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What is a Gamelan?

A Gamelan is a ceremonial Indonesian orchestra made up of gongs and metallophones. In Indonesia they are used to accompany shadow puppet plays known as 'Wayang'. Gamelan music is heard playing on the radio and many mobile phone ringtones are based on popular Gamelan tunes.

Although there are many separate instruments in a Gamelan orchestra it's really one instrument with many players. Each player learns to play all the individual instruments but then specialises in one or two. It's very much a collective and cooperative way of playing music with no player being seen as more important than another. In short, you can't play the Gamelan on your own!

At its very simplest, a basic Gamelan tune can be learnt in about an hour but it can take a lifetime to master the intricate complexities of Gamelan playing at its highest level.