For Javanese, gamelan has been part of their life. Javanese or Sundanese recognize that gamelan is set of instrumental with typical sound. A Dutch man Dr JL A Brandes said that far before India influence arrived, Javanese already had culture and knowledge of wayang, gamelan, poet rhyme, batik, metal processing, currency system, sailing technology, astronomic, sawah agriculture and bureaucratic. So Gamelan has been in Indonesia since prehistoric, though there is no written record to trace gamelan in prehistoric era. Gamelan is product of culture to fulfill human need of arts and art is one of elements of culture that is universal in nature. Gamelan changes since its first existence, especially in its ensemble.
Karawitan term refers to gamelan orchestra performance, and used by Javanese. This term evolved in its use and meaning. Karawitan derives from rawit means small, refined or complicated. It said that in Keraton Surakarta, karawitan term has been used as umbrella for few arts, such as tatah sungging, carving, dancing and puppetry. Karawitan also refers to art of singing and music that consists of aspects: utilizing gamelan-partly or entire set slendro or pelog, partly or entirely using slendro and or pelog, gamelan instruments or non-gamelan or vocal or mix of both. The current Javanese Gamelan is not only known in Indonesia but also in USA, England, Japan and Canada.
Javanese culture or Indonesian culture in general, started since historic period, signed by writing system. From 8th to 15 century, Javanese culture was enriched by elements of Indian cultures. One of the India cultures elements in gamelan dan dance is through transformation of Hindu-Buddha culture.
Literature about gamelan found in verbal sources, as written in inscriptions or literatures in Hindu-Buddha period. The sources are pictorial source such as reliefs engraved on temples, in Central Java (7 to 10 century) or East Java (11 to 15 century) . In East Java written source, ensemble of gamelan was called as tabeh-tabehan or in new Javanese is tabuh-tabuhan or tetabuhan means every instrument that produces sound by beating it using mallets or stick with various shapes.
Zoemulder explained that the word gamel using percussive instrument. In Javanese, there is word of gambel means mallet. In Balinese gambelan and perhaps later became gamelan. In 13 century, a musician Judith Baker said that gamelan derives from a name of Burma priest, also an iron expert name Gumlao. But there is no such instrument in South East Asia.
In few fragments of Borobudur temple, there are various kinds of gamelan instruments: drum with rope and worn around neck, pot shaped drum, zither, lute, cymbals, flute, saron and gambang. In Roro Jonggrang temple, depicted cylindrical drum, convex drum, pot shaped drum, cymbals and flute.
Reliefs of gamelan instruments in East Java temple reliefs can be found at Candi Jago (13th century) stringed instruments and celempung. While in Candi Ngrimbi (13th Century) there is relief of 2 bonang pencon. Big gong relief is found at Kedaton temple from 14 century and cylindrical drum at Tegawangi Temple (14 Century). In Penataran main temple (14 Century) depicted gong, bendhe, kemanak, and drum, gambang, reyong and cymbals. IN Candi Sukuh depicted relief of trumpet and bendhe.
According to reliefs records and literature, India influenced Javanese gamelan. Indian music is closely related to religious activity.
In Javanese gamelan, kendang is included in this class. in few inscriptions, membranophon has been popular since mid of 9th century, named as pataha, padahi, padaha, murawa or muraba, mrdangga, mrdala, muraja, panawa, kahala, damaru, kendang. Padahi term is the oldest term in Kuburan Candi inscription date back 821. The term was used until Majapahit period as written in Negarakertagama wrote by Mpu Prapanca in 1365. It is not impossible that membranophon is instrument from Indonesia without India influence used in rituals. Membranophone is the main instrument in primitive culture in general.
In metal era of prehistoric period in Indonesia, mako and nekara were already recognized. Nekara was used as drum. Other opinion said that nekara later developed into gong. In India drum like instrumet are called in various names such as dundubhi, pataha, mridangga, panava, murawa, mrdala; and known since veda period.
In myth mrdangga was created by Brahma to accompanied Siva dance defeating Trusurapura. In Natya Sastra, bheri, bhambha, dindimas terms were possible terms for kendang instrument. Bheri in Javanese is ideophon similar like bendhe.
Gangsa term means gamelan had been used since 12 century as found in Smaradhana that says that gending of King Rajasa was played, kendang, gong, gangsa and gubar meandering. In current gamelan, gambang gangsa is gambang that is made of metal (bronze or brass). Other membranophone instruments are bedug and terbang.
