Monday, September 18, 2006

Gendang Beleq

Go to any festival or ceremony in Central Lombok and you will hear the beat of drums over all else. These big drums are called Gendang Beleq. The big shape and loud sound of the drums characterize the spirit of war, indeed, according to historians, the drums were used to escort soldiers in battle during the eras when Lombok was ruled by kings. Nowadays however the drums are used for more peaceful occasions such as in wedding carnival parades called Nyongkolan and also as a welcome for important guests.

Gendang Beleq is a favourite among music teachers and lovers of ethnic music styles. The Gendang Beleq (Gendang=Drum / Beleq=Big) orchestra is only to be found in Lombok and at times has up to 40 members.

Originally played when moving into battle, the Gendang Beleq nowadays is performed during weddings and various traditional festivals. Its thriving rhythm is rather different from the usual gamelan tones and also involves some dancing techniques whilst playing the Big Drum or the Ceng-Ceng (hand-cymbals). Every village in Lombok has its own Gendang Beleq orchestra wearing colourful uniforms during performances. If you are lucky you will be part of such a performance.

To take part in this elective you should be very open minded and not feel shy since you will be the centre of attention especially in the first days. The whole village will be there to watch. However, after some time everybody will be used to your presence and you will make many new friendships and will have an unforgettable experience.

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