Gendhing

The gendhing (also written, as in the old orthography, gending) is a class of gendhing structures used in Javanese gamelan music. Gendhing can also be used to refer to gamelan compositions in general.

Gendhing is the longest and most complicated of the gendhing structures. It is typically played in a slow irama, although it may have faster sections. Gendhing are sometimes classified by which elaborating instrument is most prominent, called gendhing bonang or gendhing rebab. Gendhing never use the kempul or gong suwukan.

Gendhing have two parts, a merong and a minggah (or "inggah"). Both consist of a single gongan lasting four nongan, but the nongan can be of different lengths. Gendhing are then classified according to the number of kethuk strokes in a nongan in each section. The merong section does not use the kempyang, but the minggah section does. There are two patterns for the kethuk in the merong, arang ("infrequent, sparse") and kerep ("frequent"). Both have the kethuk play only at the end of a gatra, but in the kerep pattern, it is at the end of all odd-numbered gatras, whereas in the arang, it is at the end of the gatras of doubled odd numbers (that is, gatras 2, 6, 10, 14, etc.). In the minggah section, the kempyang and kethuk play in the same pattern as in the ketawang, but with no other interpunctuating instruments.

For an example of the gendhing structure, consider "gendhing kethuk 2 kerep minggah kethuk 4." This means that in the merong, there will be two kethuk strokes that happen on odd-numbered gatra, and in the minggah, there will be four gatras per nongan. The structure would then look like:

Merong:

...T .... ...T ...N
...T .... ...T ...N
...T .... ...T ...N
...T .... ...T ...G

Minggah:

pTp. pTp. pTp. pTpN
pTp. pTp. pTp. pTpN
pTp. pTp. pTp. pTpN
pTp. pTp. pTp. pTpG

where "." indicates no interpunctuating instrument plays, p indicates the stroke of the kempyang, T the ketuk, N the kenong, and G the simultaneous stroke of the gong and kenong. Thus, in each section, the gong plays once, the kenong divides that into four parts, and then that is divided into parts according to the given structure. Here, in each part, each nongan lasts 16 beats (keteg), and thus the gongan lasts 64.

That was a fairly short example; a "kethuk 4 arang" merong, for example, would look like:

.... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... ...N
.... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... ...N
.... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... ...N
.... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... .... .... ...T .... ...G

and thus a nongan would last 16 gatras (64 beats), and a gongan 64 gatras (256 beats). Obviously, in a long structure like that, especially at a slow tempo, a single gongan may last many minutes.

The merong section may include a ngelik, which would also have the length of a single gongan. The minggah section may also use one of the other structures, especially the ladrang. If that is the case, the piece will be noted something like "minggah ladrang". If the other section has a different name, that will be given as well.

Between the merong and inggah is a bridge section called the ompak. Typically it has the length of one nongan, and a contrasting balungan melody to the merong.

References

  • Neil Sorrell. A Guide to the Gamelan. London: Faber and Faber, 1990. Page 70-73.
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