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Photo of Javanese Gamelan

Instruments of the Central Javanese Gamelan: Rebab

This is the third in a series of articles exploring the various instruments of the Javanese gamelan.

The rebab is a bowed two-string lute of the royal court gamelan orchestras of the central Javanese cities of Yogyakarta and Surakarta, Indonesia. Like all gamelan instruments, the rebab is played by a musician sitting cross-legged on the floor or stage, with the player bowing the instrument while holding it upright.

Instrument Construction

Photo of Pak Djoko Walujo with Rebab

Pak Djoko Walujo with Rebab

The resonating chamber of the rebab is a hollowed-out piece of wood about the size of a large coconut, curved in the back and decorated with a velvet cloth and beaded tassels. The front surface of the resonating chamber consists of a membrane made from a bull bladder. Protruding from the bottom of the chamber is a decorative, lathe-turned spike several inches long—forming a leg which rests on the floor. This gives the rebab a striking appearance suggestive of the description “spike fiddle,” as the instrument is sometimes called. Extending from the top of the chamber is the neck, also turned on a lathe.

At the top of the neck is the peg box, in which the wire strings are wound onto two long tuning pegs. Extending from the top of the peg box is a tall pointed spire. Although it serves no musical function, Javanese musicians feel that, in both an aesthetic and a spiritual sense, the rebab represents a conduit between Heaven and Earth. In fact, the entire gamelan orchestra is regarded as highly venerable, even sacred, possessed of mystical powers. Partly for this reason, gamelan sets are given majestic, honorific titles, such as “The Venerable Torrent of Honey,” a gamelan housed in the Sultan’s Palace in Yogyakarta.

The rebab player does not press the strings to the neck while playing. Actually, the neck has no fingerboard. The player merely needs to gently press the string at the correct locations along its length in order to render the pitches of the melody. It is standard practice to play some of the pitches a “hint” higher than the exact fixed pitches of the keyed metal instruments. Doing so makes the rebab—a relatively quiet instrument—brighter and more audible.

Upon close inspection, one will notice that the two bronze strings of the rebab are in fact only one. That is, a single string is wound, at its middle point, several times around the upper base of the leg and then around a small peg. From there, each half of the string extends upward over an adjustable bridge (held on by the tension of the strings), continuing up to the tuning pegs. If the string breaks—depending on where it breaks—it can be unwound a couple of turns from around the leg, and then restrung and retuned. However, restringing a rebab is a relatively time-consuming task. This is one reason why gamelans generally have extra rebabs available during a performance, even though only one is played at any given time.

History

Our understanding of the history of the rebab is based on informed inference and speculation rather than hard archeological or documentary evidence. On ancient ruins and temples (for example, Borobudur, a large Buddhist monument built in Java during the 8th to 9th centuries CE), one can see reliefs of performing musicians and various instruments carved on the stone walls. However, images of rebabs are lacking. The rebab (Arabic: rabāba) has a long history in the Muslim world, and it is probable that early models of rebab-like bowed lutes were introduced into Java by Islamic traders and sailors sometime during the Middle Ages, perhaps during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Image of Bedouin Rebab Player, Jordan

Contemporary Bedouin Rebab Payer, Jordan

How, then, did rebabs come to be included in gamelan orchestras in modern Java? Perhaps rebabs were played by itinerant musicians outside of the courts, mostly for accompanying themselves or others while singing. If so, over time they would likely have gradually gained acceptance in Javanese culture and eventually been introduced into gamelans to musically support the vocalists.

The validity of this idea may be reinforced by the general function of the rebab in gamelans today, where it melodically supports singers, both male (gerong) and female (pesindhen), in formal compositions. Also, the rebab aids various elaborating instruments (e.g., gender, gambang, suling, siter) by announcing structurally significant pitches just before the elaborating instrument are to sound the same notes. Thus in performance, when the melodic line played by rebab ascends into the upper range, the elaborating instruments and the singers tend to immediately follow.

Image of Javanese Rebab in Case

Javanese Rebab in Case

Playing the Rebab

There are two main categories of gamelan repertoire: the “loud” style and the “soft.” In the soft repertoire, the rebab (or sometimes another instrument or a singer) leads the gamelan with an introductory phrase called a buka (“opening”).  In soft-style compositions (gendhing rebab), the instrument first plays a senggrengang—a short phrase that alerts the other musicians to be ready to play. Then, the rebab will play the buka, leading into the composition’s first section. The rebab always plays an unfretted, open stroke on both strings at the sounding of the large gong (gong ageng), which marks the major structural sections of the composition. It plays on other rhythmically and structurally significant points, such as on strokes of one of the kenongs, medium-sized gongs resembling inverted bronze pots that are horizontally suspended on a rack.

