Gamelan refers to large ensembles of mostly bronze percussion instruments, and to the most prominent traditional music from Indonesia. Gamelan’s presence at Cornell offers a window into a truly majestic musical form as well as an entrée to the study of the fourth most populous nation in the world.
The instruments at Cornell are a Central Javanese set, believed to have been forged in the late 1950s by the Mangkunegaran Gamelan Factory in the old court city of Surakarta. They were brought to the United States in 1964 for the New York World’s Fair, and to Cornell in 1975. Previously on long-term loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ownership was transferred to the Department of Music in 2021. The instruments are housed and used for instruction in a dedicated room, B24, in Lincoln Hall. They can be heard in regular public performances by the Cornell Gamelan Ensemble.
Cornell’s gamelan is a medium-sized slendro-pelog set, tumbuk 6, comprising: the original four saron (demung, two saron barung, peking) augmented by an additional demung and peking, and a saron sanga; bonang and bonang panerus; kendhang kali, ciblon, and sabet; ten kenong; kethuk-kempyang; six kempul; two gong ageng and two gong suwukan. For more about gamelan at Cornell, see the website of the Cornell Gamelan Ensemble.