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Kempul gongs from Java
Gambang kromong is a traditional orchestra of Betawi people which is a blend of gamelan, Western music and Chinese-style pentatonic base tones. Gambang kromong is closely associated with the Chinese Betawi community, especially the Chinese Peranakan. It was popular in the 1930s.
Gambang kromong orchestral instruments consists of: gambang kayu (a xylophone-like instrument), kromong (a set of 5 toned bonang), two Chinese rebab-like instruments called ohyan and gihyan with its resonator made out of a small coconut shell, a diatonic pitched flute that is blown crosswise, kenong and gendang drums. Western instruments such as trumpets, guitars, violins, and saxophones may also be included.
Nie Hoe Kong, Kapitein der Chinezen, a musician and Dutch-appointed leader of the Chinese community in mid 18th-century Batavia, is considered one of the early figure who developed the Gambang kromong.
In its first appearance in Batavia, the orchestra was called gambang. Later in the beginning of the 20th-century, they began to use additional instruments, the bonang or kromong, so it is called gambang kromong. During that period, almost every parts of Batavia has a gambang kromong orchestra.
Gambang Kromong reached their peak of popularity around 1937. One of the popular group was Gambang Kromong Ngo Hong Lao, whose players are all Chinese people. The instruments used in the orchestral group was considered to be the most extensive. For the wealthy Chinese, it was a custom to liven up a party by calling a gambang kromong orchestra, usually accompanying a song. Gambang kromong was also performed during the Cap Go Meh festival, sometimes with plays.
Gambang kromong used the Chinese scale instead of the local slendro typical in Javanese, Sundanese, or Balinese gamelan. The set appears in the xylophone-like instrument gambang, used in the orchestra.
- "Gambang Kromong". Jakarta Encyclopedia. Department of Communication, Informatics and Public Relations of Jakarta Capital City. 2012. Retrieved May 29, 2013.