Gamelan Music – Colotomic Structure
A particular aspect of Gamelan music is its colotomic structure which is described as “a system that marks off music into temporary units according to the entrance of specific instruments in a specific order at specific times”. There are different patterns which are used in this structure such as “gilak” which refers to a form using an 8, 16 or 32 beat cycle. Traditionally, gamelan music is memorised and aurally passed on through each generation, however, today, gamelan musicians and composers use western notation to establish and share their music. The notation used to present a particular beat cycle in the colotomic structure is the gamelan cipher notation which indicates the beats which each individual instrument must play. In a gamelan orchestra, the instruments are divided by their individual parts, specifically in the note values which they play. For example, the balinese gong (kempur or kemong) is a resonant metallic instrument which holds the role of marking structural points within music and therefore often plays long held note values such as minims or semibreves. Other instruments such as the rebab (bowed instrument) would play the predominant melody with shorter note values such as quavers and semi-quavers.
– Gamelan Terminology : http://web.hku.hk/~igamelan/balinese/#terms
– Gamelan Cipher Notation : http://homepages.cae.wisc.edu/~jjordan/gamelan/notation.html