Bristol Community Gamelan

Gamelan music equipment. photo taken By User: Sengkang - Own work, Copyrighted free use,
Gamelan music equipment. photo taken By User: Sengkang – Own work, Copyrighted free use,

We keep on talking about Gamelan music and who will be performing at our Indonesian Iconic Dishes and Folk Tales Festival in Bristol, but we never talk about what Gamelan is and how the music sounds.

Gamelan is a term used to describe various type of indigenous orchestra played exclusively in Indonesia, as a matter of fact it is the main element of Indonesian Traditional Music played mostly in Java and Bali.   Each gamelan instrument is slightly different to each of the other instruments, which is the  base of different instrumental group for specific orchestral functions. The instruments in a gamelan orchestra are composed of sets of tuned bronze gongs, gong-chimes, metallophones, drums, one or more flutes, bowed and plucked string instruments and sometimes singers. In some villages, gamelan, bronze is sometime replaced by  iron, wood or bamboo.

Traditionally Gamelan is only played on certain occasions such as ritual ceremonies, special community celebrations, shadow puppet shows and for royal families in Java (especially) and Bali. Gamelan also used to accompany dancers, royal courts, temples, and village rituals.

Today, although gamelan music is still in use for the above ceremonies, it also performed at social and cultural gatherings to welcome guests and audiences.

For more information, check out Wikipedia.


The Bristol Community Gamelan.

Bristol obtained gamelan instruments in 1990’s, when a far-sighted Head of Music at Cotham School saw the possibilities it offered for easily involving children in music-making as well as giving them the opportunity to study an aspect of ‘world music’.

Bristol Community Gamelan performing in Bath Spa
Bristol Community Gamelan performing in Bath Spa

Luckily, an ex-Cotham student, Jenny Heaton had studied gamelan in Java and set up Bristol Community Gamelan as part of the school’s community arts programme.  Under her guidance and later that of John Pawson, Bristol Community Gamelan has been involved in performances in Bristol.

They have also, in conjunction with Cardiff & Bath Spa Gamelan performed at the Welsh Proms, the Gamelanathon at the South Bank in London, the Gathering of Gamelans in York to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1st purchase of a gamelan by a British university and at Bath Spa University with internationally acclaimed Balinese dancers, Ni Made Pujawati and Dewin Ariati.

Various members of Bristol Community Gamelan have studied in Bali and Java, including the dancer Gill Roberts, who has performed with London’s Balinese gamelan Lila Cita and the South Bank Gamelan players.

If interested in learning more about gamelan, please contact Keith on +44 117 9444241 or at



2016 Indonesian Iconic Dishes & Folk Tales is also about the sound of Indonesia, thus at the festival we are honoured to present to you the Bristol Gamelan Community performing the enchanting sound of Gamelan.


1 comment on “Bristol Community Gamelan

  1. Pingback: Performing at The 2017 Event | BRISTOL INDONESIAN SOCIETY

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