ABC to Gamelan

Glossary of Terms:

  • Balungan: Skeleton (core) melody. 
  • Dhalang: Master puppeteer. 
  • Gamelan: Refers to both the Indonesian percussion orchestra and the type of music played on it.
  • Gendhing: Composition or piece - can also refer to a specific form of piece.
  • Gérong: Chorus of male vocalists.
  • Karawitan: Gamelan music.
  • Kepatihan: Javanese cipher notation used for gamelan music.
  • Klenengan: Meeting of musicians to play gamelan together for enjoyment or to mark a celebration or special occasion.
  • Kraton: Javanese Palace.
  • Pélog: Tuning system with 7 notes per octave.
  • Pendhapa: Indonesian Pavilion (With a roof and supporting columns but no walls.
  • Pengrawit: Skilled gamelan musician.
  • Pesindhèn: Solo female vocalist.
  • Sléndro: Tuning system with 5 notes per octave.
  • Wayang Kulit: Shadow-puppet theatre.




  • Becker, Judith: Traditional Music in Modern Java. Honolulu: The University Press of Hawaii, 1980.
  • Brinner, Benjamin:  Knowing Music, Making Music: Javanese Gamelan and the Theory of
  • Musical Competence and Interaction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.
  • Lindsay, Jennifer: Javanese Gamelan. 2nd.ed. Kualalumpur: Oxford University Press, 1992.
  • Perlman, Marc: Unplayed Melodies: Javanese Gamelan and the Genesis of Music Theory.
  • University of California Press, 2004.
  • Pickvance, Richard: A Gamelan Manual: A Player's Guide to the Central Javanese Gamelan.
  • London, Jaman Mas Books, 2006.
  • Sorrell, Neil.: A Guide to the Gamelan. London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1990.
  • Sumarsam: Gamelan: Cultural Interaction and Musical Development in Central Java. Chicago,
  • University of Chicago Press, 1995.

General Introduction to the Gamelan and useful weblinks:


Southbank Gamelan Players

American Gamelan Institute

Wells Cathedral School Virtual Gamelan: