Music scores

In Bali, sheet music hardly exists. Balinese gamelan players know their music by heart and so do not need a score. Foreigners, on the other hand, learn to play the gamelan more quickly if they can read the music from notations. However, not everyone can read a Western style music score. 

For this reason a form of notation has been invented that uses numbers. This method is adapted from the Javanese way of writing down music. The Javanese system uses the numbers 1 through 7 for the seven tones of the pelog scale. On Bali, however, in a pelog tuned gamelan the notes 4 and 7 are almost always missing, so these numbers are not used in the gamelan scores on this site. 

The numbers represent the following Balinese notes: 1 stands for "ding", 2 for "dong", 3 for "deng", 5 for "dung" and 6 for "dang". Underscored numbers signify the lower register of a gangsa


The gong-line in the scores gives the interpunction by the various types of gong. The t stands for kelentong, the P for kempur and if only one large gong is used, the G stands for gong. Where two gongs are used, as in most melodies for the topeng-play, L signifies the - slightly higher-pitched - gong lanang, W the lower-pitched gong wadon.


For the reong, the letters L and R mean the left- and right-hand player of a seven-gong reong, respectively. In a twelve-gong, four-player reong and counting from the lowest to the highest notes, the players number 1 and 3 are the left-hand players, players number 2 and 4 the right-hand ones. 

In reong notation, p stands for pinggir - rim. The left-hand player plays the rim of gong 5, using the wooden ends of his mallets. The right-hand player does the same on gong 2. At the | sign, the player plays two gongs simultaneously. The left-hand player plays gongs 3 and 6, the right-hand player plays gongs 1 and 3.

Kendang strokes

The kendang may produce a variety of sounds. In the music scores these are represented by letters.

D - dag (wadon) or dug (lanang; pronounce “doog”). The four fingers of the right hand hit the skin between rim and center, or the panggul hits the center. The left drumhead is not muted.

T - tet (wadon) or tut (lanang; pronounce “toot”). As with dag/dug, but the left hand mutes the left head.

P - pung (“poong”). The left hand strikes with outstretched index and little finger. while the right hand half-mutes the right drumhead with the index and little finger. 

p - pak. A sharp slap by the four fingers of the left hand. The right drumhead is completely muted by the full right hand.

t - teng. The highest sound the kendang can make. The middle, fourth and little fingers of the left hand strike the drumhead at the rim; the right drumhead is muted.

Downloadable notations (all PDF-s):

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