I created this project as I really wanted to do something that related from my paternal heritage of Sabah. Sabah is one of the 13 states of Malaysia, which very much has its own distinct culture and style of music. I wanted to base this project on the Kulintangan, a set of brass gong instruments, used in many Kadazan-Dusun festivals and ceremonies. However, not having any access to a full Kulintangan set, I used the University of Hertfordshire’s Javanese Gamelan set.
With this project, I also wanted to implement Google Analytics event tracking, and so I added a pageTrack when the file is loaded, and created event tracking for each button. So I could create a funnel to see how users interact with flash around my site. When a page loads, when a flash file loads, and whether that user interacts with the flash file. The game is a number guessing game; you need to guess a 5-digit code, which several codes have unique sound files attached to them. Each sound file is individually trackable, so to see which codes get used the most. All the sounds contained within the game have been created by several recording from the Javanese Gamelan set, which I then manipulated in various ways using spectral morphing, freezing, granulation and delays to get various effects.
The Gamelan is very similar to the Kulintangan and since more than three quarters of Borneo is part of Indonesia which they call Kalimantan, there might well have been free exchanges of these instruments between Sabah and Kalimantan. Moreover, the Royal House of Brunei also used the Gamelan/Kulintangan very extensively for royal ceremonial purposes, much in the same way as the royal families of Java (especially the erstwhile Sultanate of Jogjakarta) and of course of the sultanate states of Malaysia, used them – even to this day.
Where the two instruments diverge is in the number of kettle gongs used and how they are performed: Gamelan music is more formal and structured within a set of tones and time intervals and there are a maximum of 6 gongs; whereas the Kulintangan has invariably a larger collection of kettle gongs numbering up to 10 [but not necessarily all used] and of course its music is more flexible with improvisation being more prevalent. The Kulitangan kettle gongs are arranged in a row on a wooden pallet sub-divided into compartments of two gongs each. The beater sits crossed leg in front and uses both hands to beat them in a rhythmic sequence. Each set of two gongs produce sounds of varying pitches, from high to low [bass] notes. A drummer provides the tempo as well as the bass for the overall music.
On the other hand, the Gamelan, when used at royal functions in Peninsular Malaysia and Jogjakarta, is usually strung up from a specially constructed and intricately carved wooden stand and is almost always accompanied by a set of wind instrument not dissimilar to an oboe.
As alluded to above, the Gamelan is used for most royal ceremonial occasions by the rulers of nine of the states of Peninsular Malaysia. But the Kulintangan has remained almost exclusively in the Borneo territories including Sabah, Brunei and Sarawak, although the royal families of Jolo in southern Philippines have also used it . However, apart from Brunei, there are no formal royal occasions at which the Kulintangan is used in Sabah and Sarawak. Hence in Sabah, it is brought out at every festival, wedding and public occasion and played alongside the iconic “Gongs”, to provide a solid “backing” or as accompaniment to the overall cacophony of sounds, rhythm, tempo, percussion, melody and bass.
Unlike the Gongs, the Kulintangan requires only a maximum of two players to beat (1) the drum,and (2) all the nine or 10 “kettle” gongs with both hands. A really good and experienced Kulintangan player can play all the gongs singlehandedly non-stop for the duration of a dance (up to 30minutes). The second person is used only to “man” the drum to provide the tempo and bass-effect.
In my ancestral home of Sabah, the Gongs are the de-facto musical instruments of the Kadazan-Dusun tribes. They are used for both happy occasions such as weddings, festivals (Harvest Festival) and “sad” occasions such as sacrificial ceremonies (prayers to ancestral spirits and ghosts) and deaths. The Kulintangan is mainly used to accompany the Gongs at happy occasions although they have been known to have been used for sacrificial ceremonies occasions.
When used for happy occasions, the gongs are robustly beaten to give a “bouncy” and happy sound. The beating of the Kulintangan is usually made in tangent to the beating of the gongs and the overall effect is of what I would call a happy abandonment of rhythmic, brassy and seriously loud sound. However, when the gong is used to announce a death or during the “wake” [ gongs are beaten twice a day- once early in the morning and once at night- while the dead is “lying-in-state” prior to burial], the beat is completely different from the “festival beat” and of course the Kulintangan is never used on such occasions.
Due to the absence of a set of Gongs for experimentation, (lthough I am aware that there are many Kadazan-Dusun people residing in the UK, including my father, who are expert at beating the gongs), I have to make do with the nearest instruments that are used by my ancestors. This is the Gamelan which has similar sized kettle gongs to the Kulitangan and the minimum number for a Kulitangan set.
Behind the hide is the codes for each of the sound files.