Island of Bali (Periplus Classics Series) by Adrian Vickers Miguel Covarrubias

Island of Bali (Periplus Classics Series) by Adrian Vickers Miguel Covarrubias

Author:Adrian Vickers Miguel Covarrubias [Covarrubias, Adrian Vickers Miguel]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780794605629
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Published: 2015-05-26T05:00:00+00:00

Often the group was visited by the leaders of famous orchestras from other villages who were invited as guests of the community to teach new compositions. The leaders of the gong Ringdikit from North Bali came to Belaluan to exchange pieces: while they taught the dynamic and revolutionary style of the North, they learned the classical pieces of the South. The musicians of Belaluan, on the other hand, went to other villages to break in new organizations and were always lavishly entertained. Once in our village we witnessed a contest between two famous gongs; the rival orchestras were installed at either end of a large shed specially built for the occasion. A great crowd surrounded them. In the middle sat an impressive jury made up of the local princes and Pungawas. The orchestras in turn played their best compositions while the audience remained silent. At the end the jurors went into deliberation and awarded the decision to the rival gamelan, who had come all the way from the district of Tabanan.

Despite the fact that there is no trace of Occidental influence in the music of Bali, even those who hear it for the first time are carried away by it. Musicians who have gone to Bali have become ardent admirers of Balinese music. Walter Spies was the first to take an interest in it and to write transcriptions, Leopold Stokowski wanted to bring a Balinese orchestra to America, and Colin McPhee has spent years in Bali compiling material and writing down the music. However, the laws of Balinese music are different from those of the West. There is in Balinese music a unified range of sonorities tending towards one sound; with the exception of certain bamboo xylophones, an incidental bamboo flute, or a two-string violin, all of the instruments are metals struck with mallets; there is a general tone-color of metallic percussions—tinkling, acid sonorities that can be clashing and violent or soft and delicate, but are never sweet and plaintive. Their musical phraseology is simpler, more confined within a margin of sobriety, than our expansive and unrestrained music.

The Balinese have developed their music to the point of having a special type of orchestra for every purpose, each differing from the others in sonority, in the instruments composing it, in the pieces played, and even in scale. (The Balinese scale, with certain exceptions, consists of five notes, named from low to high: ding, dong, deng, dung, dang, corresponding to our e, f, g, b, c.) The “concert” orchestra is entirely different from the one used for feasts, cremations, and processions. The same holds true for the music employed for the various styles of plays and dances; the orchestra for marionette shadow-plays is radically different from the one used for the dances of young girls, which is again different from that used for heroic plays. The general tone of Balinese music does not produce the nervous shock on Westerners such as the more “Oriental” Chinese or Indian music does. Balinese music is


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