One Friday night, my husband and I ventured out to Ubud. Rather than stopping in the centre, we followed Jalan Suweta – the street next to Ubud Palace – further out to the country side. It was 7:15pm when we arrived in Bentuyung Village, and the Jegog performance had already started. I have wanted to observe a Jegog performance in this little village for a very long time. The spacious stage was perfectly lit up. When we arrived, a group of female dancers were busy performing a Panyembrahma dance, accompanied by the harmonic sounds of a Jegog orchestra. 

Text & Photo by Kartika D. Suardana

One Friday night, my husband and I ventured out to Ubud. Rather than stopping in the centre, we followed Jalan Suweta – the street next to Ubud Palace – further out to the country side. It was 7:15pm when we arrived in Bentuyung Village, and the Jegog performance had already started. I have wanted to observe a Jegog performance in this little village for a very long time.  

The spacious stage was perfectly lit up. When we arrived, a group of female dancers were busy performing a Panyembrahma dance, accompanied by the harmonic sounds of a Jegog orchestra. The stage was separated into two halves; facing the stage on my right hand there were huge bamboo xylophones, perhaps 2m x 2m. On the left side there were some smaller instruments. I could hear that the melody was coming from the smaller instruments in the ensemble; I later found out they were named Undir, Kuntung and Kotekan. Besides those xylophones, melodic notes also came from bamboo flutes, called Suling, different from conventional flutes in that each instrument had only four holes.

Jegog, the authentic ensemble of Negara Regency in west Bali, is one of my favourite styles of authentic Balinese music because even though it is fast and loud, it has a firm rhythm. Jegog is essentially a kind of xylophone made from bamboo slats which are bound to a wooden frame with rope. The complete Jegog group consists of Jegog, melody instruments, Kotekan, bamboo flutes and Kendang – percussion.

Kotekan is the instrument that has the highest pitch. The instruments which perform the melody are the Kuntung and Undir, they generally play one octave higher than Jegog, which operate in the lowest octave of all. On the last session, the biggest and the highest Jegog was brought onto the stage. I guess it was about 3 metres in height. The bamboo trees which form Jegog instruments are gigantic; one of the players told me that the wood comes from a special bamboo tree from Negara Regency. 

During the last performance the audience was welcome on stage to admire the gigantic Jegog and to experience the astonishing sensation of its vibrating sound. As the musician strikes the instrument with a mallet, both beautiful music and powerful vibrations are released into the environment.  I could feel the floor vibrating and even my heart seemed to feel the vibration. 

About Author :

Kartika D. Suadarna

Wapa di Ume
UWRF

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