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)

Examples of gamelan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Some hew closely to the traditions rooted in gamelan’s 1,300-year history; others mix in, either subtly or liberally, Western and modern influences. Danielle Dowling, New York Times, 23 May 2024 Accompanied by a gamelan (orchestra) of percussion instruments, the art form immerses audiences in rich narratives that can last all night. Karen Gardiner, Condé Nast Traveler, 24 Oct. 2023 There are more than 100 gamelan groups in the United States. Danielle Dowling, New York Times, 23 May 2024 Throughout his career, Harrison was inspired by gamelan — a kind of Indonesian music ensemble — and his 1959 score features an unusual array of those instruments, among them wind chimes and flower pots, brake drums and coffee cans. Georgia Rowe, The Mercury News, 12 Mar. 2024 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, 1 Sep. 2023 Trumpets and flutes were predictably popular, but so were the gongs and xylophones of an Indonesian gamelan orchestra. Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker, 27 Mar. 2023 The birds didn’t take to the gamelan right away, Sulzer told me. Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker, 27 Mar. 2023 The gamelan is a musical tradition from Indonesia. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 24 June 2021

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 23 Jun. 2024.

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