Music and Dance of Bali - Modernization Adapting Culture

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A set of Balinese Gamelan

Music and dance have long been the essence of Balinese culture. In the olden days, they were the instruments for people to talk to the Big Man, to express their gratitude on blessings given, to tell stories from the holy book of Veda, to educate the young on social norms and family value, even to get in touch dimensions believed to be parallel to ours.

Historically, music and dance in Bali are comparable to those in Javanese and Sundanese prior to the Islamic period. The music from the era of Majapahit was spread from Java to Bali. During the Islamic increase in Java, Bali started to build their own musical style in accordance to the Hinduism and Buddhism style, while the Javanese restyle their music to Islamic with Hindu background.

The Balinese also developed some musical instruments that had not been used in Javanese and Sundanese music, or in some other instances adjusted the instruments to be suitable for their situations. These are a few of the instruments:

Balinese musicians by dboy –


Gerantang, a bamboo-based marimba-like music instrument with bamboo mallet used to produce sounds. In other part of Indonesia, Gerantang is pretty similar to Kolintang of North Sulawesi. There is another variety of such instrument called Rindik. Instead of cut into half, they used full hollow bamboo sticks.


Ceng-ceng /t͡ʃeŋ t͡ʃeŋ/. It is so called as it sounds. This instrument is pretty similar to those cymbals used by the Chinese in Wayang Potehi and Barongsai performance. The difference between two are the Balinese ceng-ceng sits on a wooden bracket, while the Chinese instrument sticks to the performer’s fingers.


Genggong. It is a type of jaw harp that used to produce flute-like sound with softer tone but more intense in volume. In Balinese music composition, genggong is usually used as the opening act before everything else.

Other than instruments, Balinese also has sound-imitation singing as seen in Kecak dance. The singing imitates the sound of monkeys, and it loosely comparable to Saman dance in Aceh. The composition of Kecak was developed in 1930 by James Clifford and Wayan Limbak after adapting the baris movement and cak leader roles into a Ramayana story of Hanuman and Wenaras (monkey) helping Rama fighting the evil spirits.

The modern type of Balinese music includes Kebyar (literally means explosive), is a type of gamelan music with explosive tempo and dynamic changes in its characteristics. The first documented gamelan gong kebyar was in Jagaraga, Buleleng, North Bali. In the process Gamelan Kebyar then incorporated with Kebyar Dance.

Another type of music and dance is Joged bumbung. Less sacred and used only for secular events, joged bumbung is well known for its happy tones and fast tempos. Audience are sometimes asked to dance together (comparable to jaipongan in West Java) and enjoy the music while it lasts. In 1980s kebyar and joged bumbung style are mixed together and often incorporated by Indonesian composers, such as Guruh Soekarnoputra, to pop musics. Both kebyar and joged bumbung are often heard as part of popular music in clubs want to showcase a little Indonesian tropical style. Maybe you will hear some of it in Kygo’s mix in the future… maybe…

There are so many things to explore in Bali, particularly Ubud, about music and dance of Balinese. If you need to refresh your ears to some western style music, you might want to join Ubud Village Jazz Festival 2018. The festival itself is putting straight ahead jazz as the center of their musical style. The festival will be held on August 10-11, 2018 at ARMA (Agung Rai Museum of Art), and NamaStay is in to support it.

You can buy your ticket in normal price through NamaStay, or you can ask us through website or email us at We have a bundling package for ticket and stay, as follow:

2 persons for 2 nights @ Superior rooms: IDR 2,200,000

4 persons for 2 nights @ Dorm Rooms: IDR 4,300,000

*price includes: 2-night accommodation at designated room and a 2-day-pass ticket for each person. Subject to room availability. Staying period check in Aug 10, check out Aug 12, 2018

Good music, stay jazzy, NamaStay!

#balimusic #balidance #kebyar #jogedbumbung #kecak #ubudvillagejazzfestival #uvjf2018 #wonderfulindonesia #ubud #bali #kygo


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