Gamelan music

Changing the blogs up a bit recently!

Technology in the classroom is essential! However, a human touch never go amiss!


Today I have been blessed with an interview wit a new type of music that I have not come across before  music! Additionally, it can be incorporated into technology in the classroom.


Please note musician name has been omitted for various reasons, blogging is a public sphere.

What is Gamelan?

Gamelan is a type of music from Indonesia that  is from a particular island from javanese, central Javenes. It’s a very specific type of music as its regional music.

It’s played on a percussive instrument but is tuned. To a western ideology its gongs and xylophones but actually it’s tuned percussion played with mallets and gongs


The music is played by an orchestra (group of musicians) but is usually played for puppets.

Did you say puppets?

Yes, wayang (puppet show) is used for ritual and ceremonies and the gamelan accompanies.

Wow. Can you tell us anything more about the Gamelan?

Each set is made specifically thus no two Gamelans are tuned the same. Also, each Gamelan has its own birthday.


You cannot wear shoes when playing the Gamelan as you have to show a huge amount of respect due to the nature of each gamelan being unique.

How are Gamelan made?

Gamelan are made by people who are trained in hand carving and decorating. This makes them even more special to play and listen to.

making of a Gamelan.jpg

They don’t use western tuning. They use a slender and pelog   tuning system – to tune the instrument.


You can play by pitch. It’s not what you would be used to. A Gong marks the end of each phrase so you have to pay attention to the Gong.

Is it difficult to play if you’re playing by pitch?

Yes, it’s difficult as it’s not 4 or 8 beats.  Arguably you are meant to be able to play every Gamelan – theoretically you should be able to change instruments and play any in the room as you learn by listening.

Nice when you play – you play as a group and pay attention to each person – listen to their part, your part. It can lead to improv sessions.


Generally men play the music and women do the puppets.

Oh! Why is this?

Songs are difficult for women to sing due to the fact that they traditionally they have been tuned for male voices thus this has created challenges for western countries learning Gamelan as female voices are higher.

How would you promote this in a school?

Learn music from a different culture, not only because it’s fun. Today’s world is changing and mixing. Though Gamelan doesn’t sound necessarily right on the ears due to different tuning systems – it can be a little flat or sharp. It’s also a good way to appreciate music of a different culture is to play it as it opens up people to understanding.

Caption for promoting this in a school could be “Not reject but embrace”.


If you wish to listen to Gamelan – try this!






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