The best Gamelans in Java
Everyone should agree that the most adorable, beautiful Gamelan sets with perfect sound are those Gamelan sets belonged to four royal palaces, in Solo (Karaton Surakarta and Puro Mangkunagaran) and Yogya (Karaton Yogyakarta and Puro Pakualaman).
It is the fact that these four royal palaces are the centers of Javanese art and culture. Those Gamelans have a long history very closely related to the birth and existence of the palaces. Together with the weapons Ė heirlooms (Pusaka), the Gamelans are the most precious belongings to the Karatons. Even the Gamelans are also considered as heirlooms and they have names. In the ancient time, heirlooms are the symbol of power and authority to Javanese Kings.
Today, as a continuation of tradition and cultural heritage, the Karatonís heirlooms are treated specially, for instance by cleaning or bathing or by providing with offerings. The most important events for heirlooms take place in the Javanese month of Suro.
The philosophy of Gamelan
With a deep inner feeling, Gamelan instruments do not produce only a magical sound of music, a heart-moving melody but they reflect also the essence of a real life. Letís try to understand the meaning.
Rehab: Reflecting the breath of human life, with no breathing, a human being does not live.
Pamurbo Uriping Titah
Pamurbo - the one who is authorized, who has power.
Bonang : a born baby shall cry, otherwise he/she is sick. A sign of a babyís birth Pamurbo swaraning Titah
Kendang: it could be played to accompany various steps of dancers. Sometimes:
Pamurbo Wiramaning Titah
Gong: from the word, Hong, a pray for safety. Symbolizing humanbeings should live in safety.
The Gamelan is showing the clear relationship between the creator (the Holy God) and the creatures (the human beings). The human beings must have a good manner during their life, so they live in safety.
(to be well informed, interested parties are advised to read articles of commemoration of 1st Suro; Keris; Karatons of Surakarta, Yogyakarta, Mangkunagaran and Pakualaman).
There are also excellent Gamelan sets outside the Karatonís wall, belonged to certain cultural institutions or private persons. Some of the new products of Gamelan are also of high quality, it depends to the materials used and the expertise of the makers.
(Suryo S. Negoro)