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Analyzing Improvisations on a Known Model

Analyzing Improvisations on a Known Model

The Freedom of Reyong Norot

(p.89) Chapter Three Analyzing Improvisations on a Known Model
Making It Up Together
Leslie A. Tilley
University of Chicago Press

The second of two chapters in a case study on the musical analysis of collective improvisation, this chapter examines reyong norot, a collectively improvised practice for the Balinese gamelan gong kebyar’s four-person melodic gong chime reyong. Building on the model and knowledge base proposed in the previous chapter (Ch. 2), this chapter considers the many ways that reyong musicians diverge from their models in improvised performance. Short improvised patterns as well as longer group passages are closely analyzed in the context of the four improvisational processes theorized in Chapter 1: interpretation, embellishment, recombination, and expansion. The analyses borrow concepts from related Balinese techniques, draw upon idioms and idiosyncrasies of individual pieces and performers, and are framed in local oral music theories on stasis and motion (ngubeng and majalan), feeling (rasa), “greatness” (wayah), and other concepts gleaned through field research. Each new analysis suggests ways that the four broad conceptual categories of improvisatory process can be nuanced and expanded to suit the specific conceptual space of reyong norot, revealing the flexibility of the concepts while not shying away from their limits. Throughout, comparisons to diverse practices across the globe point to the widespread applicability of the proposed analytical framework.

Keywords:   reyong norot, reyong, norot, improvisation, collective improvisation, musical analysis, interpretation, embellishment, recombination, expansion

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