The SPU Gamelan is a select group of musicians who study and perform traditional Indonesian gamelan instruments and dances.
As a member of Gamelan, you will be immersed in a variety of activities designed to develop technical skills, musicality, knowledge, and performance practices. A comprehensive program of gamelan instruction is designed to meet your individual needs and broaden your musical horizons.
Read a Response article about the SPU Gamelan.
What Is Gamelan?
Gamelan is an Indonesian orchestra of tuned percussion — including bronze gongs, metallophones, and drums — and sometimes rebab (bowed string instrument) and suling (long bamboo flute). Students at Seattle Pacific University have an opportunity to play gamelan on instruments given to the Seattle Surabaya Sister City Association by the governor of Java in 1995, instruments that are housed at Seattle Pacific University, with Music Professor Ramona Holmes as curator.
Javanese gamelan music is a complex polyphonic genre with intricate interweaving patterns. One unusual characteristic of gamelan music you will discover is that you work in communal unity, not as an individual musician. Though as a gamelan musician you will specialize in one instrument, you will likely play most or all of the others. You will experience the sharing of musical roles — with gamelan there are no star musicians, because all roles are interdependent. You do not need prior experience in order to be part of Gamelan. The scale system and form are quite different from Western European music, and you will be learning the music communally.
Membership in Gamelan does not require an audition. You are invited to play in Gamelan — whether you are a Music major, a Music minor, or a nonmajor. Registration takes place at the beginning of Winter Quarter and meets both winter and spring. You may take the course an unlimited number of times.
Arts Events at SPU
SPU hosts many arts-related events throughout the year. Pictured above: SPU Theatre Department production of "The Billy Goats Gruff" by John Davies, directed by Don Yanik.
Why I Teach at SPU
Ramona Holmes, Director and Professor of Music of Education
"It is a joy to teach music education with students who are called to serve. The SPU students are passionate about music and want to share their gifts with others. It is never difficult to place our students as interns and to help them find jobs because our students consider music education a calling, not just a job."