Big Sing 4: “A Musical Journey Through The Land Of Shadows”

Big Sing RHEGED Oct 2017b


North Lakes

Haughton (Year Two) – their scene will invite us into the world of PIRATES!
complete with steel pan and calypso!

Afternoon Programme


Fun Singing Warm-up

Theme Song rehearsal

Soundtrack effects

While schools arrive, we will lead clapping and singing games that feed into the storyline.

All schools will have had the theme songs to learn, but we will go over it all together and get it really confident.
This is the point at which we will practise the cues for when we sing the songs

The soundtrack for the Musical Journey will be a mix of live and prerecorded music. Using our music software we can add live vocal effects from volunteers to go into our storyline.
We will collect sounds from our school visits and invite volunteers to the stage to add live sounds.
It is great fun hearing the voice processed into something other than natural and increases childrens awareness of future composition possibilities.

"A Musical Journey through the Land of Shadows"

A story told through song and poetry accompanied by the magical sounds of the Gamelan Orchestra and ambient soundtrack.

Theme Song

School World sections

Coming soon

Coming Soon

Theme song and individual school songs


All participating schools will receive an email when theme song resources are uploaded onto this page.

Javanese Gamelan Music


Gamelan is the word used to describe an Indonesian orchestra made up mainly of tuned percussion instruments.

The word ‘gamelan’ means ‘to hammer’. Gamelan music is found mainly in Bali and Java, the two styles differ but are based on the same principles.

Gamelan music:

  • has political and religious roots and plays an important part in sustaining traditional life
  • is heard at celebrations and theatre performances. It is used to accompany shadow puppet plays, poetry and drama
  • is not normally written down but passed on through oral tradition – players learn by mastering techniques and memorising the music
  • is played together as a group and emphasises community over individual values
  • Instruments

    A gamelan is a set of instruments consisting mainly of gongs, metallophones (instruments with rows of tuned metal bars that are struck with mallets) and drums. Some gamelans include bamboo flutes (suling), bowed strings (rebab) and vocalists. Each gamelan has a different tuning and the instruments are kept together as a set. No two gamelans are the same.

  • Structure

    The music is made up of interlocking layers. Each layer is played by a different instrument. The layers are usually based on a core melodic line called a balungan. The texture is heterophonic (made up of a main melody played at the same time as variants of it).

    Gamelan music is characterised by the following:

    • the lower the pitch, the longer the note values
    • the highest layers are for virtuoso solo instruments played very fast
    • the lowest gongs are often played by beginners
    • the music is divided into four beat groups called keteg
    • gongs of different sizes are used to mark cycles of music known as the gongan


      Two different tuning systems are used – slendro (a five-note scale) and pelog (a seven-note scale). Our gamelan uses the slendro scale. Tunings vary, but here are the approximate pitches: E Fsharp A B Csharp


      (from GCSE bitesize)


Javanese shadow puppets

Multi-coloured shadow puppet

The shadow puppet character ‘Durna’

Java is famous for its shadow puppet theatre, which dates back to the 11th century. In western Java the stories are adapted from the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, which travelled to Java from India.

The puppets are made from cured buffalo hide, the name for them, wayang kulit, means ‘shadow hide’. Puppet makers cut them out using stencils, with special chisels and knives and then mount them on to hinged rods of horn or bamboo so that the puppeteer can make their arms move. It takes at least ten days to make just one puppet.

The puppets are divided into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ characters. The puppet character shown above is ‘Durna’ from the Mahabharata. He has a mixture of good and bad qualities. He is a teacher, very clever, but sometimes also a plotter since he can hide his own thoughts and can easily flatter others, but he talks convincingly and can inspire great confidence. As you can see, he wears a distinctive diamond patterned jacket, making it easy for the audience to spot him.

(from the World Cultures gallery at World Museum, Liverpool)

About wayang kulit

Wayang kulit or shadow puppet theatre is a traditional art form from Indonesia and Malaysia. A solo puppeteer, known as a dhalang in Javanese, manipulates and provides voices for puppets cut from animal hide and painted on both sides. The shadows of these puppets fall on a white cotton screen. In Java, wayang performances are watched from both sides of the screen, as either a shadow show or a puppet show.

Performances in Java are accompanied by a full gamelan, which might have 15, 25 or more musicians. A typical performance begins at 7.30 or 8pm with a musical overture and runs until 3 am or later.  Most plays are based on the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics, which were imported from India to Java perhaps 1500 years ago. Dialogue is not written down, but largely extemporized based on oral formulae. Plays blend action, comedy, philosophy, romance and displays of statesmanship. Wayang kulit is so comprehensive in scope that it is described by many commentators as an encyclopaedia of Javanese culture. (from