Balinese Gamelan

Tones of Balinese Gamelan: Ding, Dong, Dèng, Dung, Dang

Selisir Form of Pelog Scale: MIDI. >play

Ancient Traditions Book Cover

Further study on this subject: Ancient Traditions–Future Possibilities:
Rhythmic Training Through the Traditions of Africa, Bali and India.

By Matthew Montfort. Ancient Future Music (1985).
ISBN 0-937879-00-2. Book/CD Set- 74.95. SALE! $53.95:

30 Minute Online Lesson.
Custom private lesson via Skype or other service. $44:

A gamelan is an ensemble normally composed primarily of percussion. In Bali, orchestras of tuned gongs, bronze kettles, bronze metallophones, bamboo xylophones, drums, cymbals and flutes fill the night air with animated music. Melodic parts interlock, divided in such a way that musicians play alternate notes to form the melody line. These interlocking parts, known as kotèkan, require cooperation and a keen sense of rhythm to perform. The two parts of a kotèkan, which are thought of as male and female, are known as nyangsih  and polos. The main accents of the nyangsih part are usually on the offbeat, while the main accents of the polos part are usually on the beat.

Knowledge of kotèkan can be extremely valuable. These interlocking rhythms have a unique way of bringing people together in cooperation towards a common goal, and there are many creative possibilities for applying them to contemporary music.

The book Ancient Traditions–Future Possibilities, by Matthew Montfort, contains exercises that teach these rhythms. Some of these exercises are presented here.

Balinese Rhythm Exercises

Kotèkan Basics

Kotèkan Basics is a beginning exploration of the art of interlocking parts. Includes complete instructions, notation, and a MIDI file. A beginning level example from Ancient Traditions–Future Possibilities, Chapter 2, Exercise II, page 49.


Anklung is an intermediate level Gamelan Anklung kotèkan from Ancient Traditions–Future Possibilities, Chapter 2, Exercise III D, page 51. This kotèkan was used as the basis for the composition "Gamarock" from the Ancient Future release Dreamchaser. More examples of the contemporary use of the kotèkan concept can be found in the Ancient Future introductory pages theme music (from World Without Walls).

Link to Balinese Gamelan Notation
(3K GIF of Anklung  in Music Notation)


This is an advanced level example of the composition "Pèrmas"  from the repertoire of the Gamelan Semar Pegulingan,  the "gamelan of the love God," as shown in Ancient Traditions–Future Possibilities, Chapter 2, Exercise V-B, page 54.

Link to Balinese Gamelan Notation
(107K GIF of Pèrmas  in Music Notation)

Further Resources

Using MIDI

GM Standard MIDI files of Balinese rhythm exercises from the book are presented here, arranged for General MIDI vibraphones. Use this to practice Balinese interlocking parts, or for compositional ideas. Computers with multimedia capabilities now come configured for MIDI playback via web browsers. To set up playback on a MIDI synthesizer or sampler, see the MIDI map of the instruments of the Balinese gamelan.

Ancient Rhythms–Future Grooves

Ancient Rhythms–Future Grooves: Audio and MIDI Percussion Groove Tracks from the Traditions of Africa, Bali, and India. Want more audio and MIDI files? Get this complete collection of groove tracks from the book Ancient Traditions–Future Possibilities. For a limited time, get both the book and the enhanced audio CD set with MIDI files for only $53.95 (SALE! Normally $74.95): Add 1 to Cart. Buy 1 Now.

Skype School

Skype online music lesson guitar pick icon carved in Bali for Matthew Montfort

Further instruction on this material is available through private Skype lessons with the author, Matthew Montfort.