10 Decorative Musical Instruments in Bali

Music is part of a set of artistic manifestations that make up Indonesian culture and the essence of Bali. Sound is present in dances , theaters , orchestras and ceremonies celebrating the arts and cultural and religious traditions of the island. The musical instruments themselves are produced with an artistic bias valued by the manual process, whose colorful paintings personalize the pieces and give new meanings, in addition to the musical context .

Wood, gourd, coconut and bamboo are the main raw materials for handcrafted wind and percussion instruments developed in Bali. In addition to enhancing the sound, they give a rustic style to the structures of the instruments that sometimes constitute the finish, giving a special tone to the carved sculpture and sometimes are adorned with colors through abstract or figurative art with pointillism .

We have already discussed here the uniqueness and importance of the gamelan orchestra in Indonesia and how this cultural heritage is valued and represented in other forms of art such as interior decoration . Now we present 10 most popular instruments that are not necessarily part of the traditional local culture of Bali, but are made and hand-painted by Balinese artisans with the same refinement as if they were.

1) Kalimba - African lamellophone instrument

The fingered idiophone Kalimba or Mbira is considered a divine gift in African culture.

The magic of African origin , specifically the Shona tradition of Zimbabwe , is felt in each note of the lamellophone , constituted with a set of metal blades or lamellae, originally called Mbira . Categorized as a pinched idiophone , since the sound is produced by the body when plucked , Kalimba has a divine essence due to its use in rituals of worship of ancestral spirits .

The Kalimba 's sonority is as delicate as the small size of the musical instrument suggests. While the lamellas and the popularization as “ thumb piano ” suggest the way it is played, the body made of coconut shell and the artistic painting with mystical symbols such as the gecko show particularities of the culture of Bali that elevate the African instrument . to the status of a work of art to customize the most diverse environments.

2) Petir - Musical instrument with thunder sound effect

The thunder drum produces a sound effect when it is shaken and the spring vibrates converting energy into sound.

The uniqueness of the Petir ( thunder tube ) is as great as the human ability to create an instrument that reproduces a sound as unique and powerful as thunder is admirable. Composed of a wooden tube and a flexible spring interspersed with a membrane, the “ thunder drum ” produces a sound effect of variable intensity when it is continuously shaken causing the spring to vibrate which converts energy into sound.

The color painting in pointillism customizes the surface of the drum in an original way and enriches the possible simplicity of the instrument . Tribal patterns, abstract designs and representations of everyday Balinese animals such as lizards and turtles are the main themes of pictorial art and give special touches to handmade and exotic decorations .

3) Maracá - Indigenous rattle instrument

Macarás are instruments of power used in shamanism for healing and energy cleansing.

Although it is best known in the Latin American and Afro-Cuban musical context, this percussion instrument is also an essential part of indigenous rituals and shamanic practices. The undefined origin, estimated among the Mapuche (or Araucanos ) indigenous peoples of Chile and the Tainos - native Indians of Puerto Rico - does not minimize the beauty, magnitude and ritualistic property of the shamanic rattles called Maracás .

This gourd shaking idiophone is a precious instrument of power for energy cleansing. Through it, Balinese artisans remind us that all art, whether visual, sound or both, like this one, has the power to heal . So, have no doubt that it is worth having it in the environment to keep the body in balance with its rhythmic vibration.

4) Tambourine - Percussion half-moon tambourine

The Pandeirola produces a smooth, flowery sound as beautiful as its rustic style.

The pandeiro is one of the oldest percussion musical instruments and has its origins in ancient Egypt. It was present in several ancient civilizations and in Aboriginal culture with varied structures and purposes, being especially appreciated in dances, celebrations and religious contexts. One of the most charming versions of this instrument, whose sound is produced by means of metal platinelas (or floorboards), is the Pandeirola or “ Meia Lua ”, as it is known.

In addition to the pleasant sound, which is smooth and flowery , the rustic wooden frame carved in an ergonomic and semicircular shape - considering the position of the hand - brings personality to the handcrafted instrument . The difficult thing will be to keep it in the decoration all the time, as you will always be impelled to touch it, such is the beauty and excellence of the combination of style and performance .

5) Pio - Indigenous whistle with the sound of a bird singing

Pio is a whistle that reproduces the chirping of a bird to connect us to it.

The deeply human desire to communicate with nature is the basis of this indigenous whistle , originally used in rituals . The sound similar to Pio 's chirping establishes a connection between us and the birds , which even the whistle could not accomplish. The simplicity of both the bamboo structure and the sound produced makes this wind instrument a unique and poetic art.

