THE MUNDUK STYLE
In the early years of the 20th century musicians in certain villages of Buleleng began to transform the traditional gamelan gong Gede into the form today known as the gamelan gong Kebyar. This one of the few commercially available recordings of this "northern" or Singaraja style of Balinese music. The features that distinguish this style of playing are its precision and the dynamic range that the orchestra produces with only the hammered bronze metalophones, cow hide drums and bamboo flutes of the traditional Gamelan.
The village of Munduk, perched on the slopes of a sacred volcano in the mountains of North Bali, is one of the villages that continues this vibrant form of gamelan. Under the painstaking direction of I Made Tripa, this Gamelan orchestra has won first place in the prestigious Bali Art Festival. The Munduk Gamelan's precision and synchronicity in performance are astonishing and reveal almost supernatural coordination. The musical pieces on this recording are all drawn from a collection of dances tied to the complex Balinese religion, which revolves around a 210-day cycle of religious festivals and pilgrimages.
The Munduk Gamelan was recorded on location at the traditional family compound of I Made Tripa in Munduk Village, Buleleng Regency, North Bali. These completely digital recordings were made on July 28, 2000 and July 7, 2002.
1. Gabor (10:38)
The Gabor is an ancient ritual dance performed during the "Odalan" temple birthday celebration by from two to ten women. This dance welcomes the arrival of the gods and goddesses together with the ancestors to the earth. The rapid tempo and precise detail of Gamelan Munduk transmute this frequently-heard piece into a classic tour de force.
2. Legong Kuntul (19:58)
This is one of Legong Keraton (Palace Dance) repertoire, drawn from folk stories and Hindu mythology. A legong is most frequently danced by three young women who repeat and reflect each other's movements with great precision, even when facing away from each other at opposite ends of the stage. The frequent shifts of tempo create dramatic tension and an atmosphere of excitement.
3. Taruna Jaya (15:51)
"Dance of Victorious Youth" was composed by I Gede Manik and Pan Wandres of Jagaraga village. The dance begins with two young women dressed identically in male clothing. This version, typical of North Bali, depicts the diverse range of emotions of a youth entering adulthood.
4. Topeng Tua (10:14)
In dances drawn from Hindu tales, the Tua is the old king or the aged wise minister. He is also a figure of some comic relief as he hunts for lice in his hair and clutches at his aching back. His ironic dance captures the universal plight of man as the mature wisdom of the mind competes with the weakness and pain of an aging body.
5. Topeng Keras (5:29)
This Prime Minister character reflects the so-called rough personality by exhibiting pride, foolishness, and ambition. A man at the peak of his powers, a decision maker, and advisor to the King, he is clever and cunning, and occasionally is involved in political and romantic intrigues.
6. Topeng Sidhakarya (8:47)
"He without whom the ceremony is not complete" is the final mask to appear in the "Topeng Pajegan." Sidhakarya is a mesmerizing and powerful character who wards off disruptive evil spirits. As the topeng nears an end, the children in the audience begin to glance around nervously in anticipation of his entrance. Then they scatter in all directions as he appears and tries to catch one of them.