Marimba, three players

Duration: 8 min.

Gandrung is for three players playing one or two marimbas. When playing one marimba, player 1 stands on the "wrong" side of the keyboard. However, the part is arranged so that player 1 plays only the "black" keys. When playing two instruments, player 1 should play one of the marimbas and players 2 and 3 should share the other. The piece is ideally suited for a marimba with a five-octave plus one note range, from C2 to C7. However, it can also be played on an instrument with a range from F2 to C7.

One of the most interesting, if currently rare, ensembles from Bali in Indonesia is the gamelan gandrung. While it is one of several types of gamelan (traditional instrumental ensembles) on this musically rich island that is made from bamboo, its instruments are made of wooden slabs somewhat like Western xylophones rather than the tubes used in the larger and more recent gamelan jegog and gamelan joged. Unlike those gamelan, its five-tone scale derives from the pelog or saih pitu tuning system which has a contrast of large and small step sizes. Gandrung is also known for accompanying a vivacious, flirtatious dance of the same name. Though in the nineteenth century it enjoyed royal patronage, as the court music became more refined gandrung's dynamism and erotic associations soon relegated it to the village street.

Today, however, gandrung is primarily known for its particularly intricate interlocking patterns, known as kotekan, which are sometimes borrowed for new compositions for the more famous and common gamelan kebyar, an ensemble of bronze instruments. Kotekan is a distinctively Balinese playing technique requiring intense precision and, as in Balinese society, a selfless cooperation. While this piece includes kebyar-like explosions of activity and complex interlocking patterns as in gandrung, none of the music is borrowed literally from those traditions. Instead I have tried to freely evoke the exuberant spirit and challenging musicianship of gandrung.