Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sophia and Me Playing the Gongs

We went to the annual Dragon Festival at Lake Phalen this year. The event showcases the 2,400-yr-old tradition and sport of dragon boat racing. There also are performances, displays, and activities that help increase cross-cultural understanding.

One of the performances was by the Sumunar Gamelan Ensemble led by Joko. When I use to run Create & Cultivate Art Camps for children at the farm, Joko was one of the artists who taught the children. He's a great artist/educator, and I was so happy that Sophia and Olivia were able to see and hear the Gamelan Ensemble.

At the end of the performance, Joko asked if anyone from the audience wanted to learn to play the gamelan. Sophia and I volunteered. We were guided to the gong section.

I started out with the little gongs and Sophia was going to play the large one. She wanted to switch, though, and play the smaller ones.

It was such a fun experience, and one that both of us will remember for many years.

So, what is a gamelan? Here's the definition from Wikipedia:

A gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Bali or Java, featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. Vocalists may also be included.

The term refers more to the set of instruments than to the players of those instruments.

A gamelan is a set of instruments as a distinct entity, built and tuned to stay together — instruments from different gamelan are generally not interchangeable.

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