Seminar Abstract for Buleleng Conference, July 30 – August 2, 2009
Preservation of Rare Balinese Gamelan: a South Bali Model for the North?
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. In particular, few ancient or classical gamelan ensembles had been recorded, and many gamelan orchestras were either no longer played or had been melted down.
In the year 2000, Vaughan chanced upon purchasing and restoring a disused antique pelegongan gamelan, gathered together like-minded Balinese musicians, and came up with the concept of Mekar Bhuana, with the aim of preserving endangered classical gamelan and its extensive repertoire. Over the past eleven years, he has been researching about semar pegulingan, pelegongan, bebarongan and other rare types of Balinese gamelan.
In 2002 he met Putu Evie Suyadnyani, a Legong dancer and singer who also shared the vision of revival, reconstruction, preservation and conservation. Together they combined the music and dance aspects, forming the Mekar Bhuana Conservatory (www.balimusic.org) in 2004.
Vaughan will talk of his motivation behind preserving rare Balinese performing art-forms, his vision, past and current projects, possible influences from North Bali styles and playing techniques, as well as sustainable plans for preservation.
He hopes that his ideas and concepts may inspire individuals and groups to preserve rare North Balinese performing art-forms. Half of Vaughan’s presentation will involve a demonstration of reconstructed repertoire, playing styles and tunings by the semar pegulingan musicians from Mekar Bhuana.
On the same evening, the Mekar Bhuana seven-tone semar pegulingan will perform traditional compositions from a number of different styles alongside gong cenik (the North Bali equivalent of semar pegulingan) from Buleleng, giving the audience a unique opportunity to compare North and South Bali playing and compositional styles. For a sneak preview of the music you will hear, visit www.balimusic.org/multimedia/recording