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where to study gamelan (karawitan) ?

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  • where to study gamelan (karawitan) ?


    This is my first time here, hello everybody.
    I am thinking of applying for a scholarship in Indonesia, as I am fascinated by the gamelan (karawitan) music. there is an internationally available programme called Darmasiswa that provides a possibility to study karawitan for 1 year in different schools in Indonesia.
    Since I have no idea what are the pros and cons of these schools and couldn't really find any comparative information on the net, I thought I would ask on this forum.
    there are four schools one can choose from:

    Indonesian Art Institute of Padang Panjang (ISI Padang Panjang)
    College of the Indonesian Art (STSI) Bandung
    Indonesian Art Institute of Yogyakarta (ISI) Yogyakarta
    Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) Denpasar

    I would be really grateful if anyone could advise me which of these would provide the best level of teaching. and also, which of the cities would be the most interesting to stay in.
    looking forward to your advice.

  • #2
    hi albe,
    i think that there are two among four which are prominent and most students enrolled to continue by their studies in art.
    Indonesian Art Institute of Yogyakarta (ISI) Yogyakarta
    Indonesian Art Institute (ISI) Denpasar
    but, well it depends on what gamelan you tend to know, java or bali gamelan

    both cities are interesting to stay in, no worries for it


    • #3
      hi wiwi90
      thanks for the reply. i guess i like both traditions. what about Bandung, I mean as a place to live in for a year?


      • #4
        STSI is in Solo. There are many, many foreigners in Solo who are avid Javanese gamelan students.

        The aesthetic differences between Balinese and Javanese gamelan traditions are profound. If it were me, I'd begin by choosing which one I found most compelling, then​ choosing a school/city.


        • #5
          thanks for the reply.
          I found this school in Solo:

          is there another one called STSI?
          in the Darmasiswa scholarship there is a 1-year programme in the above linked ISI in Solo, that's called "Seni Musik Tradisional".
          is this seni musik something different than gamelan?


          • #6
            "Seni" is not a form of music - it is just the Indonesian word for "art. So all that "Seni Musik Tradisional" means is "Traditional Musical Arts." I don't know for sure, since I'm not affiliated with ISI, but my guess is that they are referring to gamelan and wayang (shadow puppet theatre, of which gamelan music is an integral part).


            • #7
              ok, thanks.


              • #8
                Originally posted by alberigo View Post
                hi wiwi90
                thanks for the reply. i guess i like both traditions. what about Bandung, I mean as a place to live in for a year?
                i think the place to live in is the last thing to consider, but first of all, you have to decide which gamelan do you tend to learn based on your interest, is this balinese or javanese songs


                • #9
                  Hey, STSI Bandung is great! I've been there before with my american friend. He loves gamelan! I also know one of the lecturers who has a sundanese traditional group (consists of gamelan and karawitan). I think gamelan Bali and Gamelan Jawa are 2 different things. Since I'm living in Bandung, I think Bandung is a really great place to stay. The weather is great, the foods are delicious, the people are friendly and you can try some new adventures around the city (I meant it, adventures) on the weekends. I don't know much about gamelan Bali since I'm learning gamelan sunda at my campus with my music group.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Catver View Post
                    I think gamelan Bali and Gamelan Jawa are 2 different things.
                    They are.


                    • #11
                      maybe you need to calculate living cost too. bali is higher. yogya is lower.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Puspawarna View Post
                        They are.
                        Can you tell us more from a musical theory perspective? It certainly sounds different, but is it fundamentally different? Are they fundamentally two different "genres" that appear superficially to be the same or similar because of the identical instrumentation? How have Javan genres like gamelan, kecapi suling, degung been impacted by Islamic influence. I'd like to hear more.


                        • #13
                          I'm not an expert on Balinese gamelan so I can't give a complete answer - but even at very basic levels, the underlying concepts are noticeably different. Balinese gamelan relies on players interlocking their notes to produce a basic pattern; it's the first thing you learn in a beginners' workshop. Although interlocking patterns exist in Javanese gamelan, the usage is restricted and they are of fairly minor significance. You wouldn't even encounter them until you'd made a bit of progress and were moving toward advanced beginner/intermediate learning levels.

                          In my experience, that is the difference that you would notice first if you did a brief introduction to both styles. However, it's not the most important difference by any means. Far more important is the fact that mode (pathet)-based "improvisation" is a core concept in Javanese gamelan playing, but it doesn't even exist in Balinese gamelan. "Improvisation" is a bit of a misnomer, but it's the closest term in English for what people do - essentially, based on the pathet, players of elaborating instruments (voice, suling/flute, rebab/fiddle, siter/zither, gambang/wooden xylophone, gender/bronze xylophone-like instrument suspended over resonating tubes) make choices about what patterns to play from a range of choices. Everyone's patterns are aiming for the same "seleh", or final note, based on the skeletal melody. Ideally the choices made involve interacting with the other performers, choosing something that is allowable within the mode, and other factors like the previous seleh.

                          I can't stress enough how important those patterns/choices/interactions are to Javanese gamelan. The fact they don't even exist in Balinese makes the two forms entirely different aesthetic experiences.

                          An expert could say a lot more about the differences between Balinese and Javanese gamelan, of course. What I know is only the tip of the iceberg.

                          - - -

                          ETA: a commonly repeated aphorism among gamelan aficionados - it's said that Javanese gamelan is easy to start and incredibly difficult to master; whereas Balinese gamelan is difficult to start, but (at least by comparison to the complexities of Javanese gamelan) easy to master.
                          Last edited by Puspawarna; 29-12-12, 13:04.