Balinese Gamelan

The gamelan music of Bali, Indonesia, is exciting to play. Internationally celebrated for its beauty and part of a long Southeast Asian tradition, it has been studied and performed worldwide by thousands of students in universities or community ensembles for over 60 years.

Director: Dr. Michael Tenzer

Taking the gamelan class is a refreshing break from your other activities. It will open your mind to new musical ways and increase your skill at learning by ear and getting into a rhythmic groove with others. Prior experience is not required, and we welcome all UBC students.

The gamelan comprises gongs, drums, and other percussion instruments, and the music is full of rich melodies, textures, and surprising shifts and transitions. But the point of gamelan is to create community: everyone learns together and listens to one another, practicing the music until it is memorized and we can feel it as one. The mood in class is supportive and fun, staying true to the spirit of the music as it is still made today everywhere in Bali.

WATCH: UBC Balinese Gamelan in concert. April 12, 2023 at UBC Music Building


Professor Tenzer is an expert in the field and has published books on the topic, composed music for gamelan, and performed and taught it worldwide. Alumni of the gamelan class have often gone on to join our mixed student-and-community ensemble, Gamelan Gita Asmara, which rehearses evenings, performs throughout BC, and toured Bali in 2013. Some alum have completed PhDs in ethnomusicology and now direct gamelan at other universities.

UBC’s Balinese gamelan was founded in 1996 and, over the years, has hosted extended guest residencies by Balinese master artists such as Dewa Alit (2001-2004), Wayan Sudirana (2004-2013), and Putu Sukaryana (2017-2021). From September 2022 to 2025, we will welcome the gifted young Balinese performer and composer Putu Swaryandana as guest director.

WATCH: A lecture-demonstration of the instruments by former guest director Wayan Sudirana


WATCH: A Gita Asamara promotional video

On this page