Balinese Gamelan Practice Session

A gamelan is a traditional ensemble of music instruments from Indonesia, from Java or Bali. It is sort of like an orchestra, but maybe not really in the strict sense as each instrument is not considered individual within the whole gamelan. All of the instruments together are considered as one instrument. This particular gamelan is from Bali but lives in the Museum of Music in Barcelona.

A friend of mine, Jordi, who is really passionate about gamelan, is the director of this gamelan. He has a group of fantastic musicians that practice the gamelan, and once in a while offer a performance. The next one will be on the 21st December, in case anyone will be around in Barcelona and is interested. Check out their facebook here. They are, up to this date, the only gamelan group in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula, (including Portugal). Recently he bought over a guest, a Balinese gamelan master, Made, who lives in Brussels. I learnt that there is a huge Balinese community in Brussels. They spent the whole weekend practicing gamelan with him, and I was excited to be able to come and snap away with my camera.

Gamelan museum of music Barcelona

Balinese gamelan class in Barcelona

Practicing gamelan

The xylophone featured in my mystery photo that many of you guessed, is technically a metallophone, which means that its bars are made of metal, as opposed to wood.



Balinese gamelan Barcelona

In western music we are used to a scale of seven notes with five semi-tones between them. In gamelan, a pentatonic scale is used. The names of the notes vary in accordance of the precise origin of the gamelan. In this Balinese gamelan the five notes are called: ding dong deng dung dang.

In Bali, everything is made into beautiful sculptures. As you can see, the gamelans are no exception.

Gamelan classes in Barcelona

Gamelan in Barcelona

Barcelona Gamelan

Museum of Music Barcelona

Barcelona Museum of Music

Gamelan tools

It wasn’t the first time I had listened to them play, or practice for the matter. They are a great group, but it was so great for Made to come over and teach further, teach them more ancestral Balinese musical knowledge.

Gamelan class

Gamelan practice

Balinese Gamelan in Barcelona

I was going to use this turtle photo for my previous mystery moment post. But I thought it might make you scratch your head and raise an eyebrow, lol.


Which is my favourite instrument from the gamelan? If I had to pick one it would be the gong. Next time I’ll request to to play it. When I was standing next to it to photograph it, each time the gong was struck, the most incredible sound wave came out of it. And I mean incredible, as if I could feel the expanding wave.

Gamelan gong

Hitting the gong

I’ll be going to the concert and will update if I manage to make a decent video. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Gamelan classes

Gamelan practice in Barcelona

Thank you Jordi and Made!

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  1. Guillermina Stover 2014-12-09 at 18:44

    Oh. My. Goodness. This quote certainly applies here, “The more and more I go, the less and less I know!” Beautiful INSTRUMENT and gorgeous sculptures, and WONDERFUL photography, Sofia! I would LOVE to hear this…wish I could fly to Barcelona on 21 December…sigh..

    1. Sofia 2014-12-12 at 00:12

      They are beautiful aren’t they Guillermina! Gosh I wish you could fly over too, sigh….

  2. Amanda 2014-12-10 at 19:31

    What an awesome post. Such cool instruments and so beautiful. Great photos. It’s so nice to see people who are so dedicated to their art form and people like you who appreciate it.

    1. Sofia 2014-12-12 at 00:11

      Thanks Amanda, I’m so glad you like it. They instruments are so beautiful, and I’m lucky that I’m a friend of this gamelan group and am allowed to just pop in and watch them anytime. How is winter going there in NY? xx

  3. pianolearner 2014-12-12 at 11:30

    A lovely post and some great photos. My favourite one is the closeup of the bells.

    We once went to Yorkshire sculpture park and they had a HUGE gong there in one of the rooms. I only tapped it lightly but it was so loud I could feel it through my whole body. I’m sure if I had properly whacked it all my internal organs would have turned to mush.

    1. Sofia 2014-12-12 at 12:00

      I like that photo too 🙂 Yeah the gongs are so impressive. Actually when they practice sometimes they use ear plugs, just so that they don’t all go mush 😉

  4. Dalo 2013 2014-12-13 at 06:57

    A very fine series of photos ~ I like how they put so much work into the beauty of the instrument ~ that carving is amazing. Are we going to be able to hear you play a little Chopin on this soon ?!?

    1. Sofia 2014-12-13 at 14:57

      Thanks Randy, have you been to Bali? Everything is like that there, beautiful sculptures everywhere!

      1. Dalo 2013 2014-12-14 at 02:30

        Never have, but I would really like to go to Bali ~ just a short flight from HK too. Hmmm, will make that happen in ’15 🙂 Enjoy your weekend!

        1. Sofia 2014-12-14 at 18:44

          You must go there! 🙂 and then tell me all about it.

          1. Dalo 2013 2014-12-15 at 02:39

            2015 ~ just pick a date and we can go there to photograph 🙂

            1. Sofia 2014-12-15 at 17:00

              And snorkel and… Lots of things to do!

              1. Dalo 2013 2014-12-17 at 17:06

                I’m already dreaming of the place 🙂 Seriously, I want to go their next year and as a ‘local’ you can show me around 🙂 It is amazing how much I have heard of the place and yet no Bali stamp in my passport. I also have Borneo on my list too! Enjoy the last week before Christmas ~

                1. Sofia 2014-12-20 at 17:52

                  You won’t have a Bali stamp, you’ll have an Indonesia stamp!!! 😉 Enjoy the weekend Randy! xx

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