This course provides an introduction to Balinese music, and the role of music in Balinese culture. Students will have the opportunity to both learn about and watch Balinese performances, as well as start to learn and practice the rhythms and techniques of Balinese gamelan online, using the “Jamelan” game. The “Jamelan” game, developed by MIT Professor of the Practice Eran Egozy, consists of rhythm recognition software similar to that used in ‘rhythm-based’ video games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, which Egozy also developed. Using the Jamelan, learners' progress is tracked and measured so that they can play along, hearing their accuracy audibly, but also having that accuracy measured digitally. By merging hands-on pedagogical tools based on traditional Balinese teaching methods, with new digital tools based on the gaming industry, the resulting learning experience is potent.
Besides seeing and hearing these rhythmic patterns directly, and discovering the cultural context of these techniques, learners are also able to explore them in a personalized way, by working through exercises that hone their listening and musicianship skills. Learners have the ability to loop, repeat, change speeds, etc., allowing for a much more personalized experience that responds to different individuals and allows for learners to practice at their own pace. Testing is based on the level of precision in playing along with these patterns, playing the beats, and, eventually, playing complementary parts.
Karen Carlson completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
What, you never heard of Balinese gamelan music? Yeah, neither had I, and I’m still trying to process that MIT has a music department – and a music department deep enough to have a world music section, one that’s willing to put on a mooc, to boot. It’s...
What, you never heard of Balinese gamelan music? Yeah, neither had I, and I’m still trying to process that MIT has a music department – and a music department deep enough to have a world music section, one that’s willing to put on a mooc, to boot. It’s one of those courses that just drifted irresistibly across my feed, whispering enroll, you know you want to. I was a little daunted by the “10 weeks, 6-7 hours/week” time estimation, but I would consider the time estimate wildly inflated: I finished it all in a little more than a week, a couple of hours a day at most.
Gamelan turns out to be a type of music involving predominantly percussion instruments, particularly various kinds of metal or bamboo marimba-like instruments.
One of the most interesting aspects, and the one emphasized by the design of the mooc, is the way new musicians are taught; rather than notation, they use imitation. This was simulated in the course by the Jamelan, a digital instrument (designed by the Guitar Hero guy, I discovered) for us to learn a few parts by imitating Dewa Alit, master gamelan musician and MIT Artist-in-Residence for the past decade. It was great fun.
It's an opportunity to check out something that may be brand-new to you - or, for others, to reconnect with a familiar part of their culture.
FMI see my personal blog post at https://sloopie72.wordpress.com/2020/06/27/balinese-music-gamelan-mooc/