Javanese gamelan


A gamelan is a traditional musical ensemble from Indonesia. It is a collective instrument, made up of elements which cannot be played separately; it combines different percussion devices (gongs, metallophones with bronze keys, and drums), to which may be added a bowed string instrument, a xylophone, a zither, a flute and voice.

Pieces from the gamelan repertoire offer melodic compositions which are shared out between the ten to fifteen players, whose parts are closely interlocked. The successful rendering of a piece thus results from a consensus: the perfect coordination of the musicians, each one only playing a tiny part of the melodic line. The repertoire is rich, complex and calls for virtuosity. But, because of this atomisation of the musical parts, gamelan is also a real laboratory of educational experimentation, allowing neophytes to come close to the inner logic of Javanese musical thinking.

I discovered gamelan in the early 1990s. I have since been learning this music with various Javanese masters, amongst which Rahayu Supanggah, Sri Joko Raharjo, Waluyo Tembang, Peni Candrarini, and Nia Dwi Raharjo. Over the past few years, I have been part of the groups Sekar Wangi  (Cité de la musique, Paris) and Pantcha Indra (Paris). I focused on the female singing part (sindhenan). We played in various concert halls in Paris (Philharmonie 2018, Musée Guimet 2013, Théâtre du Chatelet 2013, Centre Mandapa 2013, Musée du quai Branly 2012, Cité de la musique 2008), Chinon (2011), Pontault- Combault (2010), Pau (2009), Nanterre (théâtre de la Forge 2013, Maison de la musique 2008), Strasbourg (Théâtre jeune public 2008), Cannes (Musée de la Castre 2008), Java (2008, 2007), La Réunion (Théâtre en plein air de Saint Gilles 2006), Nice (Musée des Arts asiatiques 2004), Grenoble (2004), Lyon (Grame 2004), Bourg en Bresse (2004).