If one asks a dhalang (which we did), pathet means "act", as in an act of a play. In the performance of a wayang, the action is divided into three large sections. Each section has its own distinct repetoire. The first section of the wayang is accompanied by music in pathet nem, the second section uses music in pathet sanga, and in the last section, music in pathet manyuro is played.
But music theorists are seldom content with such definitions. What makes the music of these "acts" different from one another? Many theorist, both Javanese and Western, have spent many years writing many books on the subject. We won't pretend to have any authority here, but one can often see differences in the types of balungan patterns that lead up to a gong. Each pathet has two standard cadential progressions, one more common, the other somewhat less so.
|Pathtet||Primary Cadential Pattern||Secondary Cadential Pattern|
|Nem||6 5 3 2||2 3 5 6|
|Sanga||1 2 6 5||5 6 1 2|
|Manyuro||3 2 1 6||6 1 2 3|