In mediaeval Bali (circa 1600-1906) gamelan semara pagulingan (also known as semar pegulingan) was an important part of the Balinese courts. Accompanying court rituals and pendet dances at temple ceremonies, semara pagulingan also served to lull the royal family to sleep when it played in the late evenings in the inner sanctum of the palace. Semara pagulingan have 5, 6 or 7 tones, with 5-tone orchestras being the most common. In their 5- and 6-tone forms, there are very few semara pagulingan sets left in Bali from the court era.
This orchestra is used primarily for instrumental pieces, as the dance repertoire is long since forgotten. The orchestra at Mekar Bhuana is antique and complete; in fact, it is the largest semara pagulingan set in the world. The set includes four saron jongkok, a gentorag bell-tree, four gumanak tubular bells, four kangsi cymbals and a ponggang–all features of court gamelan. Our group studies the Pagan Kelod, Kamasan, Gerenceng, Titih and Kaliungu Kelod repertoire.
Over the past 17 years, we have succeeded in reconstructing many long and extinct court pieces, as well as some of the original court dances which were once accompanied by this delicate court orchestra.
Watch videos of our semara pagulingan on our YouTube channel.