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    Address: Jl. Gandapura III, no. 501X
    Kesiman Kertalangu
    Denpasar
    Bali - Indonesia
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    What is the difference between ‘ngayah’ and ‘ngo’opin’?

    April 11th, 2010

    If you live in Bali I’m sure you’ll already know that a Balinese life is full of ceremonies that seem to take place nearly every day of the year. Read the rest of this entry »

    Nyepi – What is it all about?

    March 17th, 2010

    Nyepi is an auspicious day that marks the beginning of the Hindu Balinese New Year, according to the traditional saka calendar. Read the rest of this entry »

    What are ogoh-ogoh?

    March 14th, 2010

    About a month before Balinese New Year (Nyepi), the banjar youth group get together and plan the construction of ogoh-ogoh. Read the rest of this entry »

    Kuta Pelegongan Maestro & Mekar Bhuana Guru Passes Away

    March 6th, 2010

    Pelegongan and gender wayang maestro, I Wayan Kelo from Br Pande Mas, Kuta, died on Thursday afternoon at age 70 after suffering a stroke and battling briefly with leukaemia. Read the rest of this entry »

    What is Banyupinaruh?

    February 27th, 2010

    The day after Saraswati is called Banyupinaruh, which always falls on a Sunday and the first Pawukon week, Dasa Sinta. Read the rest of this entry »

    What is Saraswati day all about?

    February 27th, 2010

    The holy day of Saraswati is named after the Hindu goddess of knowledge, learning and wisdom, Dewi Saraswati. Hindu philosophers view wisdom as something beautiful and attractive, therefore feminine. Read the rest of this entry »

    Mekar Bhuana visits Selonding Expert in Karangasem

    February 9th, 2010

    On Sunday, we (Vaughan, Sudama, Sadera and Suwida) took a trip to Karangasem. Our mission was to meet Srimpu Tusan from Bebandem to learn more about Yayasan Selonding and his magnus opus Selonding – Tinjauan Gamelan Bali Kuna Abad X – XIV. Read the rest of this entry »

    Reconstruction of Semambang Jawa

    February 6th, 2010

    Our semar pegulingan group is currently reconstructing one of the longest semar pegulingan pieces known: Semambang Jawa. Now extinct in the village where this version originates (Pagan Kelod), the piece was recorded on cassette tape by Professor Pande Made Sukerta in 1977. A big “matursuksma” goes out to Professor Sukerta for providing us access to this recording. We hope that, once the Pagan Kelod musicians who are members of Mekar Bhuana have learnt this piece, they will pass their knowledge on to their village where the music can be brought to life once more.

    Semambang Jawa reveals modulation in and out of three modes: lebeng, selisir and sunaren, which makes it fascinating to both play and listen to. It is also very long and a real challenge to memorise, consisting of two 256-beat pengawak and two 64-beat pengecet. One of the musicians claimed that it could take two years just to remember the pengawak sections, which are are the equivalent four pengawak legong. It is probably the length of these compositions as well as their meditative-like tempo that contributed to their decline in popularity as Bali edged towards modernism and “everything fast and instant”.

    Once the reconstruction is complete and funding is secured, our group plans to record this piece as well as several others for a second Mekar Bhuana court music album. Then this music will be documented and accessible to future generations to appreciate and study. Please give us all the support you can!

    What is Gender Wayang? (Part II)

    February 6th, 2010

    As I mentioned previously, gender wayang are the original instruments used to accompany puppet shows in Bali. This is where they got their name about one thousand years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

    What is Gender Wayang?

    February 6th, 2010

    If you’ve ever been to a wedding, cremation, tooth filing, or seen a puppet show in Bali, then chances are you would have heard gender wayang. Read the rest of this entry »

    What do the Tumpek days mean?

    February 6th, 2010

    Tumpek are auspicious days on the Balinese calendar. There are six Tumpek which are spread over a 210 day cycle called pawukon.Tumpek days signify the meeting of a Saniscara weekday (Saturday) and Keliwon day. Read the rest of this entry »

    Ubud Recital Great Success

    December 28th, 2009

    Our semar pegulingan troupe played to a good sized crowd at the opening of a painting and photographic exhibition at The Mansion last week. Even though dark skies loomed, the rain held off and the performance of eight court pieces were extremely well received. Mekar Bhuana founders, Vaughan and Evie were happy to get positive feedback directly from prominent Balinese including the Vice-governor, the Regent of Gianyar, Cokorda Ubud and Cokorda Peliatan. Hopefully we will be able to generate more support from the Balinese and Indonesian governments for our cultural heritage preservation efforts.

