Spring 2024 - CA 343 D100

Gamelan II (3)

Class Number: 6394

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Mon, Wed, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    CA 243.



Continuation of CA (or FPA) 243, with increased emphasis on the theoretical and ethnomusicological aspects of gamelan. May be taken twice for credit.


Course Description/topic:

Gamelan is one of the Indonesian traditional orchestra consisting mainly of gongs and other bronze percussion instruments, drums, strings, and vocals. It is one of the world`s most sophisticated orchestral traditions, yet it is music which includes varying levels of difficulty, and thus the simpler pieces in the repertoire can be approached without training in advanced instrumental, theoretical and practical techniques. An understanding of basic level of music—especially in terms of the fundamental rhythmic skills—would be useful.

Attendance is required at all classes, and out of class practice/performance will be necessary.

Course Outlines:

Week 1 (1st class, Mon. Jan. 8th , 2nd class, Wed. Jan 10th).

-Self introduction / review the content of course.

-Introducing the concept of sharing/"gotong royong" in the gamelan.

-Introduction to Gamelan and watch the videos related to the subject.


+Gamelan practice.


Þ Home work: Reading for the next class, see the online articles from: http://sumarsam.web.wesleyan.edu/Intro.gamelan.pdf


Week 2 (3rd class, Mon. Jan 15th; 4th class, Wed. Jan 17th).

-Review reading (Q&A) & discus about the gotong royong theoretical framework that can be used/applied to our gamelan class

-Notation system use in the gamelan

+Watch the gamelan videos

+Notation system use in the gamelan  

Þ Reading & summarizing book chapters from the following links: http://gamelan.org/library/writings/Sorrell01_guide_gamelan.pdf (Chapter 2&3, p. 18-54. Due on Week 3, Mon, Jan 22nd between 2 to 3 pages in 12 fonts, double space. Submit through Canvas or email: ssutrisn@sfu.ca).


Note: For CA 343 please discuss not only about the function of your instruments and/or gamelan terminologies that you find from the readings, but also to compare and contrast to one of the other reading material based on the authors’ perspectives.


Week 3 (5th class, Mon. Jan 22nd; 6th class, Wed. Jan 24th)

-Discussion (Q & A about element of music for gamelan, i.e.: tuning systems, scale, rhythm, dynamic, timbre)

-Gamelan practice

+Traditional gamelan composition.  

Þ Reading & summarizing book chapters due today at 11:59pm.

ÞReading for discussion on Wed class, see the online articles from:



Week 4 (7th class, Mon. Jan 29th; 8th class, Wed. Jan 31st).

-Discussion based on the reading.

-Vocal parts for gamelan

-Gamelan practice  

+Contemporary gamelan composition

+Q & A of the home work.

Þ reference:



Week 5 (9th class, Mon. Feb 5th; 10th class Wed. Feb 7th)

-Working on vocal and gamelan composition

-Creativity and improvisation in the gamelan.

-Gamelan practice

            +Watch selected gamelan performances

            +Home work: How to compare and contrast gamelan

Þ Reading for the next class:

Diamond, Jody. (1992). “Making Choices: American Gamelan in Composition and Education (from the Java Jive to “Eine Kleine Gamelan Music”)” in Foley, Kathy. ed. (1992). Essay on Southeast Asian Performing Arts: Local Manifestations and Cross-Cultural Implications. California: Centers for South and Southeast Asia Studies, University of California at Berkeley. P. 117-139.



Week 6 (11th class, Mon. Feb 12th; 12th class, Wed. Feb 14th).


-Compare, contrast, and analyze musical patterns of gamelan repertoires.

-Historical overview Gamelan and the West, including exoticism, colonialism during the WWII; the existence of ethnomusicology & world music programs.

-Gamelan practice

+Self motivation in the gamelan practice—example of site specific pattern 1). 


Notes: Starting this week, students will be required to prepare for intended selection projects based on the subject learning and/or in consultation with instructors. Topics may include technical, theoretical, research, observation and/or collaboration of the subject learning.


Week 7 (Classes will be canceled due to Family day on Feb 19th, and the Reading break between Feb 20th to 25th).


