Gamelan has for centuries been a prominent music of certain Indonesian islands (most notably, Java and Bali), central to the temple, the court, and the daily lives of the people. Gamelan encompasses a number of different musical forms, each differing in melodic structure, instrumentation, region, language, and performance contexts. The word "gamelan" also refers to the instruments of a gamelan ensemble.

Gamelan ensembles are usually percussion-oriented and include gongs, drums (kendhang), bar-shaped metallophones (saron, gender, slentem), and cymbals made of iron and bronze. Flutes (suleng) and stringed instruments (rebab, cither, celempung) may also be included.

Gamelan ensembles sometimes perform without any additional visual component, or are integrated into dance dramas and shadow-puppet theatre, known as wayang kulit. Wayang kulit is often an all-night experience, featuring stories of the Ramayana infused with modern political commentary, sung by the pupeteer (dalang) in the national language of Indonesia (bahasa Indones) as well as local dialects and sometimes even English (if there is a large American or Australian contingent in the crowd).

Gamelan became popular outside Java and Bali during the 1930s World Fairs, when ensembles performed for European and American audiences that included composers such as Debussy, Britten, and Poulenc. With the advent of the academic discipline of ethnomusicology (particularly as practiced at UCLA by scholars such as Ki Mantle Hood), sets of instruments were brought to the West and Americans and Europeans began practicing gamelan. Currently, there are hundreds of active gamelans outside of Indonesia, and festivals all over the world featuring gamelan music have become a popular forum for gamelan aficionados.

  • Balinese Gamelan Rhythms Training exercises and MIDI files.
  • Central Javanese Gamelan An introduction to the music with reviews of recommended recordings.
  • Cornell Gamelan Ensemble Information on the ensemble, and brief introduction to wayang kulit.
  • Evergreen Club Gamelan Canadian gamelan group. Includes concert and recording information.
  • Explore the World of Gamelan An introduction to the gamelan of Java and Bali with audio samples and photographs, origins and spread to other areas, comparisons with other music, instruments and ensembles, dictionary, and lists of gamelan CDs, books, and links. In French and English.
  • Gamelan - Wikipedia Introduction to gamelan in Java, Bali, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
  • Gamelan Anak Swarasanti Balinese gamelan orchestra based in San Francisco. Schedule of upcoming performances, slide shows of past performances, discography with audio samples, player profiles, and articles.
  • Gamelan in Australia and New Zealand Profiles of gamelan groups, recordings, courses, mailing list, and links.
  • Gamelan Mitra Kusuma A Balinese gamelan based in Washington, DC, presents information on the instruments, audio samples, performance schedule, classes, and a mailing list.
  • Gamelan Naga Mas A community group playing classical Javanese and Balinese music and modern compositions; information about their performances and events, background on the music, and their education activities. [Glasgow, Scotland]
  • Gamelan Semara Santi of Swarthmore College Information about gamelan in general, including audio clips, and about Swarthmore's gamelan program and how to join.
  • Gamelan Sinar Surya (Santa Barbara) A Santa Barbara-based organization dedicated to preservation, teaching and performing traditional Gamelan music of Indonesia and Malaysia. Photo gallery and mp3 samples from their first CD.
  • Gamelan-L Mailing List This list is for anyone with a scholarly, artistic, or practical interest in gamelan. Archives available.
  • Gendhing Jawa Javanese Gamelan notation [PDF].
  • Hastings Gamelan Society Information about adult and pupil groups, based in the UK. Includes information about performances, membership, recordings, and news.
  • Lila Cita Founded (as Kembang Kirang) in 1992 (by Andy Channing, director of the LSO gamelan education programme) to perform Balinese gamelan music. Information about performances, workshops, personnel, and associated dance group. [UK]
  • Metalworks Gamelan A gamelan with eight members, with backgrounds in jazz, Latin American, experimental, Baroque, Indian pop, and contemporary classical music; information about their recordings, workshops and performances. [Berkshire, UK]
  • One People Voice One People Voice, based in Oakland, CA, is a hybrid processional orchestra and chant ensemble, utilizing gongs and drums from Bali which are interwoven with other world and western instruments. Includes information on their kids program, workshop schedule, guestbook, and photo gallery.
  • Pusaka Sunda San Jose, California based gameland degung ensemble with audio samples, discography and ordering information, artists profiles, performance schedule, and workshops.
  • Sekar Enggal An ensemble based in London, which performs several kinds of Sundanese music; information about their performances, workshops, and contact details. [UK]
  • South Bank Gamelan Players Ensemble-in-residence at the Royal Festival Hall, working closely with dancers, puppeteers and composers from Indonesia, Europe and the USA; includes profile, repertoire, education activities, and performance schedule. [London, UK]
  • The Gamelans of the Kraton Yogyakarta Article by Roger Vetter.
  • UK Gamelan Information An information source for people interested in Indonesian performing arts in the UK; includes news, events, gamelan in education, discography, and a links listing.
  • Wesleyan Gamelan Ensemble Taught by Sumarsam and Pak Harjito. MP3 Sound samples and an introduction to gamelan syllabus (PDF format).


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