Semara Patangian (Pelegongan)
Originally known as Semara Patangian, this court gamelan is used to accompany legong and Calonarang dances. It may also be modified by use of a large drum to accompany barong, sandaran and jauk dances. Our set also has a terompong which may be used for playing the ethereal court melodies.
When we purchased the antique set, it was in poor condition and in need of restoration. After fifteen years of love and care, it now sounds better and better at every performance. The order of the keys is in the old style with the smallest key, ndang, on the left, rather than the usual order starting with the low nding. The set also includes rare instruments such as a gentorag (bell tree) as well as a pair of gumanak (bronze tubes hit with sticks).
Our group plays the repertoire of I Wayan Lotring of Kuta and other anonymous composers from Denpasar. The majority of this repertoire dates back to the early twentieth century. In 2004, engaging guru I Wayan Mandra and senior advisor I Ketut Nagi (deceased), our group revived some of the near-forgotten instrumental pieces once known in Sanur. These originated in Kelandis and were taught to the Singgi musicians in the 1950s by I Kecug from Pagan Kelod. We never recorded however, and it has not been until the death of Nagi in 2010 that we started to work seriously on documenting the style via recording – this is one of our ongoing projects.
A 2019 performance of our semara patangian performing a reconstructed 1941 version of ‘Gambang Kuta’ by I Wayan Lotring:
Pelegongan dance music heralds from an earlier time when the courts were still active and most courts supported groups of nandir, leko or legong dancers.
If we add a terompong to our our semara patangian set it becomes a five-tone semara pagulingan orchestra. In February 2020 we also added the rarest semara pagulingan instrument known to history: a bamboo xylophone with 13 keys in two and a half octaves and played with two wooden mallets called ‘grantang’. Our founder, Vaughan, reconstructed this instrument based on a 1924 photo from Jaap Kunst’s book ‘De Toonkunst van Bali’ and we have had to work out how to play it based on his field notes. In addition to the grantang, when we play this orchestra as a semara pagulingan we also add in kangsi, a ponggang-kempyung (a row of four pots that play punctuation throughout gending) as well as gumanak.
Watch more videos of our semara patangian orchestra on our YouTube channel.