Gangsa

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Gamelan of Bali 200507-1.jpg

A gangsa is a type of metallophone which is used mainly in Balinese and Javanese Gamelan music. In Balinese gong kebyar styles, there are two types of gangsa typically used: the smaller, higher pitched kantilan and the larger pemade. Each instrument consists of several tuned metal bars (either iron or bronze) each placed over an individual resonator. The bars are hit with a wooden panggul, each producing a different pitch. Duration of sound intensity and sound quality factors are generally accomplished by damping the vibration of the bar with the fingers of the free hand. Balinese gong kebyar gangsas, as with other metallophones in gong kebyar ensembles, are played in neighboring pairs with interlocking, rapid-tempo parts that elaborate on the melody of a piece of music (see Kotekan); these pairs are tuned to be dissonant and create certain wavelengths of sympathetic vibrations to create a shimmering tone (see Ombak) that travels long distances. The gangsa is very similar to the old gendér and the saron.

A gajah is also the name of a completely different one, which is indigenous to the cultures found in the mountain regions (the Cordillera) of the northern Philippines. The gangsa of the northern Philippines is a single hand-held smooth-surfaced gong with a narrow rim. A set of gangsa, which is played one gong per musician, consists of gangsa tuned to different notes, depending on regional or local cultural preferences. The number of gangsa in a set varies with availability, and depends on the tradition of a particular ethnic group of the Luzon Cordillera: Kalinga, Ifugao, Bontoc, etc.

Among the Kalinga people in the Cordillera region of Luzon Island, the gangsa is played in two ways. One way is called "toppaya" and the other is called "palook." In "toppaya" style, the musicians play the surface of the gangsa with their hand while in a sitting position, with a single gangsa resting on the lap of each musician. In the "palook" style, a gangsa is suspended from the musician's left hand and played with a padded stick held in the musician's right hand. In the "palook" style of playing, the players are standing, or they keep in step with the dancers while bending forward slightly.