Loved by the people, music is as much a part of the environment as rivers, trees, and the snarl of 'bemos' (public transportation). It is often difficult to know where music ends and nature and Balinese life begin.
Echoing, throbbing xylophones, drums, and clashing cymbals can be heard all hours of the day and night, blending with chirping crickets and croaking frogs. Bathers sing in rivers, rattles clack in fields, bicycle bells tingle, kites vibrate in the wind, little boys imitate the sound of gongs, pigeons circle overhead with whistles attached to their feet.
And during the space of just a few kilometers one may hear the hard and feverish rehearsal of half a dozen percussion-centered gamelan the centerpiece in this rich and varied musical environment.
The word gamelan simply means 'musical group' and may refer to 20 different kinds of xylophones, percussion-type music ansembles. Just as the Balinese share the planting of rice and the upkeep of their temples, traditional orchestra clubs, 'sekaha', are a communal organization in which everyone shares an equal interest and pride.