Master rebab players can improvise appropriate melodic phrases effortlessly, while students often rely on written cipher notation of fixed compositions provided by their teachers. It is challenging for foreign students to achieve with authenticity the sound and subtleties of the rebab playing that they hear when seasoned Javanese musicians perform.

The melodic phrases most characteristic of traditional Javanese rebab playing are typically elaborate and ornamental—but may occasionally be quite simple. Either way, they should always be played with an expressive yet calm mood and should sound languid and graceful, in keeping with the rebab‘s role as an elaborating instrument. In this, the tradition of the rebab truly reflects the exquisite refinement characteristic of Javanese royal culture.

Series: Instruments of the Central Javanese Gamelan

The Indonesian Angklung: From Village Ritual to Soft Power Diplomacy

fig. 1: Indonesian Angklung

The angklung is a bamboo rattle from West Java, Indonesia. It is an example of an idiophone, an instrument that is struck, scraped, or—as in this case—shaken. Instruments similar to the angklung can be found throughout Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Ethnomusicologists date the use of the angklung in Indonesia to the seventh century CE.

The angklung is constructed by suspending two to four graduated bamboo tubes on a frame (see figure 1), which is shaken vigorously from left to right when the instrument is being played.

The instrument’s creation story points to its importance for agrarian rituals.

While scholars speculate that the rattling of bamboo stalks growing in the forest may have been the inspiration for the instrument, locals tell a legend of the rice goddess:

Desperate that the rice wasn’t growing, the people called upon their leader, who meditated and was instructed by spirit to cut bamboo and make an instrument. Upon hearing the beautiful sound of the bamboo angklung, the rice goddess, Dewi Sri, was pleased. The rice began to grow again.

In any event, a rich history of using the angklung for planting and harvesting ceremonies was established.

Angklung in procession, rice harvest ceremony, West Java | Photo: Onotrapokenifla [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Angklung continue to this day to be played for agrarian rituals and rites of passage. Anklung are also used in parades, at community centers, in Indonesian music education, and for cultural diplomacy initiatives.

Traditionally, angklung were tuned to tritonic (three-note) or tetratonic (four-note) scales. As the angklung has developed, it has been tuned in regional styles of the pentatonic five-tone salendro scale and the West Javanese (Sundanese) madenda and degung scales (both also 5-tone). Angklung are frequently played along with the Sundanese gamelan to accompany dance and puppet theater.

The most common modern angklung has two tubes and produces one pitch, with the longer tube being tuned an octave lower than the shorter tube. Some angklung have three or four tubes and are tuned to sound a chord.

fig. 2: Angklung on Rack

A collection of angklung can be hung on a rack and organized into rows so they can be played by one person (see figure 2). Alternatively, the instruments can be distributed among a group, one per player, in which case they are played in hocket or interlocking fashion, each musician contributing a single tone to the desired pattern or melody (as in a handbell ensemble).

When playing a single angklung, a musician suspends it between the index and middle fingers of the left hand and shakes the bottom of the frame from left to right with the right hand. In an ensemble, angklung is a great tool to introduce Indonesian music and folk songs while fostering group cohesion and cooperation. This is also why angklung has been used as a form of “soft power” cultural diplomacy.

While Indonesia was under Dutch colonial rule during the 1930s, the “father of the angklung,” Daeng Soetigna, experimented with tuning the angklung in Western diatonic and chromatic scales. Diatonic tuning enabled musicians to play Indonesian folk and national tunes, which led to an angklung revival and a widespread interest in the instrument in Indonesian schools and cultural centers.

Since then, angklung music and performance have spread across West Java and globally. This was in large part due to the educational initiatives of Daeng Soetigna’s student, Udjo Ngalagena, who in 1966 created the Saung Angklung Udjo (“Udjo’s House of Anklung“) performance and learning center in Padasuka, Bandung, West Java. Angklung was recognized as an official music education tool by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture on August 23, 1968, and was placed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.

