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UT Balinese Gamelan

The Indonesian term gamelan, more or less synonymous with the term “orchestra,” means “to hammer,” and refers to an ensemble of bronze metallophones, gongs, flutes, and drums, played by as few as 4 and as many as 40 people within dozens of different ensemble configurations. The music of the gamelan features an intricate blend of sonorities, structured and patterned in unique rhythmic and melodic systems.

Begun in the fall of 2015, the University of Tennessee’s Balinese gamelan is a gamelan semar pegulingan, a distinct “chamber orchestra” developed during the 13th-16th centuries and important within Balinese court life through the 19th century. Recently, its sonic characteristics, with its use of seven rather than four or five tones, has attracted renewed interest and created a revival for this kind of gamelan within Bali and beyond.

In addition to providing workshops on Bali, Indonesia, and gamelan performance for students and courses at the University, the UT Balinese gamelan has given concerts here at UT as well as in the area, most recently at the Celebrate Nashville Festival. The group is dedicated to studying the traditional music of Bali and Indonesia and to developing new works for gamelan from Balinese and American composers. Our membership draws from UT students, staff, and community and we welcome all; no experience necessary.

Contact Dr. Leslie Gay, Director, UT Balinese Gamelan, with any questions: lesgay@utk.edu

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