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Gender Barung from the Javanese Gamelan Kyai Rengga Manis Everist

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Gender Barung

Side view

NMM 9859. Gender Barung in Laras Slendro. Fourteen bronze bars suspended by a cord over sheet iron resonating tubes in a teakwood frame. Decorated with flower and leaf pattern covered with gold leaf. Feet decorated with a single leaf pattern covered with gold leaf. Length: 116.3 cm. Two small mallets (tabuh) with handles and disc-shaped heads with ring-shaped, red-cloth padding.

Function:  The gender barung is one of the most important and, at the same time, one of the most difficult instruments to play in the Javanese gamelan. Its role is to fill in the basic melody with more elaborate and ornamental parts, but, it may also serve as a leader in playing the buka (introductory phrase) to a piece of music and signaling transitions to different melodic sections in a song. The gender barung player must pay close attention to the rebab. The relationship between the rebab and the gender barung is complex: it both follows and leads the rebab in articulating the movement of the melody. There are many styles of playing the gender barung depending upon the region and the individual player. The rhythmic relationship of the gender barung to the basic melody (balungan), played by the saron barung, saron demung, and slenthem, varies from 8 beats per 4-beat measure (gatra) of the basic melody, to 16, to 32, to 64, and so on. These different rhythmic relationships (irama) are accompanied by a slowing of the tempo of the basic melody. For example, when the gender barung plays 16 beats for every four beats of the basic melody, the tempo of the basic melody is twice as slow as when the gender plays 8 beats for every four of the basic melody.

Playing technique:  The gender barung is played with both hands, holding the thin end of the mallet and striking the keys with the padded end. The right and left hands play different notes and rhythms. The previous note is dampened after the next note is played. The left hand dampens the note by using the padding of the hand below the small finger, while the right hand dampens using the thumb and small finger.

Carved Panel and Resonating Tubes

Carved panel

Click on any section of the carved panel above to see an enlargement of that section. Resonating tubes can be seen behind panel.

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Go to Checklist of Musical Instruments from Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan

Go to The Manufacture and Ceremonial History of the Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan

Go to The Arrival of the Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan in Vermillion, July 15, 2000

Go to The Naming Ceremony for the Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan, April 26, 2003

Go to Glossary of Terms Relating to the Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan

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Most recent update:   April 3, 2014

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