Bedug term was found in Kidung Malat. In Kakawin Hariwangsa, Ghatitkacasraya, and Kidung Harsawijaya, the instrument is called as tipakan. And tabang-tabang term written in Ghatotkacasraya and Sumanasantaka, that probably changed to terbang. If this is right, then terbang or bedhug are not from Islam culture but it exists snce 12 century.
Instrument in this category that were found in inscription or literature are tuwung, tuwung, kangsi, rigang, curing, rojeh, brikuk, bungkuk, kamanak, gambang, calung, salunding, barung, ganding, dan gong. Inscriptions in Central Java mentioned curing, regang, tuwung and brikuk. Curing and tuwung are similar to cymbals. Curing is made of metal. In Kuti inscription dated back 840 mentioned that” Mangkana yan pamuja mangungkunga curing…” (If there is a worship activity, curing is played). Magungkunga in recent javanese can still be found ngungkung. Curing was very popular in old Javanese as mentioned in Penetapan Sima (9-12 Century).
According Jaap Kunst, curing or kuwung are similar to kicer. Celuring instrument is part of keraton Yogyakarta and Pura pakualaman gamelan. Possibly that celuring derives from curing. So curing was like celuring in recent time. IN other literature rojeh is mentioned in Hariwangsa, Kresnayana, Sumanasantaka, Siwaratrikalpa and Kidung Harsawijaya. This instrument is estimated similar to cymbal. Baribit was also instrument mentioned in Ramayana.Brikuk is name of instrument found in panggumulan Inscription in 902 and Lintakan Inscription dated back 919. In paradah inscription date back 943 found bungkuk. In current gamelan is called as kethuk. Kethuk term existed since Kadiri pariod as written in Kariwangsa of Mpu panuluh. In that literature was delineated the nature beauty when Rukmini and Kresna were on a journey and in shadow puppet show (Wayang) is accompanied by salunding, kituk and talutak.
The description above shows that wayang performance in 12 century was accompanied by humble gamelan ensamble. Are brikuk and bungkuk instrument like ketuk and kenong?
According to J Kunst brikuk or bungkuk are term for same instrument, and possibly that brikuk, bungkuk, kituk are one type of instruments.
3. Aerofon (Sushira Vadya)
This instrument can produces sound blowing air. In recent Javanese ansamble, flute is one of instrument in klenengan or uyon uyon. In Natya Sastra, flute was called as vamsa means bamboo. Pictorial proof of flute in old Java period can be seen at Candi Borobudur in Karmawibhangga, Jataka relief, lalitawistara and at candi Jago and Candi Penataran. According to the reliefs there are vertical and horizontal flute. In old Java Ramayana, bangsi was played with rawandsta instrument. Bangsi or wangsi can derive from Sanskrit vamsa. In Writtasancaya by Mpu Tanakung, flute was called as suling. Ramayana also mentioned suling. In Batur Pura Abang inscription of Bali in 1011,suling was also mentioned. So inconclusion Suling or flute has been in Java since 11 century. Other unstrument in this category is sangkha or trumpet. Sangkha is made of shell and used in India. In Hindu iconography, sangkha is attribute of Wisnu, Kresna. In Ramayana relief at Candi Brahma Prambanan, sangkha was played to wake up Kumbakarna. In Nagarakertagama was written that “gumang kahala sangka lan padaha ganjuran….”. In Ramayana sangkha is called as kalasangkha and in Wirataparwa as sangkhakahala. Kahala sangka and sangkha kahala later became sangkakala, and ganjuran is an instrument similar to kettledrum. Other troppet instrument is pereret as in Kidung Rangga lawe.
Gamelan Java instruments in this classification are siter, celempung, and rebab, Celempung was first mentioned in Cekelwanengpati. IN Candi Jago relief depicted a figure playing celempung. In Wangbang Wideya ballad, samepa instrument is setimated to refer to rebab. And kachapi was mentioned in old Javanese inscription mentioned that terms of ‘wina’, ‘rawanahasta’ and ‘panday rawanahasta’. Rawanahasta means rawana hand and panday rawanahasta means rawanahasta maker. Rawana hasta was analyzed as gamelan instrument resembles lute and the shape is like hand. In old javanese Ramayana mentions makinara and malawuwin. Lawuwina means wina in pumpkin shape. Harp seems to be used since past as in Borobudur relief and in Jalatunda bathing place (East Java). There are few metal statuary found in Nganjuk and Suracala (Yogyakarta) depict goddess playing stringed instrument.
Rewritten from various source.