Unlike studio recordings, this collection includes all the contextual sounds that signal the perpetuation of angklung and other Balinese music through generations of cultural and political upheaval. Most often gamelan, especially angklung, perform not for an attentive audience but as part of regular Hindu ceremonies.
I witnessed the most striking evidence for this in the unskilled but functional practice in migrant communities in Central Sulawesi. The sekaa, or group, comprised predominantly of Balinese laborers, produced rough sketches of the required repertoire: lelambatan for temple ceremonies, bondres half-mask skit comedy, classic kebyar, and ancient Rejang. Even the dancing was a mere shadow of the high-tension, balletic drama of performances on the island. The arts are essential to these ceremonies, though, so the artists take a day off from the farms and receive some compensation.
And why all the ceremonies? If nothing else, Balinese are a deeply pious people. Exposure to such extremes of geology, weather, and imperialist violence tends to correlate with escalation in faith practice.
A prominent ceremonial sound on some of these tracks is amplified solo singing. These songs belong to the same class of music as angklung for cremation ceremonies, the Pitra Yadnya, and are collected in published volumes of text. Hired singers, both male and female, train in private collectives and use these books as references. When women sing in unison at these same ceremonies the songs are from the same collections but they use no reference, having learned through community practice.
When you hear these contextual sounds, please comment with the following details and I'll update them to this main post:
- Track Number
- Start time
- End time (optional)
- Description of the sound