15,110 angklung players set Guinness World Record, Jakarta, 2023

Working with the Indonesian government and global embassies, the Saung Angklung Udjo center has coordinated colossal, world-record-breaking angklung events in which thousands of people play together by following cipher (number) notation and Kodály hand signals. These methods, coupled with the accessibility of the angklung, have made it an extremely effective instrument to teach Indonesian arts and culture to groups of children in the classroom or large groups of adults at diplomatic and community events.

Dr. Meghan Hynson is visiting assistant professor of ethnomusicology in the Department of Music, University of San Diego. She is also a teaching artist in the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program. For an expanded treatment of this topic, see Dr. Hynson’s Smithsonian article, cited and linked below.

For Further Reading

Hynson, Meghan. 2015. “Indonesian Angklung: Intersections of Music Education and Cultural Diplomacy” in Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art Online. https://asia-archive.si.edu/essays/article-hynson/

Baier, Randal. 1985/86. “The Angklung Ensemble of West Java: Continuity of an Agricultural Tradition.” Balungan 2(1–2): 9–17.

Perris, Arnold. 1971. “The Rebirth of the Javanese Angklung.” Ethnomusicology 15(3): 403–407.

Kaylie Kirby: Continuing a Legacy of Indonesian Arts

Sharing her love of Indonesian arts through the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program, Kaylie Kirby is patient, passionate, and playful as a teaching artist.

Kaylie is no stranger to Balinese gamelan angklung (metallophone ensemble) in the K–8 classroom. She began her journey with Indonesian music and dance when she was in 5th grade at Museum School, the school in which she now teaches young students. There she studied Balinese gamelan and dance with master teachers I Nyoman Sumandhi and Ni Putu Sutiati, who were CWM distinguished visiting artists in San Diego back in the early 2000s. You can learn more about her full-circle performing arts journey from this feature story on our website.

After her first exposure to Indonesian arts as a 5th grader, Kaylie continued her studies, attending after-school classes in Balinese dance. Later, she joined Puspa Warsa, an ensemble of advanced students organized by former CWM teaching artists Alex Khalil and Kaori Okado. With that group, Kaylie performed all over Southern California for numerous universities and festivals, and on television.

Kaylie with daughter

She later studied under other Balinese masters, including I Nyoman Wenten, renowned Balinese musician and dancer, at CalArts and UCLA. In 2018–19, she was a member of the Balinese gamelan angklung ensemble Gunung Mas at the University of San Diego, directed by Dr. David Harnish.

Today Kaylie finds joy in sharing her passion for Indonesian music and culture, especially as her own children are now enrolled in the program at Museum School in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood.

Meghan Hynson: Sharing the Music and Culture of Indonesia

Image of Meghan Hynson in Bali Holding an Angklung

Meghan Hynson with angklung in Java

Meghan Hynson was first exposed to Balinese gamelan (gong ensemble) while studying for her undergraduate degree in music education and oboe performance at Boston University. Intrigued by the sound of the gamelan, she soon began studying Indonesian ensemble music, took private lessons on Balinese gendèr wayang (metallophone duo or quartet), and was awarded a scholarship to travel to Bali to follow her passion for Indonesian music and culture.

She eventually earned her MA and PhD in ethnomusicology at UCLA, writing her dissertation on Balinese shadow puppet theater. Having taught at Duquesne University, the University of Pittsburgh, and Monmouth University, Dr. Hynson is currently adjunct assistant professor of ethnomusicology at the University of San Diego, where she directs the Balinese gamelan ensemble and teaches courses in global music.

Fluent in Bahasa Indonesia, the national language of that multi-cultured nation, Dr. Hynson has spent over a decade living and studying in Southeast Asia. In 2019, Dr. Hynson toured internationally as a vocalist for the Indonesian pop band, the Dangdut Cowboys, under the invitation of the U.S. State Department. She typically spends several months each year at her second home in Mas Village, Bali, doing research and furthering her study of the island’s rich traditions.

Image of Meghan Hynson in Classroom

Meghan Hynson in San Diego classroom

During her career, Dr. Hynson has developed world music curricula and outreach programs for K-12 schools, worked with major museums and international world music festivals, and spoken out for global diversity through music via campus and community activities.

As a teaching artist with the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program, Dr. Hynson teaches Balinese gamelan angklung and Indonesian angklung rattles.

Instruments of the Central Javanese Gamelan: Peking

This is the second in a series of articles exploring the various instruments of the Javanese gamelan.