    At this event we took the opportunity to perform Tabuh Blandongan, a twenty-minute piece that consists of four long sections (pengawak) and five shorter sections (pengecet). Our terompong player for this piece was only fifteen, and is probably the youngest person who has ever learned and performed this difficult court piece from Pagan Kelod (originally Puri Denpasar style). Three audio samples are on our Audio page.

    What is Selonding?

    December 21st, 2009

    Selonding is classified as an archaic type of Balinese gamelan orchestra dating as far back as the 10th century. Read the rest of this entry »

    Mekar Bhuana Showcases Semar Pegulingan Court Music in Ubud this December

    December 9th, 2009

    Don’t miss our performance of rare Balinese court music on December 22nd at The Mansion, Sayan, Ubud. Our semar pegulingan troupe will present seven-tone repertoire from Kamasan, Klungkung (Puri Klungkung) and Pagan Kelod, Denpasar (Puri Denpasar). We will perform three Kamasan pieces and five Pagan Kelod pieces, including recently learnt Blandongan. Blandongan is one of the most difficult pieces in the Pagan Kelod repertoire because of its length and since it features modulation in and out of three scales.

    The musical recital will accompany a wonderful, multi-faceted art exhibition, featuring Kamasan style painting by maestros Mangku Mura and Mangku Ni Mura Nengah Muriati, and two young artists, Krina Flower and Casimiro Valentim.

    Exhibition opens at 6.30pm and recital starts at 7pm.

    What is a Suling?

    December 7th, 2009

    Suling is the Balinese word for seruling, which means ‘flute’. Made from bamboo, Balinese flutes are always end blown and vary in size. Read the rest of this entry »

    What is a Rebab?

    November 19th, 2009

    Thought to have originated in Persia and perhaps arrived in Indonesia due to trading with India, the Balinese rebab is categorised as a “bowed spiked fiddle”. Read the rest of this entry »

    News – Addendum to Press Release about Performance at Puputan Badung: Reconstruction of Recording from 1928

    October 3rd, 2009

    We would like to amend our earlier press release and mention that Mekar Bhuana wishes to acknowledge the generosity of Arbiter Records(www.arbiterrecords.com) and Edward Herbst for providing us with their newly restored audio versions of the 1928 Beka 78 r.p.m. records. These original Titih recordings will be released by Arbiter in 2010 on their Bali 1928: CD#3, but they were given to us prior to this release date to aid our music reconstruction project. The quality of these newly mastered recordings is enabling us to hear the individual instrumental parts more clearly than has been previously possible. It is wonderful that such kind people support the reconstruction of near-lost Balinese music, and I’m sure the current generation of Balinese, especially the people from Banjar Titih, will be delighted to hear this music once more. We hope that more recordings such as these will become available to the Balinese as times goes on.

    On October 8 (tomorrow), Mekar Bhuana will perform at Maha Bandana (“to create something impressive”) – a three-day event at Puputan Square in Denpasar to elevate the value of Denpasar heritage and culture, whilst remembering the battles with the Dutch in 1906 that ended in mass suicide on the part of the Balinese kingdoms, called “Puputan”. As the main instrumental performance before the processions in the late afternoon, our semar pegulingan troupe will present two different original styles from Denpasar: Banjar Pagan Kelod and Banjar Titih. Upon receiving the invitation to perform, the musicians from Mekar Bhuana have reconstructed the oldest recording of semar pegulingan known (also the oldest Balinese gamelan recording known). The piece chosen was Tabuh Ginanti, played by the group from Banjar Titih, a banjar in Jl Sumatra, Denpasar. Sadly, in 1928, with the explosion of the kebyar style from the north, this gamelan set was melted in 1952. The vintage record that this recording is taken from is the compilation of Balinese music that inspired Colin McPhee to travel to Bali to study about Balinese gamelan. He was particularly taken by the scale of the semar pegulingan from Titih, commenting: “It is a scale of indescribably tonal beauty, remarkable for the unusual minor third occurring between deng and dung and the resulting near major second found between dung and dang.”

