Gamelan Music

The Trust is very pleased to be able to house this unique instrument, on permanent loan from Music Partnership North. We intend to establish a Gamelan user group, which will enable the Trust to work with groups, including schools to bring this fabulous instrument to life.

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 & Java, the two styles differ but are based on the same principles.

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.

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).