An Analysis of a Gamelan Slendro Tuning

Abstract

Abstract

The tuning of Gamelan music has been poorly understood, obstructed by cultural barriers and practical difficulties. Using a few recordings of Gamelan instruments, sampled from the Javanese Gamelan ensemble at Arizona State University, we determine the frequencies of a Gamelan musical scale, and then compare whether and equal tempered scale or a just intoned scale better explain the musical intervals. We find that the frequencies match better with a specially devised just intonation scale, than with the equal tempered alternative. The measured music intervals still deviated, and we discuss some practical and stylistic reasons for this. We do make the reservation, that our specific conclusions are constrained only the the Javanese Gamelan ensemble at Arizona State University, but using other literature on Gamelan tuning, we entertain possibilities for all tuning systems in Gamelan music culture.