    Our group first notated the piece and constantly referred to the crackly recording for the gangsa configurations (nguncang, in Balinese) and to work out the kendang patterns (the hardest part, because they are the most difficult to hear). Practice is coming along well now and we are confident that we will have the piece ready for tomorrow.

    So, now after almost 60 years, the Titih semar pegulingan style will be heard once more. This reconstruction effort demonstrates the importance of recording to preserve traditional music the world over. Without such recordings (I’m sure that there are many more that are sitting in basements and attics across the world!), beautiful music like this would be lost forever.

    A big thanks goes out to Denpasar City Cultural Department for giving us this opportunity to expose this rare music to the Balinese general public – hopefully the lyrical art-form of semar pegulingan will someday experience the popularity that it deserves!

    If you are in Bali on October 8th, get down to Puputan Square at around 5.00pm. We will perform for just 30 minutes and also accompany the dance of the king and Sidakarya masked dance. See you there!

    Are there many types of gamelan in Bali? Which ones are the most common?

    August 19th, 2009

    Unbeknownst to many, there are in fact more than forty different types of gamelan in Bali. Read the rest of this entry »

    What is Joged?

    August 17th, 2009

    Joged is a secular social dance which originated from an ancient danced called gandrung. Read the rest of this entry »

    Nyepi – What is it all about?

    August 14th, 2009

    Nyepi is an auspicious day that marks the beginning of the Hindu Balinese New Year, according to the traditional saka calendar. Read the rest of this entry »

    At ceremonies, why do gamelan orchestras often play at the same time?

    July 17th, 2009

    I am often engaged as a cultural attaché to accompany tourists to temple ceremonies in Bali, and naturally they always ask me a lot of questions. Read the rest of this entry »

    Mekar Bhuana Conservatory Performances in Singapore Rave Success

    July 14th, 2009

    Mekar Bhuana’s four-day tour to Singapore with performances at the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay was a resounding success. Read the rest of this entry »

    What is Gamelan Gambang?

    July 12th, 2009

    At this year’s Bali Arts Festival (PKB), there are a number of performances by a rare type of Balinese gamelan orchestra called gambang. Read the rest of this entry »

    Mekar Bhuana Presents Conservatory Concept to Bali Creative Community

    July 2nd, 2009

    Dari Komunitas Kreatif Bali (http://komunitaskreatifbali.wordpress.com) Acara Obral Rabu Malam, Denpasar July 1, 2009 – Ternyata bukan hal sederhana macam berjumpa dan mendengar sharing dari tetamu saja yang di dapat dari OBRAL alias Obrolan Rabu Malam ini. Read the rest of this entry »

    Seminar Abstract for Buleleng Conference, July 30 – August 2, 2009

    June 29th, 2009

    Preservation of Rare Balinese Gamelan: a South Bali Model for the North?

    Vaughan Hatch

    Whilst studying gamelan on a scholarship in Bali, ethnomusicologist Vaughan Hatch became aware of how many Balinese performing art-forms were either endangered or extinct. Read the rest of this entry »

    What are Ogoh-ogoh and what are they for?

    June 29th, 2009

    Several months before Balinese New Year (Nyepi), the banjar youth group get together and plan the construction of ogoh-ogoh. Read the rest of this entry »

    What is Barong?

    June 23rd, 2009

    It is unclear where the barong originated, however it is generally accepted that a barong is a physical manifestation of a protective spirit which guards people from evil influences. Read the rest of this entry »

    Facing the File for the Bali Smile

    June 17th, 2009

    ‘It’s your turn.’

    Dowsed in holy water and smothered with wafts of pungent incense and coconut husk, I was ready as I’d ever be.

    I approach the bed and await instruction.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Cultural Complacency

    June 12th, 2009

    Many times I’ve thought to myself: What makes Bali such a popular tourist destination? Is it the surf? Is it the shopping? Is it the weather? Is it the nightlife? What is it? What makes Bali different from the rest? Read the rest of this entry »

    World of the Dancing Pixies

    June 10th, 2009

    Being a musician myself, it always impresses me how nearly every ceremony in Bali is accompanied by music. Read the rest of this entry »


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