The peking is one instrument in a family group called balungan instruments. In the Javanese gamelan ensemble, these instruments all utilize similar performance techniques and play the balungan, or melodic line, in unison or with slight embellishments. Within this larger balungan family, there is a sub-group of instruments: the saron family. These three instruments—the peking, the saron, and the demung—together cover a range of three octaves, from high to low. The peking, also referred to as the saron panerus, covers the highest range in this family. The saron represents the middle of the range, and the demung renders the lowest part of the range. The latter is also referred to as saron barung.

Top view of the demung, saron, and peking, each with its mallet

Like the other instruments in this family, the peking is a struck metallophone made from bronze keys suspended over a hollow, ornately decorated wooden box, which serves both to support the keys and as a resonator. A peking has 7 keys in both the sléndro (5 note scale, with an additional note above and below the octave) and pélog (7 note scale) tunings. A small ensemble might only have two peking, one in each scale, and likewise two saron and two demung, one in each scale, whereas a larger ensemble might have as many as eight peking, four in each scale.

Peking are struck with a small mallet made of water buffalo horn, which produces a loud and bright sound. This, along with their high pitch, allows their sound to rise above that of the other instruments in the ensemble to be heard clearly by the other players and the audience. However, when required, peking are also capable of producing tones with a soft and dynamic sensibility. The bronze keys resonate freely and have a long decay. Because of this, when the mallet strikes one key, the player’s other hand grasps the key previously struck so it doesn’t continue to sound. This allows notes to sustain freely for a short time until the following note is played. A similar “damping” technique is used with other members of this family of instruments.

The peking players are seated near the ensemble’s director, who signals tempo changes and gives other cues to the musicians via the kendang (drum). Because they can thus see and hear the drummer’s signals more readily, and also because the sound of the peking can be heard clearly by the other players, the peking players have a special role: to reinforce the signals from the drummer, serving as a bridge between the drummer and the rest of the saron and other balungan instruments.

Series: Instruments of the Central Javanese Gamelan

Teaching Artist Matthew Clough-Hunter

The Center for World Music is delighted to profile World Music in the Schools teaching artist Matthew Clough-Hunter.

Matthew Clough-Hunter is a Los Angeles-based performer, composer, and educator who specializes in several Balinese gamelan traditions including angklung, gong kebyar, gendèr wayang, gambuh, kecak, and gamut. He is a member of several gamelan ensembles based in Southern California: Burat Wangi, a community-based gamelan at CalArts directed by I Nyoman Wenten; Merdu Kumala, a community-based gamelan founded by Hirotaka Inuzuka and directed by Matthew that teaches gamelan workshops and performs throughout the country; Giri Kusuma, a gong kebyar ensemble affiliated with Pomona College; and Sekaa Gambuh, an ensemble that specializes in an ancient repertoire played with meter-long bamboo flutes.

Recently, Matthew taught gamelan at Opus 6 (a summer camp program organized by the Santa Monica Youth Orchestra), participated in Performing Indonesia at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., and performed with renowned Indonesian guitarist Balawan.

Matthew earned an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in World Music with a focus on Indonesian music and composition, and a BFA from Denison University in Music Performance on jazz guitar. Outside of his work in the realm of gamelan, Matthew enjoys songwriting and performing. His songs can be found under the artist name “Cloudhopper” on streaming sites such as Spotify. Music composition, performance, and education are among the strongest driving forces in Matthew’s life, and he feels “so happy when [he] can excite someone about the possibilities of their input in music.”

Matthew Clough-Hunter and Hirotaka Inuzuka performing gender wayang

Gamelan Merdu Kumala performing at the 2022 Balinese Gamelan Festival in Colorado

Instruments of the Central Javanese Gamelan: Introduction

This is the first in a series of articles exploring the various instruments of the Javanese gamelan. We start off with an overview of this fascinating topic.

If you were to travel to the islands of Java or Bali, you would very likely encounter the music of the gamelan, an ensemble of traditional instruments for which Indonesia is famous. There are numerous types of gamelan ensembles found across this diverse archipelago. Each has its own instrumentation, associated musical style, tuning, and cultural context. The Javanese gamelan tradition was cultivated in the palaces of Central Java as early as the second century CE. Because of its historical connection to the royal courts and their patronage, the music has developed into a highly refined art form and, like the classical music of Europe, has come to carry great cultural prestige.

The instruments of the Javanese gamelan ensemble at Canyon Crest Academy, San Diego. Photo by Laurel Grinnell-Wilson.

