noun \ˈga-mə-ˌlan, -ˌlän\

Definition of GAMELAN

:  an Indonesian orchestra made up especially of percussion instruments (as gongs, xylophones, and drums)

Origin of GAMELAN

First Known Use: 1817


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Indigenous orchestra of Java and Bali and, more generally, of Indonesia and Malaysia. A gamelan usually consists largely of gongs, xylophones, and metallophones (rows of tuned metal bars struck with a mallet). Gamelan polyphony is complex and many-voiced. The melody is taken by the voice, flute, or rebab (a bowed stringed instrument); under it, most of the other instruments provide rhythmic paraphrases of the melody, producing a shimmering, variegated texture. The gamelan has influenced many Western composers, including Claude Debussy, Olivier Messiaen, John Cage, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass.


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