Gamelan is the name for a large tuned percussion orchestra from Indonesia. The Balinese gamelan presented on this website is a gamelan Semara Dana, which comprises bronze gongs, gong-chimes, metallophones, cymbals and drums, requiring about 25 players. Semara Dana (meaning 'generous love') is a hybrid between the modern Gong Kebyar (meaning 'to flare up', referring to the explosive changes in tempo and dynamics) and the older, rarer Semar Pegulingan. Unlike Gong Kebyar, gamelan Semara Dana uses the full 7-tone pelog scale. In traditional cyclic pieces, larger metallophones play the core melody, which is punctuated by various gongs and embellished (with interlocking melodic and rhythmic patterns) by smaller metallophones and gong-chimes. The ensemble is led by a pair of drums, augmented by small cymbals. The metallophones are played in pairs with one tuned slightly higher than the other, causing an acoustic beating, which, reproduced throughout the several octaves of the gamelan, results in the brilliant shimmering sonority characteristic of Balinese gamelan music.
Explore the instruments in LSO's collection by clicking on their names below.
Hear what they sound like by clicking on the keys. Make sure you have your volume up!
Listen to a real expert play:
It usually takes a whole group of people to play a Gamelan. In our App, you can play it online and compose your own melodies. Give it a go!
The app is only suitable to play on desktops. If you are using a mobile device your experience will be extremely limited. Please make sure your browser is up to date before proceeding. Let's compose!