Traditional Balinese Songs
Traditional Balinese songs are called Tembang. Tembang is one of oldest arts in Bali and has been a strong part of Balinese culture. Some Tembang were sung by Balinese before the coming of Hindu-Buddhist cultures, such as Kuskus Arum, Suaran Kumbang, Puspa Pangan Jali, etc. Mostly Tembang in Bali contain many moral messages for education. Based on the structure and function, Tembang can be classified into 1) Gegending, 2) Pupuh/ Sekar Alit, 3) Kidung/ Sekar Madya, and 4) Kekawin/ Sekar Agung. [Source: Bali Tourism Board]
1) Gegending is the simplest. It has short sentences, simple dictions, and very clear meanings. The song does not have any rules on how to sing it like the others. Mostly Gegendingan is used in children games or dances which have purpose for bonding among Balinese youth, but a type of Gegending is also used for accompanying sacred dances. Based on when Gegending is used, it can be divided into A) Gending Rare, B) Gending Jejangeran, and C) Gending Sanghyang. A) Gending Rare are children songs. These songs are usually used for accompanying traditional children games. It is used to educate children about etiquette. The popular Gending Rare are Meong-meong, Juru Pencar, Galang Bulan, and Indang-indang Sidi. B) Gending Jejangeran is a cheerful song which accompanies Janger Dance. This song is sung by group of female and male dancers during the dance. C) Gending Sanghyang is a song which accompanies sacred dances, such as: Sanghyang Jaran, Sanghyang Dedari, etc. This song precedes Hindu-Buddhist cultures. The famous Gending Sanghyangs are: Kuskus Arum, Suaran kumbang, and Puspa Panganjali.
2) Pupuh/ Macepat/ Sekar Alit are Balinese traditional songs which has a main rule called Padalingsa. Padalingsa consist of Guru Wilang and Guru Dingdong. Guru Wilang is a rule which arrange how many words should be in a row and how many rows in a song (Pupuh). Guru Dingdong is a rule which arrange the last vocal in a row. Pupuh is used for expressing one’s feelings or giving advice to the younger. This traditional song is sung in mostly Balinese life. So that is why Pupuh has many variation themes. Pupuh is classified based on the feeling of the singer and its intonation (Intonation, Singer feeling, Name of Pupuh: A) Normal, relaxed & peaceful, Pucung, Mijil, Sinom Lawe, and Ginada; B) fast & high, Happy, Adri, Megatruh, Ginada Basur, and Sinom Genjek; C) slow & low, sad & disappointed, Semarandana, Maskumambang and Demung.; D) normal & very high, Angry, Durma and Sinom Lumrah.
3) Kidung/ Sekar Madya is usually sung in ceremonies in Bali by a group of people and accompanied by Gamelan. Kidung themes are mostly about prayers of adoration. Kidung came to Bali from Java around the 16th – 19th century. It seems to derive from Old Javanese (Jawa Tengaan/ Kawi) which is used in some Kidung. After Kidung arrived in Bali, it was affected by Balinese culture. This influence is evident in the Kidung structure in Bali, which consists of Pangawit (opening part) and Pangawak (main part), which is not found in Java. Some famous Kidung in Bali are Wargasari, Sudhamala, Sidhapaksa, and Alis-alis Ijo.
4) Kekawin is actually life philosophies and other Vedic lessons delivered to people through songs. Similar to Kidung, Kekawin is also sung in ceremonies. Kidung are in Sanskrit. It requires the singer to be able in the language. Kidung is usually sung by two singers. The first singer sings Kidung in its original language, sentence by sentence. After the first singer finished a sentence, the second singer will translate it into Balinese. This action will be done until the end of the Kekawin lyric. Some famous Kekawin in Bali are Saronca, Tanukerti, Girisa, Wirat, and Puspitagra.