Gamel & Rawit

Short Introduction to Gamelan & Karawitan

Svenska Orientsällskapet, 23.10.2023

— Bilawa A. Respati

  • Many has been written about it
  • The "Why" and "How"
  • My limitation: Javanese gamelan
    • Tonight's performance: Sundanese
  • Orientation for tonight's audience


  • Gamel: to hit
  • Referring to the group of instruments
  • Each instruments
    • Own name
    • Own function
    • Own playing rule


  • Rawit: small, refine
  • Referring to the art
  • Aspects of, e.g.
    • Aesthetics
    • Ethics
    • Spirituality


  • Melodic function
  • Skeletal framework
  • Punctuation of melodies
  • Direction of tempo, dynamics, rhythm

Function of Instruments

  • Laras: tuning system
  • Pathet
    • Music: system of modal category
    • Wayang: time division of the performance
  • Garap: realization of a music piece
    • Notation: as a guide/framework
    • Realization: decision and skill of musician

Organization of Music

  • Dhalang: puppet master
  • (one) Etymology: angudal piwulang
    • One that gives guidance / teachings
  • Leading the gamelan through signs
  • Serves roles in society, e.g.:
    • To provide beauty in art
    • Giving philosophical and spiritual guidance
    • Entertainment for the people


  • Working together towards a goal
  • To feel like one family
  • Understanding one role in the whole
    • Functions of one's instrument
  • Ki Hadjar Dewantara's maxim
    • The front is giving examples
    • The middle is doing good efforts
    • The back is providing supports

Performing as a Collective

  • Listening to one another
  • Orienting oneself in the music
  • To know what to perform, how, when
  • Assisting the Dhalang in realizing performance


  • Collective practice as interpersonal skills
  • Cultivating one's responsibility in the society
    • Instrument practice
    • Instrument function
  • Spiritual / ethical practice and contemplation
    • Symbolism of sound
    • Symbolism of the system

A Path of Self Training

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