Upper III Gamelan Workshop

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Over the course of this week, Upper III have been taking part in a pentatonic Indonesian music style (called Gamelan) workshop. We have been learning about it in music lessons for the past term but it was really amazing to be able to play the wide variety of traditional instruments there. These instruments ranged from sarons, which are iron and bronze metallophones that come in all different shapes and sizes, to gongs that are so low that you can barely hear them. 

After an explanation on how to respect the instruments the traditional way and after going over what they were all called, we each got assigned an instrument. We then worked out the core melody before playing it altogether as a group. After a few tries and a lot of laughing and accidentally playing it wrong, we finally got it to play it all in time and all the right notes, making it sound really good.

Little did we know that this was the easy part! We then all moved to different instruments and had to figure out the notes, which were in different places than they had been before. Once we had all adjusted to the feel of our new positions, it was time to change the notes up a bit. For some instruments such as the gong, the kenong (which is an instrument made up of 5 large iron pots) and the larger sarons, this meant only playing a few notes of the tune, for example every second note. Unfortunately, some other players weren’t so lucky.  The smaller and higher sarons had to play the tune but with each note twice and double speed.

The bonang players too, were in for a hard time; because their instruments aren’t as tuned up as some of the others, they tend to play more the rhythm than the tune, which definitely seems to be harder!

Once we had all mastered our parts and were playing them to the best of our abilities, the piece ended up sounding really good. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that we all thoroughly enjoyed it and thought that it was an amazing experience.

Amelia and Honor, Upper III

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