Emory Gamelan Ensemble Introduces Oxford to Indonesian Culture

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On Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m. in Williams Hall, Oxford College hosted the Emory Gamelan Ensemble, a concert reflecting Javanese musical culture, for an OxStudies event open to the entire campus.

Javanese is an Indonesian ethnic group, specific to the island of Java, and the music and instruments are unique to this group. The ensemble consisted of Emory faculty as well as students and community members.

The event introduced the audience to many new instruments that resembled pots and xylophones but possessed a unique and majestic sound to them.

The concert began with an introductory piece called “Ladrang Wilujeng Slendro Manyura”, which involved various sounds and tempos, allowing the ensemble to demonstrate its different tones. 

“Ladrang Bima Kroda Slendro” which translates to “Bima is Angry”, is a piece that created an air of tension by increasing the tempo of the song as well as increasing the sound. The players’ facial expressions were also more serious and intense during this song, farther adding to the “angry” atmosphere that the music was supposed to represent. Through the inclusion of this piece in the concert, the audience learned that the instruments could convey certain emotions based on the way it is played.

At the end of the performance, there was an interactive learning session where the members of the group gradually layered the sounds of each instrument to teach the audience how each sound mixed together. 

They taught students how they practice, including individually playing each part and slowly adding more sounds on top of one another. This gave an insight into the creation process, an aspect that many often do not see when attending concerts. It gave the event a personal, comfortable feeling, the audience members also being allowed to ask questions as they were walked through the process.

This event introduced a small aspect of Indonesian culture to the Oxford College student body. The players even invited the audience to play the instruments and remain after the event to ask any more questions about the process. It was enjoyable to watch students their passions with the Emory Gamelan Ensemble and work with others to create a beautiful sound, their hard work paying off in delivering a truly eye-opening and culturally diverse experience to the campus community.

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