These workshops allow children the opportunity to explore the exotic nature of the music and culture, experiencing a sound world not heard in the West with these stunning, little-seen authentic instruments. Traditionally a Gamelan comprises around 18 different instruments but Andy has an additional set, a mini gamelan, which enables participation by even younger children and allows an increased capacity for workshops of up to 36 children per session. This enables many more children to experience this unique set of instruments in one day.
The Gamelan used is Javanese and in 'slendro' tuning following a five note, pentatonic system. There is another tuning system comprising seven notes called 'pelog'. The Gamelan orchestra comprises of 4 main sections. One section plays the tune, one elaborates, one provides the punctuation or structure whilst the drum conducts the whole orchestra. There are various versions of Gamelan in Indonesia, such as Balinese which tends to be much faster and ornate but this Javanese Gamelan is generally more sedate and relaxing. The Gamelan is often used to accompany story telling through the medium of shadow puppetry with the narrator or puppet master leading the action and the music.
The history of shadow puppetry dates back centuries and was present in many different guises and cultures. Indonesian shadow puppetry is particularly popular in Bali and Java where intricate puppets are carved from leather for the ‘Wayang kulit’ and performances are often overnight, lasting 8 hours or more. These shadow plays involve Gamelan music and are often based on religious stories such as the well-known Ramayana. Our Gamelan and Shadow Puppetry combination workshops allow classes to create their own shadow puppets and then, using our specially designed screen, retell the story of the Ramayana accompanied by a Gamelan performance at the end of the day.
Other stories and performance choices are also available for Nursery and younger children if required.