Gamelan is the traditional ensemble music of Bali and Java, made up primarily of percussive instruments: the metallophones (played by mallets), kendhang (hand-played drums), xylophones, bamboo flutes, and rebab (a bowed instrument). Classical gamelan music is called karawitan.
barong and keris dance:
The barong and keris (kris) dance represents an eternal battle between good and evil spirits. The barong, a mythological lion-like animal, represents a good spirit, and Rangda, a mythological widow-witch monster, represents an evil spirit. The dance is a classic example of the Balinese way of blending myth and history. The story is a duel between Rangda and the barong, whose supporters draw their krises (daggers) and rush in to help. Rangda throws them into a trance, causing them to try to stab themselves. The barong then casts a spell so that the daggers cannot hurt the warriors.
Kecak dance is not accompanied by a gamelan orchestra but instead by a choir of seventy men who sit in a circle as they chant, imitating a troupe of monkeys. They are the only musical accompaniment to the dancing. It has its origin in an old ritual or trance dance, the "sanghyang", in which a person in a trance communicates with the deities or ancestors. Using the dancers as a medium, the deities or ancestors convey their wishes. In the 1930s the old Indian epic Ramayana was included in the dance. The story, in a nutshell, is as follows. Due to a wise prince of Ayodya, Rama, the rightful heir to the throne of Ayodya, was exiled from the realm of his father Dasarata. Accompanied by his wife Sita and his younger brother Laksamana, he fled into the Dandaka Forest. While in the forest the demon king Rahwana found them and lusted after the beautiful Sita. Accompanied by his prime minister Marica, he planned treachery to steal Sita. Using his magic power Marica transformed himself into a golden deer and lured Rama and Laksamana away from Sita. Rahwana took this oppurtunity to kidnap Sita and take her into his palace Alengka. Discovering this deception, Rama and Laksamana set out to rescue Sita from the clutches of the demon king, assisted by a huge army of monkeys under the command of their king Hanoman. Rama succeeded in getting his wife back safely.
Classical legong dance is a form of welcome and entertainment. The name comes from "leg", which means "beautiful movements", and "gong", meaning "melodious sound" produced by traditional Balinese instruments. This form of dance is difficult to learn as it has very complex movements and requires sensitivity to the musical sounds. The movements are very precise, including the eye movements. Legong dance is usually performed by three female dancers wearing luxurious costumes and accompanied by a special Gong, the Gamelan Semar Pagulingan, which is smaller than the other traditional intruments and has specific sounds.
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Last modified 30 July 2019