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Bonang Barung from the Javanese Gamelan Kyai Rengga Manis Everist

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Bonang Barung

NMM 9873. Bonang Barung in Laras Slendro. Mid-sized bonang. Twelve bronze pots in two rows of six located in square openings in rectangular teakwood frame, suspended by string threaded through channels carved into frame. Frame decorated with flower and leaf patterns covered with gold leaf. Two removable wings on each end of stand carved in shape of two nagas (dragons) with intertwining tails at top, curved bodies, and heads resting at the bottom of the wings on both ends; covered in gold leaf. Length (wing to wing, not including wings): 223.8 cm. Diameter of largest pot (at base): 18.1 cm. Two mallets (tabuh) with red cord wrapped very close to one end creating a soft, springy, oval shape that comes in contact with the pots.

Bonang Barung

Function:  The bonang barung is both an elaborating, as well as a leading instruments. Similar to the rebab and gender barung, the bonang barung can play the buka or introduction to a piece of music. As in the case of the buka rebab and gender, players are expected to know the introduction and be able to follow without being told in advance what piece will be played. In a special kind of music known as gendhing bonang, the bonang barung plays a prominent role in leading the melody. In this type of music the rebab and gender are not played. The patterns that are played by the bonang barung depend on the irama or tempo structure. The patterns can be derived from the balungan or basic melody of the saron; however. it is more appropriate to say that the balungan is derived from the bonang patterns (and also the melody of the rebab and gender barung) and not the other way around. Similar to the gander barung, there is a changing of the number of beats played by the bonang in relation to the balungan (basic melody) played by the saron and slenthem when the irama (tempo structure) changes. For example, in irama tanggung there are eight bonang beats for every four of the saron, whereas, in irama dados, there are sixteen bonang beats for every four of the basic melody. It is the basic melody tempo that slows down to accommodate these further elaborations of the melody by the bonang barung. The upper row of pots is considered to be female, while the lower octave is male.

Bonang Barung pots

Playing technique:  the bonang barung is played with the soft end of two mallets. The player sits on the side with the lowest octave pots. The previous note will be dampened as the next is played using the malletís soft end unless the instrument is mature enough that the pots only ring briefly, or unless the music is too complex for all the notes to be dampened effectively.


Carved Wing


Wing on Bonang Barung

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Go to Glossary of Terms Relating to the Kyai Rengga Manis Everist Gamelan

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Most recent update:   April 3, 2014

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