She shows that you don't need many tricks to be in tune with the fauna, flora and everything that is natural. This concept is also present in the art and culture of Bali , which are represented in this Pio in handmade painting - revering the Aboriginal ethnic essence . A different piece to decorate spaces and give new meaning to the concept of ancestry .

6) Shamanic drum - Musical and ritualistic instrument

The cadenced sound of the Tambor de Quadro induces a state of trance in shamanic practices.

In shamanic culture, the Tambor de Quadro ( frame drum ) enables the induction of trance states during rituals, establishing a spiritual connection through cadenced sound. Also called the Shamanic Drum , in reference to ritualistic practices, it is a membranophone percussion instrument, whose sound is made by the vibration of the membrane that covers the wooden frame .

The tradition of percussing rituals with drums , as well as rattles , is one of the most common shamanic methods of accessing the power of vibrational energy . The beats on the frame drum produce a therapeutic rhythm that connects with ancestry and elevates the energy of the environment promoting fertility, healing and balance.

7) Djembe - African drum percussion instrument

rustic-wood-carved-djembe-baline drum
Djembê originates from the Bambara words “Dje” and “bê” which mean “gather” and “peace”.

The fascination provoked by this African drum is as great as its value in West African history. Although there is no definite historical record, due to oral tradition, two origins are suggested for the Djembe : through the African tribe Mandinka (current Guinea and Mali) and the Bambara ethnic group . (present-day Mali). In the latter there is a belief that the ancient jebe barra (as the drum was originally called) had the purpose of unity, since it was created from the saying “ Anke dje, anke be .” which means “ All gather together in peace .”.

Traditionally, the Djembe is a ritualistic instrument, carved in one piece with a chalice -shaped body covered with animal skin. And just like the purpose, the manufacture of the drum is also a spiritual ritual , since there is a conviction that it is formed by three spirits (the tree that provided the wood, the animal that provided the skin and the craftsman who manufactured it). . Therefore, touching or inserting this African art in the decoration promotes integration with the whole.

8) Recorder - Medieval wind instrument

The Recorder is also called the Bevel Flute due to its structure with blowing opening, beak and window.

The oldest wind instrument always has room to give that exclusive touch to the environment or set music to the most special meetings with the delicacy of the sound it produces. The history of the flute begins in China, 900 AD, and was disseminated in Europe during the Middle Ages, a period that became popular. The design, as well as the way to play it, flourished over the centuries and gave rise to different variations such as the Recorder .

The melodious sound of the Bisel Flute , another denomination of this instrument applied due to the superior format of its structure, formed by a blowhole, beak and window. The beauty of the sound is coordinated with the sui generis art of Indonesian artisans who incorporate abstract paintings of infinite colors.

9) Didgeridoo - Aboriginal instrument that evokes ancestry

The Didgeridoo is a sacred instrument associated with the Australian aboriginal worldview.

It is estimated that this Australian Aboriginal instrument was present throughout the history of indigenous culture , which is approximately 40,000 years old, associated with the Aboriginal cosmovision with the Dreamtime belief . According to Bill Harney , in the book “ Didgeridoo: Ritual Origins and Playing Techniques ”, one of the beliefs narrates the encounter of three gods in the form of birds ( Giddabush , Butcher and Piwi ) who played the Didgeridoo to name all things in the world.

This and other ancient stories promoted the perception of the Didgeridoo as a fundamental sacred instrument in the creation of the world. Respect for this divine essence is maintained in the pieces produced in Indonesia , which can be found in even more original versions such as serpent and snail (or spiral) stylized with the pointillism painting technique.

10) Pan flute - Horizontal wind musical instrument

The Pan Flute gets its name because it is associated with the Greek god Pan, patron saint of shepherds.

Generally linked to Andean culture , the Pan Flute ( Panpipe or Syrinx ) was a wind instrument widely used by ancient Greek shepherds 3,000 years before the Common Era; mainly because it is related to the god Pan , patron saint of shepherds. According to Greek folklore , Pan fell in love with the nymph Syrinx , who fled and asked Zeus for help. He turned it into a reed which was soon broken by Pan in revolt. Repenting, Pan put its parts together and turned it into a flute.

In this style of transverse flute , bamboo is the most common raw material, reinforcing its artisanal aspect. Standing, it can color wall decor or fill small spaces in furniture as a treasured work of art that has traveled through time and space.

Now that you can evaluate which wind or percussion instrument is most in tune with your essence, you will be able to find in our virtual store not only musical instruments from Indonesia , but also from Brazil and Peru . And best of all: they are unique pieces , made especially for you.


Milene Sousa - Art & Tune

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