Most of the instruments of the gamelan are struck idiophones, a class of instruments that produce sound when the primary material of the instrument itself vibrates. They are made of hand-forged bronze, suspended on wooden frames. The gamelan ensemble can also include drums, stringed instruments, and wooden xylophones. All pieces of the ensemble are ornately decorated with hand-carved designs and shimmering gold paint.

The instruments of the gamelan can be divided into three families: balungan instruments, punctuating instruments, and elaborating instruments.

The balungan instruments—the saron, the demung, the peking, and the slenthem—carry the melodic lines. For these, players strike the instrument’s bronze bars with a mallet while dampening with their other hand to control the length of each note. Balungan in Indonesian means “skeleton,” which reveals a powerful perspective on how Indonesians perceive melody. A skeleton holds our body’s structure but is not seen from the outside. Similarly, a balungan melody should be strong but subtle. As with our bones, it should not be prominent. 

The ornately carved gong stand at the Kraton Yogyakarta (Royal Palace of Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia). Photo by Laurel Grinnell-Wilson.

Unlike Western art music, which tends to be linear, gamelan music is cyclical, or colotomic. Colotomic time cycles are marked by the second family of instruments, the punctuating instruments. Most important in this family, and in the ensemble as a whole, is the largest gong, the gong ageng. It marks the beginning/ending of each cycle and is thought to hold the spirit of the gamelan, reflecting the strong mysticism that Javanese people still hold today. The gong ageng and the kempul, which are smaller gongs, are hung from wooden frames and struck in the center with a padded mallet.

The kenong, kethuk, and kempyang are sets of inverted pots that are supported by rope in wooden frames. All three instruments are played by one musician, who uses two mallets, one in each hand. The kendang, or drum, punctuates the time cycles and is considered the leader of the ensemble. Much like a conductor in a western orchestra, the kendang player navigates the musicians through tempo changes, starts and stops, and accentuates other collaborative art forms such as tari (dance) and wayang kulit (shadow puppets). All of the punctuating instruments help in marking time in the gong cycle.

The third family, the elaborating instruments, help add shape and movement to a piece, as well as anticipate where the balungan line is headed next. In so doing, these instruments—each following its own special rules of elaboration—play what is known as an “inner melody” to the balungan line. There are many elaborating instruments in the Javanese gamelan ensemble, including a two-string bowed fiddle called a rebab, a zither called a siter, a wooden xylophone called a gambang, a bronze metallophone called a gendèr, and a row of small bronze pots suspended over a wooden frame called a bonang. Vocalists are also included in this group. Each elaborating instrument follows its own special rules of ornamentation.

Central Javanese gamelan music uses two scales: pelog, which consists of seven notes, and slendro, which has five. The two scales are performed on separate sets of instruments, and gamelan ensembles may have one or both sets. There is no strictly prescribed tuning for either scale. The concept of laras, or how the scale should sound, was historically both subjective and protected, a choice based on aesthetic differences from village to village. This means that different gamelans using the “same” scale might have distinct root pitches, and the intervals between any two notes in the scale might vary, minutely or substantially, creating subtle differences in the mood or feeling of the music.

As in other elite musical traditions, the various instruments of the Central Javanese gamelan embody fascinating differences in construction, timbre, and performance methods. Learn more about the individual instruments as we add profiles of each in this ongoing series.

Series: Instruments of the Central Javanese Gamelan

Laurel Grinnell-Wilson: Bringing Javanese Gamelan to San Diego Students

The Center for World Music is delighted to profile World Music in the Schools teaching artist Laurel Grinnell-Wilson.

Laurel in the gamelan room at SDSU

Originally from Northern California, Laurel has been an avid musician since childhood. After exploring the piano, flute, and violin, she started on the drum set when she was 15, playing in her first band with her brother, San Diego bassist Justin Grinnell.

Laurel graduated from Sonoma State University, earning her BA cum laude in jazz performance studies. While teaching and working freelance for several years, she discovered a passion for world music, bringing together her love of anthropology and her love of music. She went on to earn her M.A. in ethnomusicology with honors at San Diego State University.

Laurel and son Cedar with Pak Djoko Walujo and his wife, Ibu Endang

Laurel has studied Balinese, Sundanese, and Javanese gamelan, performing in Indonesia and throughout Southern California. Since 2007, she has been training intensively under the guidance of renowned gamelan composer, performer, and teacher Djoko Walujo Wimboprasetyo. Laurel has also studied West African drumming, Senegalese kora, as well as Zimbabwean mbira and marimba. With a deep interest in the ways in which cultural-linguistic context and music inform each other, she continues to broaden her expertise in ethnomusicology. 

Currently, Laurel is a lecturer and director of the Javanese gamelan ensemble at San Diego State University. In her role as a World Music in the Schools teaching artist, she serves as assistant director of Canyon Crest Academy’s Javanese gamelan ensemble, supporting the director, her mentor and CWM master teaching artist Pak Djoko. In addition, she continues to perform as a freelance jazz artist and as percussionist for musical theater productions and the San Diego Women’s Choir. She has appeared with artists such as Allison Adams Tucker, Lori Bell, Steph Johnson, and Monette Marino.

When she’s not performing or teaching music, Laurel is a mother to two children and an artisan soap maker

Here’s a short YouTube clip of Laurel playing bonang barung with the SDSU Javanese gamelan, accompanying dancer Casey Lee Sims:

— Contributor Evan Ludington is a student at Canyon Crest Academy and an intern for the Center for World Music.

Andrea Hernandez — Balinese Gamelan Angklung

The Center for World Music would like to give a warm welcome to Andrea Hernandez, who has recently joined our World Music in the Schools roster of teaching artists in residence.

Andrea Hernandez

Andrea’s vibrant creativity comes from growing up in a large family of singers, musicians, dancers, writers, and artists. Her imaginative home life inspired her to actively pursue all of these arts from a very young age. She grew up drawing, painting, writing, singing, dancing, and playing every instrument she could get her hands on. She has performed Balet Folclórico (traditional dance of all regions of Mexico) since she could first walk, and continues to do so to this day. Her insatiable curiosity and appetite to learn has persisted, as she continues to study many different arts including guitar, piano, drums, flamenco, and capoeira. When she first heard the Indonesian gamelan, she was naturally drawn to it because of its complex musical rhythms.

Andrea was introduced to gamelan while working at the Museum School in 2003 and has been in love with it ever since. She has studied and performed with many teachers including Dr. Alex Khalil, Putu Hiranmayena, Tyler Yamin, Djoko Walujo, and Made Lasmawan. Her primary focus has been Balinese gamelan angklung, but she has also studied Javanese gamelan, gender, and Indonesian dance under Wuri Wimboprasetyo.

Andrea is a member of the USD Gamelan Ensemble, Gunung Mas, and performs with them on a regular basis. At USD, her enthusiasm for learning and playing is almost unmatched and her participation is very much appreciated. She has taught beginning and intermediate gamelan angklung at the Museum School for about 10 years. Andrea is determined to continue developing her abilities and teaching skills so she can help her students find the inspiration to be creative in their daily lives.

Hirotaka Inuzuka

The Center Welcomes Gamelan Artist Hirotaka Inuzuka to World Music in the Schools

We extend a warm welcome to Hirotaka Inuzuka, who joins World Music in the Schools as a teaching artist. Hirotaka will be Balinese gamelan instructor at the San Diego French American school, beginning this fall.

A specialist in Indonesian gamelan music, Hirotaka began playing Balinese gamelan during his undergraduate studies in Ethnomusicology at UCLA. He continued to deepen his knowledge of Indonesian music and dance at California Institute of the Arts under the mentorship of I Nyoman Wenten, where he earned his MFA in World Music Performance. He continues to travel to Bali regularly to expand his expertise and study with Bali’s most renowned artists and teachers.

Currently Hirotaka is a prominent member of many gamelan groups in the greater Los Angeles area, such as Burat Wangi, Pandan Arum, and Bhuwana Kumala. He has performed in the United States, Japan, and Bali, participating in events such as the Bali Arts Festival and Bali Mandara Mahalango. In October of 2014, he played as part of Performing Indonesia at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Hirotaka has taught gamelan privately, as well as at workshops and community classes in Southern California, including the “Music of Bali” series at Art Share LA in 2014 and at Glendale Community College in 2015. In 2014, he established Sekaa Gambuh Los Angeles, a group dedicated to play the music of Gambuh dance drama. Facing extinction due to Bali’s modernization, Gambuh is one of the oldest surviving Balinese dance forms.

With his focus on teaching and performing gamelan music, Hirotaka has opened his own community gamelan studio in Tujunga, California, where he teaches and trains new players in order to further the preservation and performance of gamelan music in North America.

See Hirotaka Inuzuka on YouTube: Interview and Profile | Hirotaka’s YouTube Home Page