The 20 instruments, that originate from Indonesia, are made of bronze and are built and tuned to be played together as an orchestra. They produce a unique rhythmical vibrating sound, allowing a variety of music to be played ranging from louder, flamboyant and dramatic pieces to quieter, contemplative arrangements. Music lecturer Mike McInerney, of the School of Humanities and Performing Arts, visited Bali recently to choose the instruments and traditional costumes for the University's new ensemble. Plymouth is one of only around half a dozen universities in Britain to have the equipment, which cost around £15,000 to buy.
"It is essential that our students experience music from sources other than western cultures and understand that the ways people think about music differ around the world. The new Balinese Gamelan produces unique rhythmical, magical sounds. 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. This tradition – a classical music rooted in rhythm and aural learning – enables our students to meet on a common ground and, during the course of their studies, develop levels of musicianship that might not have occurred otherwise. The Balinese style is a living tradition that is still evolving rapidly. It is this vitality that has made Balinese music so popular in the Western world today."
Around 100 students will learn to play the instruments as part of their studies – and some are expected to take part in weekly ensembles decked out in full traditional colourful clothing, including crowns, sarongs and tunics.
The Gamelan rehearses on Tuesday evenings 18:00–20:00 in the Rolle Building Room 15. Membership is free for students.
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