The music of the gamelan is an equally rich and complex tradition. Like dance it makes itself accessible to a variety of skill levels. There are roles for those who have become experts, and there are places for someone else who just wants to hit a gong. It is a user friendly orchestra.

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If dance is a series of related movements, music is a series of related cycles. Gamelan music can be written out as a sequence of numbers, which is in fact one method this music is taught. The different sequences of the music are written as strings of numbers on a blackboard in the wantilan where the music is rehearsed.


Deliberate and stately musical passages end in a rich gong, and then stretch out into a different rhythm and speed altogether. The music is complex and multilayered, at the same time you can hear sharpness and honey, flowing fields full of sparks. The two drummers are the leaders of the ensemble, tight and businesslike they link together into an interlocking pattern of sound that pulls the gamelan along.