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Reyong norot figuration : an exploration into the inherent musical techniques of Bali Tilley, Leslie Alexandra

Abstract

"Reyong Norot Figuration: An Exploration into the Inherent Musical Techniques of Bali" is an account of one scholar's immersion into the music of the gamelan gong kebyar - a modern secular genre of Balinese "orchestral" music for bronze metallophones, gongs, and hands drums. Its purpose is threefold. The first part is an anthropological, participantobserver study of gong kebyar music and its many facets, both technical and sociological. It seeks to describe how the various elements of the music interconnect, and to explore ways in which these musical relationships reflect aspects of Balinese society. The second part, the main body of the thesis, is a musical analysis of norot - a style of melodic elaboration in gamelan music - as it is realized on the set of twelve small mounted gongs, played by four musicians, called reyong. The reyong is one of the only instruments in the gamelan that may be "improvised" upon, though its improvisatory freedom seems to be guided by strict constraints - inherent and, consequently, unconscious. My analysis - based on hundreds of reyong norot variations, as played by the well-known Balinese musician and composer Dewa Ketut Alit - is an attempt to uncover, essentially at the microscopic or cellular level, the inherent set of "rules," as it were, for reyong norot, and to create, with a linguistics-inspired model, a grammar for norot figuration. This grammar is determined by establishing a stylistically relevant norot model or template on which all reyong norot elaborations are at least loosely based, and then creating a finite set of categories which explain all of the elaborations that do not adhere to the master template. The final purpose of this thesis is to offer a critique on the field of ethnomusicology as a whole - to explore the various directions that the field has taken in the last century and to incite a dialogue into areas of focus that have been neglected in recent years. It is a humble attempt at enriching the ethnomusicological canon with a fresh perspective from a less anthropology-based angle - that of music-theory-based analysis.

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