The Edinburgh University Gamelan Ensemble is one of four groups bringing together Music students at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) with singers and musicians from across the University and the city. In this short article, Digital Composition and Performance student, Elly Gladman, tells us what it’s like to be part of the Ensemble and how to get involved in 2016/2017.
The Edinburgh University Gamelan Ensemble is a chance to play a set of pitched percussion instruments from Central Java in Indonesia. There’s a huge range, including sarons, slenthem, bonangs, kenongs, kempuls, gong, gambang, gender, ketuk and drums.
During term time, we meet once a week for a couple of hours on a Thursday evening. We play traditional Javanese gamelan repertoire, improvise, and rotate instruments, meaning that each person in the group has the chance to try out different things.
We have occasional concerts, visits from guest teachers, and meetings with the Glasgow gamelan ensemble. We’re encouraged to bring material or compose new music for the group; last year, we played four new compositions from our members’ input.
There is something extremely enticing about playing gamelan…
… maybe because you’re drawn in by the resonant instruments, the traditional repertoire, or the feeling of being an essential cog in the collective ensemble.
Some of our group members joined because they find playing gamelan relaxing, others come because they want to try something new; the learning curve for gamelan is a lot gentler than, say, for a Western classical instrument.
The group currently has 11 members, and can comfortably work with anywhere between five and 16 players. We will be starting up again in early October 2016 and, if you would like to get involved, send a message to our Facebook group or contact katherinewaumsley at hotmail.com.
You can also watch an introductory film about the Ensemble on YouTube.
Are you interested in studying Music at Edinburgh College of Art?