Tony Donaldson’s Treasure Trove
Here are two photos of Charlie Chaplin in Bali from my collection.
In one photograph, we see Chaplin in a comical moment as if he is conducting a gamelan orchestra in a Balinese village, possibly Ubud. He could also be dancing in front of the gamelan — for the way his arms and hands are positioned suggest this We can’t say for sure. The gamelan players are clearly enjoying this moment with Chaplin, with lots of fun and laughter. A gamelan orchestra is led by the kendang (drum) player – the nearest thing to a kind of conductor in a gamelan.
In these photographs, we can see that Charlie Chaplin enjoyed Bali – the people, and Balinese music, dance and drama. When he met the Singaporean artist Liu Kang, who painted Balinese subjects, Charlie Chapin said to Liu Kang: “Whoever hasn’t been to Bali can’t say that he has been to Southeast Asia.”
Gamelan (/ˈɡæməlæn/) (Javanese: ꦒꦩꦼꦭꦤ꧀, Sundanese: ᮌᮙᮨᮜᮔ᮪, Balinese: ᬕᬫᭂᬮᬦ᭄) is the traditional ensemble music of the Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese peoples of Indonesia, made up predominantly of percussive instruments. The most common instruments used are metallophones played by mallets and a set of hand-played drums called kendhang which register the beat. The kemanak (a banana shaped idiophone) and gangsa (another metallophone) are commonly used gamelan instruments in Java. Other instruments include xylophones, bamboo flutes, a bowed instrument called a rebab, siter, and even vocalists named sindhen (Female) or Gerong (Male).
Although the popularity of gamelan has declined since the introduction of pop music, gamelan is still commonly played in many traditional ceremonies and other modern activities in Indonesia, both at formal and informal events. Gamelan is played to accompany religious rituals, ceremonies, dance, dance-drama, traditional theater, wayang puppets theatre, singing, concerts, festivals, exhibitions, and many more. For most Indonesians, gamelan is an integral part of Indonesian culture.
In 2014, Gamelan traditions are recognized as National Intangible Cultural Heritage of Indonesia by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture.