar: Jegog: Live at the Bali Arts Festival

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Artist: Gamelan Jaya Sekar
Title: Jegog: Live at the Bali Arts Festival

Gamelan Sekar Jaya Jegog: Live at the Bali Arts Festival 1. Teruntungan Bebek Putih / 7:14 2. Subak / 9:51 3. Curing Beroh / 17:24 4. C'ret Nong / 6:13 5. Pemiketan Tresna / 10:37 6. Jaran Dauh / 12:16 The Gamelan Jegog Bali is an island blessed with a bewilderingly rich variety of musical ensembles, and the gamelan jegog stands out for it's impressiveness and sheer thundering resonance. The gamelan jegog, comprised of giant bamboo marimbas, originated in Jembrana, West Bali in the early twentieth century. The instruments are tuned to an unusual four-tone scale used by no other form of gamelan in Bali. Sound is produced on the jegog by striking the bamboo tubes, which act as giant resonators. These bamboo tubes range from modest to gigantic-up to ten feet long in the case of the bass jegog, the instrument for which the whole ensemble is named. Part of the energy and power of jegog music derives from the sheer physical strength needed to play the instruments. The size of the bass jegog is so large that two players must squat on a platform above the tubes, often using both hands to wield the heavy rubber mallets. It's resonant boom, which anchors the rest of the orchestra, can be heard for miles across Balinese rice fields. Gamelan jegog remains very much a regional specialty, characteristic of the flavor of the western reaches of the island, with a unique repertoire that has developed it's own complex textures and idiomatic forms of interlocking figuration. There are just a handful of gamelan jegog instruments outside of Jembrana, and music enthusiasts must still head West to seek out expert jegog teachers and instrument makers. The passionate playing and ensemble perfection of the Jembrana groups continue to set an unsurpassable standard. In contrast to the refined, stately traditions of bronze gamelan associated with the Balinese courts, gamelan jegog boasts homegrown performance traditions remarkable for their athleticism and unrestrained exuberance. The jegog accompanies the annual water-buffalo races in Negara, Jembrana's capital city, and is often played along with dances deriving from the Indonesian martial art pencak silat. The most popular and notorious tradition may be the competitive musical battle known as the jegog mebarung. The uninhibited frenzy of the jegog mebarung is anything but a polite trading of compositions. More accurately, it is a contest of endurance, concentration, and group virtuosity in which both orchestras play simultaneously, overlapping each other as furiously as possible until exhaustion forces one side to surrender. For the listener, the result is a mind-bending, pulsating, phase-shifting wall of sound, as unsynchronized tempi and varied tunings collide at high volume. The Roots of Jegog Music in America The history of gamelan jegog within the United States starts with Gamelan Sekar Jaya (GSJ) in 1987. Former GSJ musician Kate Beddall studied with I Wayan Gama Astawa in the West Balinese town of Tegal Cangkring. Unable to transport an ensemble of such massive proportions back to the United States, Beddall did manage to bring home six tingklik -- small, portable versions of the jegog instruments with keys made of bamboo planks rather than tubes, most often used in Jembrana by children or by musicians as practice instruments. The tingklik became a regular part of GSJ's performances until the Fall of 2003 when Mickey Hart (Grateful Dead) donated a partial set of full-sized jegog instruments to the group. Gamelan Sekar Jaya musician Samuel Wantman along with David Hermeyer embarked on the task of restoring the donated instruments and duplicating them to complete the fourteen-piece ensemble-the only one of it's kind in the Western Hemisphere. After finding a temporary home for the instruments at San Francisco's School of the Arts, GSJ's gamelan jegog performers have continued studying with Balinese master artists-both locally with artists who come to the Bay Area via GSJ's artist-in-residence program, and abroad in extended individual trips to Jembrana, Bali. They have performed new works and classic jegog pieces throughout the Bay Area on formal stages, and in festivals, conferences, and benefit concerts. A historic moment in GSJ's jegog ensemble evolution occurred when I Gede Oka Artha Negara joined GSJ artist-in-residency program as a jegog specialist in 2010. Bapak Gede Oka started playing jegog music as a child, and is the son of I Ketut Suwentra, the founder of Suar Agung, one of the most recognized jegog groups within Bali. Bapak Gede Oka's residency with the group allowed the musicians of GSJ to refine their technique, learn new repertoire, understand the emotive subtleties of the music, and prepare for the landmark jegog tour to Bali. An American Jegog Group in Bali In 2010, Gamelan Sekar Jaya's jegog group received an invitation to perform at the illustrious Pesta Kesenian Bali (PKB), or Bali Arts Festival, an annual showcase of art and music. With GSJ's fortuitous connection with Suar Agung, the subsequent logical step for the group was to plan an international tour to Bali. In June of 2010, the musicians and dancers of Gamelan Sekar Jaya convened in the small West Balinese village of Sangkar Agung, home to jegog group Suar Agung. This lovely rural outpost was far from Bali's teeming tourist centers, a place where almost no English was spoken, and a slow and tranquil pace of life prevailed. It was here at Suar Agung's yayasan (music foundation) that the musicians of GSJ would encounter the brutal shock of the physical strength required of jegog musicians in Bali. The group had been forewarned of the physical adjustment of playing on modern-day jegog instruments; Mickey Hart's instruments were older, dating back to an era when musicians sat down to play, while current-day jegog instruments are built on a larger scale, raised so that players stand behind the instruments, swaying with the beat of the music. However, this knowledge failed to prepare the musicians with the intensity, ferocity, and speed that the music required. Combined with the massive size and heavier weight of the instruments and mallets found in Bali, the musicians of GSJ quickly found themselves with badly blistered hands and sore muscles, facing tropical heat which made one single practice cost liters of water in sweat, and monitoring the real danger of fainting from exertion. Meanwhile, GSJ witnessed the mental acuity and unbridled athletic vigor of the musicians of Suar Agung-many of them strapping men and laborers by day who could effortlessly whip through complex figurations at speeds beyond the threshold of collapse, while synchronizing themselves in a nearly telepathic demonstration of the group-mind. As Americans emulating these Balinese musicians who were raised on jegog music, Gamelan Sekar Jaya was humbled and pushed to the limits. A mebarung competition was planned with Suar Agung - were GSJ's musicians crazy? The Balinese themselves were far too encouraging and gracious to ever suggest that a foreigner's imitation might be a pale one. At once demoralized and invigorated, GSJ hoped at least to perform with enough feeling, energy, and collective attunement to show proper respect to Bali's masterful artists. This was the atmosphere in which the Gamelan Sekar Jaya found itself as the musicians and dancers stepped onstage in front of the packed audience at the Bali Arts Festival for the highest-profile show of the group's tour. We humbly offer up the results to your ears here. (Track Listings) Performed live at the Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar, July 8th, 2010 Teruntungan Bebek Putih (Traditional) Most Balinese performing arts originate as devotional intent and are used in ceremonial contexts. In the jegog tradition of West Bali, each group maintains a tertuntungan-style opening piece, intended to summon the gods and audience while "warming up the bamboo." This arrangement comes from the village of Sangkar Agung, famous for it's jego

1.1 Truntungan Bebek Putih
1.2 Subak
1.3 Curing Bero
1.4 C'ret Nong
1.5 Pemikitan Tresna
1.6 Jaran Dauh

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