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Finding an Unspoken Model

Finding an Unspoken Model

The Boundaries of Reyong Norot

(p.51) Chapter Two Finding an Unspoken Model
Making It Up Together
Leslie A. Tilley
University of Chicago Press

The first of two chapters in a music-analytic case study on collective improvisation, this chapter introduces reyong norot, a collectively improvised practice for the Balinese gamelan gong kebyar’s four-person melodic gong chime reyong. The chapter’s goals are two-fold. On the smaller scale, it investigates the consciously-known but unspoken model guiding reyong norot performance: a model derived from the fixed norot playing of the ensemble’s gangsa metallophones then further informed by a knowledge base unique to reyong. Analyses reveal how the gangsa’s complementary polos and sangsih melodic strands, which are played using either specific interlocking figuration (kotekan) or parallel harmonizing notes (kempyung), are differently conceived on the reyong because of its construction and performance practice. More broadly, the chapter outlines a research methodology for uncovering unspoken models for improvisation and analyzing their manifestations in improvised practice. Proposing five basic steps – listening, learning to play, immersion, transcription, and one-on-one interactions – it delineates processes of discovery, ethnographic field methods, and musical analysis techniques from the author’s research on reyong norot as suggested research methods for analytical ethnomusicologists. Discussions throughout the chapter assume an outward bearing, applying concepts to diverse practices worldwide and suggesting rich potential for comparative and cross-cultural research.

Keywords:   reyong norot, reyong, norot, gangsa, gamelan gong kebyar, collective improvisation, research methodology, models for improvisation, model, musical analysis

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