This was a fantastic hands-on opportunity for them to learn about traditional Indonesian and Malay music through immersion, and gain inspiration for their GCSE compositions.
The Gamelan has its roots in ancient traditions of Indonesia - a collection of metallophones and other percussion instruments, which is played in large ensembles at formal occasions to accompany dancers. The Malay Gamelan has developed its own distinct identity from the javanese and balinese Gamelan: based on the ancient royal gamelan set discovered in 1966 at Istana Kolam, Terengganu. A set of Malay Gamelan consists of seven instruments, each with its own unique resonance and role.
Umar’s workshop began with an introduction and careful explanation of how to play each instrument. Then, over the course of the afternoon we all got to try each one out, learning the proper techniques for playing and muting them, which was more challenging than it looked! We finished our session by performing one of Umar’s compositions as a group.
Gamelan’s are very expensive to build, make and transport: opportunities to hear them play are rare, and the opportunity to play them rarer still, so this really was a fantastic opportunity for our students to get hands on with their learning, particularly with such a distinguished and well regarded expert. All of our students showed great positivity and enthusiasm throughout the workshop and it was a pleasure taking them to KLPAC. A special thank you to Ms Leng for organising the trip.