About the Gamelan

The Balinese Gamelan are the traditional instruments and music found on the island of Bali, Indonesia. Gamelan can refer to both music from Bali, and music from Java.  As seen in the clip below, Balinese music places a heavy emphasis on fast, very intricate parts. This music is played to accompany every important aspects of life, births, weddings, funerals, etc. Balinese Gamelan is based around a gong cycle, which functions as the back bone of the ensemble. Gamelan music is in this way cyclical, looping sections until a signal is given to move to the next cycle.

Gamelan music is taught without the aid of notation, students are taught their parts by watching and listening to others play. It is centered around the idea of collaborative music, the piece will not work unless everyone listens to each other and works together. Gamelan music personifies the idea of the importance of the group over the individual.

The Bucknell Gamelan performs a mix of traditional and newly composed pieces for the Balinese Gamelan. To learn more about the Gamelan ensemble at Bucknell University, contact Professor Bethany Collier.