The concept of pathet in Central Javanese gamelan music
Pathet, one of the most important elements of Central
Javanese amelan music making, is a kind of 'musical quality'
which is often related to the concept of mode in Western music.
There are two kinds of tuning system operative in gamelan
music, namely slendro and pelog. The Javanese distinguish three
pathet in each system: pathet manyura, pathet sanga and pathet
nem in slendro, and pathet lima, pathet nem and pathet barang in
Some attempts at explaining the concept of pathet have been
made by both Western and Indonesian theorists and indeed their
theories have succeeded in identifying some characteristics of
each pathet. The characteristics thus identified, however, are
often too general or too specific and consequently are unable to
predict the pathet of a given melody reliably.
In exploring the concept of pathet, the present study
gathers the materials of musical phenomena which are agreed by
native musicians as being strong or even invariable in terms of
impressions of pathet and constructs them into a theory. It
introduces a method of analysis for Javanese gamelan music based
on the structure of melodic sentences, phrases, and figures,
taking into account contour, content, and context.
The impressions of pathet are felt when a melody is being
performed and in fact an impression of a particular pathet is
established in the musicians' and listeners' minds by three interdependent aspects: contours, content and contexts of the
melody constituents - melodic figures, phrases and sentences.
Through the interlocking of these three aspects the process of
establishment, further growth, consolidation and change of pathet
in the musicians' minds and their performances are described