Music – Balinese Gamelan

Students have the opportunity to join the University’s Balinese Gamelan. The 20 instruments, that originate from Bali in Indonesia, are made of bronze, wood and bamboo and are built and tuned to be played together as an orchestra. The collection of metallophones, gongs, drums and cymbals produce a unique rhythmical vibrating sound, full of overtones, harmonics and sympathetic beats. The repertoire is varied from loud, flamboyant and dramatic pieces to quieter, contemplative arrangements. 

Music students will gain so much in immersing themselves in music of other cultures, where the scales, structures, notation systems and use of music as a social practice differ so radically to their own.

Students from all other faculties can also benefit from the group and welcome to join. Research around playing gamelan has shown that it aids wellbeing and helps participants feel happier and more settled, whilst encouraging creativity and supporting self-reflection. 

The Gamelan rehearses with Plymouth’s Balinese Gamelan specialist, Saj Collyer on Wednesday afternoons 13:30–15:30 in the Rolle Building Room 15. Membership is free for students.

Any queries please contact Saj by email: saj.collyer@plymouth.ac.uk

Due to the structure of Balinese gamelan music compositions, the gamelan group can offer exciting multi-level musical experiences to a wide range of abilities. Few musical groups can offer this range of accessibility. The ensemble learns pieces aurally, so participants do not need to be able to read music; however, values of harmony, interdependence and balance in ensemble playing are assimilated through participation. Parts can be very simple, or very complex depending on each participant’s placement in the group. In the simpler parts, the playing of the gongs, for example, with their incredible deep sonorities offer markers for the rest of the group to stay closely in time with each other. At the other end of the complexity scale, principles of interlocking- where two more simple parts fit closely together to create a faster, more complicated rhythmic melody- are often used in Balinese gamelan music. This is a thrilling experience for the players as they musically lock together to create an impression of speed through cooperation.

Saj Collyer – Gamelan tutor


Balinese Gamelan
Balinese Gamelan
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Balinese Gamelan
Balinese Gamelan