gam·​elan | \ ˈga-mə-ˌlan How to pronounce gamelan (audio) , -ˌlän \

Definition of gamelan

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

Examples of gamelan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The dancers were accompanied by a 40-piece gamelan orchestra in which players used mallets to produce rapid, rhythmic and hypnotic music on banks of percussion instruments. Seth Mydans, New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Ni Gusti Ayu Raka Rasmi, Balinese Dancer," 13 Mar. 2020 Games of the youths are accompanied by dancing, percussive tinklings inspired by Balinese gamelan music. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Set in a gathering epidemic, Britten’s ‘Death in Venice’ is newly timely," 15 Apr. 2020 The things often summoned up her Java stories of gamelans, sate-sellers, cicadas and warm rain. The Economist, "Obituary: Jan Ruff O’Herne died on August 19th," 5 Sep. 2019 Now Ithaca’s annual Porchfest has grown into a six-hour extravaganza featuring 180 acts as varied as string bands, opera singers, hip-hop groups, and Indonesian gamelan ensembles. Melody Warnick, Woman's Day, "These Small-Town Heroes Are Helping Their Communities Thrive," 2 Apr. 2019 The gamelan musicians also lined the back of the stage at the Broad Stage. Mark Swed,, "The musical view from Mexico and Bali (by way of Northridge and Santa Monica)," 20 Feb. 2018 Somewhere down a hallway behind him, there were four separate gamelans awaiting their fate. David Murphy,, "Look out, NBA. The Sixers are storming into the postseason | David Murphy," 12 Apr. 2018 The piece reflects when Debussy first heard a Javanese gamelan at the Paris Exposition of 1889. Special To The Oregonian,, "March Music Moderne festival pays tribute to Claude Debussy," 10 Mar. 2018 Yes, Debussy had heard Javanese gamelan music at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in the summer of 1889 and had written with great admiration about its complexity and sophistication. Stephen Hough, New York Times, "100 Years After Debussy’s Death, He Remains the First ‘Modern’ Composer," 2 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'gamelan.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of gamelan

1816, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for gamelan

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about gamelan

Time Traveler for gamelan

Time Traveler

The first known use of gamelan was in 1816

See more words from the same year

Statistics for gamelan

Cite this Entry

“Gamelan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on gamelan Encyclopedia article about gamelan

Comments on gamelan

What made you want to look up gamelan? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble tiles that read scrabble quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!