gam·​elan ˈga-mə-ˌlan How to pronounce gamelan (audio)
: an Indonesian orchestra made up especially of percussion instruments (such as gongs, xylophones, and drums)

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The tones suggest Indonesian gamelan music, but with less structured sonic patterns. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, 17 Feb. 2023 There are the awe-inspiring temples in the tens of thousands—literally—and near-daily ceremonies: vivid, multi-sensory and loud, accompanied by chanting and clanging gamelan. Kathryn Romeyn, Travel + Leisure, 16 July 2021 Western audiences would likely experience a learning curve with sonifications that employ, say, the sound of a Javanese gamelan, but a framework that contains such options can flex and adapt to the data’s needs. Timmy Broderick, Scientific American, 5 Jan. 2023 This Balinese composer combines two different gamelan scales in his latest project. New York Times, 22 Dec. 2022 One of the temporary musical tracks McDonagh used was, surprisingly, a piece of Indonesian gamelan music. Tim Greiving, Los Angeles Times, 17 Nov. 2022 In addition to studies of electronic music, Mr. Marshall discovered the Indonesian gamelan at Cal Arts and studied with K.R.T. Wasitodipura before traveling to Indonesia and Bali on a Fulbright fellowship to investigate further. Allan Kozinn, Washington Post, 3 June 2022 In college, Melody studied Balinese gamelan and Brazilian sambas. Matt Wake |, al, 22 Mar. 2022 Also on the first floor is the Experience Gallery, where would-be musicians can practice on an Indonesian gamelan, a banjo, bongos, ukulele and more. Susan Glaser, cleveland, 10 Mar. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'gamelan.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from Javanese, going back to Old Javanese gamĕlan "percussion instrument, ensemble of percussion instruments," from gamĕl- "playing of a percussion instrument" + -an, noun-forming suffix

First Known Use

1816, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gamelan was in 1816

Dictionary Entries Near gamelan

Cite this Entry

“Gamelan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Mar. 2023.

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