Composition and improvisation in cross-cultural perspective
Composition and improvisation in cross-cultural perspective

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3 A performance of Sundanese gamelan music

3.1 An introduction to gamelan music

The previous section introduced you to a music tradition which places great demands on the inventiveness and virtuosity of a single individual. Although this individual is supported by accompanists, it is to a large extent a soloistic music. We will now move on to a very different kind of music, in a tradition which places more emphasis on group interaction and ensemble playing. This is gamelan music of Sunda, an area comprising roughly the western third of the island of Java, in Indonesia (see Figure 3). Once again this section will concentrate on a particular piece rather than trying to give an overview of gamelan music. As before, you will be introduced to the music through video, and once again a little background information will first be useful.

Figure 3
Figure 3 Bandung, the capital of West Java, is regarded as the main centre of Sundanese culture

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