A Gamelan is an ensemble of instruments originating from Indonesia. The majority of Gamelan instruments are percussive, and most of these are bronze. They include xylophone-like metallophones of different sizes and pitch, tuned gong chimes, very large pitched gongs, and an assortment of drums and percussion. There are many types of Gamelan ensembles, but the two dominant types are Javanese and Balinese. Balinese Gamelan has a characteristic ‘shimmering’ sound which is due to the detuning of paired instruments playing the same musical part.
Although Gamelan music has been around for centuries (there is evidence of instruments existing before 800 AD), it is very much a living music in Indonesia, and is growing in popularity in the west. Styles keep evolving and new Gamelan music is being written all the time. Balinese “Gong Kebyar”, a particularly flamboyant style, has dominated much of the century and is probably Bali’s most famous export.
Gamelan music is very much about the collective – it has been described as ‘a negotiation between musicians’. Many of the musicians play interlocking parts, in which alternate notes are shared between two instruments. This technique enables the ensemble to play incredibly fast passages.
WHICH INSTRUMENTS ARE INCLUDED?
How do you condense such a massive collection as a gamelan into an easy-to-use, downloadable sampled instrument? We scratched our heads over this one for a while, and decided to condense the essential gamelan sound into 3 plug-and-play sets. This means that you get all the tuned instruments ( reduced versions ) – the big gongs, the wonderful paired metallophones and the kettle gongs, combined and arranged across a chromatic keyboard, ready to play. What you DON’T get is the percussion – the kendang drums, cengceng, kempli, kajar, bebende, gentorak. This set still weighs in at 2 GB, and is ideal for anyone that wants the essence of gamelan, the magical flavour – without breaking the bank or the hard drive.