Week 8 (13th class, Mon. Feb. 26th; 14th class, Wed. Feb 27th)

-Watch Gamelan videos (focus on examples of site specific pattern 2).

-Gamelan practice.


+Watch Gamelan videos; Focus on the elaborating instruments and technical skill.

+Discussion about individual/group gamelan project may include: class presentations, new compositions for gamelan, extra rehearsal schedules, etc.


Week 9 (15th class, Mon. March 4th; 16th class, Wed. Mar 6th)

-Discussion on the cultural discourse about gamelan.

-Gamelan practice (example of site specific pattern 3).


+Self motivation, individual or group sectional rehearsal.


Week 10 (17th class, Mon. Mar 11th; 18th class Wed. Mar 13th)

-Review and building on music discourse and exercises (1)

-Gamelan practice

            +Improvisation in gamelan (kinesthetic response 1)


ÞProgress report (Students’ projects i.e.: class presentations, or new composition/exploration for gamelan music, or gamelan journal, etc.) will due on Monday March 18th.


Week 11 (19th class, Mon. Mar. 18th; 20th class Wed. Mar. 20th)  

-Improvisation in gamelan (kinesthetic response 2)

-Gamelan practice

            -Watch the video of gamelan and contemporary works.

+Discussion about practical issues and the implementation of Gamelan in the West (and vice versa).


Week 12 (21th class, Mon. Mar. 25th; 22st class, Wed. Mar 27th)

-Group 1 & 2 (class presentation), Q&A, and discussion.

-Gamelan rehearsal


Week 13 (April 1st. Classes will be canceled due to Easter Monday).


Week 13 (23rd class, Wed. Apr. 3rd)

-group 3 & 4 (class presentation), Q&A.

+Gamelan rehearsal


Week 14 (24th class, Mon. Apr. 8th; 25th class, Wed. Apr. 10th )

            -Gamelan rehearsal for all repertoires

+Gamelan performance

            -Due date for final paper/gamelan project.       




  • This syllabus is not 100% fix, and need to be discussed further especially for the final project and performance.
  • Students will be given opportunity to practice with instructor/guest artists by appointment using the SFU’s gamelan Kyahi Madusari (the venerable essence of honey) during the entire semester.


By the end of this course, the student will be able to:

  • apply principles of gamelan music, both theoretical and practical.
  • assess, evaluate, and reflect on a performance and teamwork.
  • explore, create, and/or compose gamelan music in creative ways.



Grades are determined mainly by the instructor`s observation of in-class work during the entire semester, and are based on the seriousness of the student`s practice and performance level achieved such as:

  • Commitment and effort (class participations & exercises in consultation with instructors).
  • The ability to put principles into practice (option to create a music composition for final performance, make a power point for class presentation, and/or summarize/analyze articles/videos related to gamelan).
  • The quality of musical skill/critical thinking/creative achievement throughout the course.


Notes: The learning process in this course requires diligence and discipline. Students are expected to actively participate in class so please come prepared. Any absences will result in a lowered participation mark. Make-up exams will not be standard procedure of this course except in instances of documented illness, in which case prior notification and physicians explanation are both required. An extra practice for individual and/or group rehearsal would be necessary.  


CA 343 – Returning students of CA 243 from previous year(s), or CA341 Prior approval.



Required texts: tba.

Internet information:

There is plenty to Google, of course. Feel free, but be skeptical of things that seem too tourist-oriented or commercial. I recommended joining the international gamelan listserv for the sake of the periodic interesting discussion thread. There are about 600 subscribers worldwide. Send an Email to: GAMELAN@LISTSERV.DARTMOUTH.EDU with the message SUBSCRIBE GAMELAN.


The following links are valuable for gamelan sources:


  1. Brinner, Benjamin Elon. Music in Java: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, c2008.
  2. Sorrell, Neil. A Guide to the Gamelan. London: Faber and Faber, 1990 (Online).
  3. Sumarsam. Gamelan and the West. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2013.
  4. Tenzer, Michael. Balinese Music. Singapore: Periplus Eds. (HK) Ltd, 1998.  



Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.