From 2006 I started to learn and practice Balinese traditional music generally known as Gamelan Music.
I studied first in the Institute of Arts from the capital city of Bali, Denpasar, being granted a scholarship called Darmasiswa, until 2007. After that, I continued to learn with different teachers from Bali but also on my own, researching on internet, reading different books on the subject, watching tons of videos with different types of Gamelan Orchestras from Bali, and of course, practicing.
During the year of 2014 I lived in Bali with my family, where I continued to learn about the Balinese arts and ways of living, being very lucky to be accepted as full member of the Gamelan Group of the village Buahan, in the regency of Payangan, very close to the cultural hub of the Island,Ubud. As a member of the music orchestra of the village, I took part in the different events in which the ensemble was employed, such as temple ceremonies or other social gatherings, in the village or in other locations where the group was invited.
Everytime me and my family went to Bali, we brought back (in our checked baggage) some instruments. We chose light instruments, some made from bamboo and other smaller gongs, drums and cymbals. After several times travelling like this, we were able to put an ensemble together.
This is (in short) the story of how in 2009 we created the group called Jepun Bali, which had several performances in Bucharest.
The name of the group is actually how the Balinese call the flower known as Frangipani or by its scientific term, Plumeria. We gave our group this name, hoping that it will blossom and grow big and beautiful like this plant that we absolutely love. The orchestra was composed of students from the University of Music in Bucharest, and former colleagues of mine. On the last concert that we had together, both the percussion teachers from the University of Music in Bucharest (Mr. Alexandru Matei and Mr. Sorin Rotaru) joined the group, so it was actually a fusion between the Jepun Bali group and the Game Percussion Ensemble of the University of Music from Bucharest. The type of Gamelan that we founded is called Joged Bumbung, and it’s characterized by bamboo instruments, fast and lively music, usually employed in Bali for fun, without the ritual element that most of the other Gamelan types have.
Our orchestra was made mainly of 2 large rindicks, 1 leading kendang, 3 sulings, 1 gong pulu, 1 tawa-tawa, 1 ceng ceng (ricik), 1 klingtit, 1 klentong, and we also added 4 pairs of ceng ceng (kopyak), 2 small kendangs angklung, 2 klingtits and 1 pereret, which could be used depending on the different repertory that we were playing.
Of course that our orchestra would not be complete without the dancers, and this was Dewi’s job, she danced in most of our shows. We even brought the traditional costumes and everybody was happy to wear them.
Since the end of 2013, the Joged Bumbung orchestra that we formed belongs to the University of Music from Bucharest, Romania, following a ceremonial concert that took place on the 26th of November, when the traditional instruments and costumes were received. Since then, Professors Alexandru Matei, Sorin Rotaru and their students had other performances with Balinese music and more.
From the very beginning I taught all the musicians that took part in our Gamelan group how to play this music and the instruments that are a lot different than what we (westerners) are used to play.
Photos from our performances in Romania can be found here.
Between July 2010 and April 2013, I was the leader of the Gamelan Group of the Indonesian Embassy in Bratislava, Slovakia where I taught Slovaks as well as Indonesians. Here, I didn’t only teach Balinese music, because we also played instruments and pieces from Java, Sulawesi and other islands from the Indonesian Archipelago.
Together with the Embassy’s group and the dancers we performed in Slovak cities such as Bratislava, Nitra, Piestany, Kosice, Dubnica nad Vahom, just to name some of them. You can see photos from those performances in the gallery.