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International Music Resources by Country: Indonesia

International Music Resources offers an array of online and physical resources both freely available and/or offered by the George F. DeVine Music Library. The information included in these guides may serve as a starting point for the study and research of

Panoramic photo of Indonesia

Citation (1)

Map of Indonesia

Map of Indonesia

Citation (3)


Garland Encyclopedia of World Music-Indonesia

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Cover Art

Listen to Indonesian Music!

    Music of Indonesia, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2

Indonesian Popular Music Album Music

Gamelan de Solo Album Art

Facts in Brief

Flag of Indonesia


Capital: Jakarta

Official Language: Bahasa Indonesia

Area: 1,916,907 sq km

Current Population: 270,203,917

Climate: The climate is tropical, with an annual average temperature of 26°C (79°F) and heavy rainfall during most seasons.

Main Religions: Islam, Christianity

Citation (2)

Gamelan Music in Indonesia


Music is exclusively an ensemble tradition, reflecting the communally-organized society. Ensembles, collectively referred to as gamelan (or the Balinese term, gambelan), have historically served specific functions in religious ceremonies and (prior to their demise) in Balinese courts. A standard body of repertory exists in myriad versions and variants, owing to oral transmission and diverse regional styles and practices. Gamelan is mostly performed by men and boys; however, 17th-century manuscripts depict female court musicians, a practice that probably ended with the destruction of the courts in the Dutch conquest. Most villages possess communally-organized gamelan groups that perform for village ceremonial functions, some reaching professional status or employing professional musicians from elsewhere to direct and teach the groups.

Performance Context

The Pancayadnya (five ceremonial categories), which comprise all Balinese religious ceremonies, honour the living (manusayadnya, rites of passage including weddings and tooth filings), the dead (pitrayadnya, e.g. cremations), the gods (dewayadnya, e.g. temple ceremonies), sages (resiyadnya) and demons (bhutayadnya). Music plays a powerful role of accompanying ceremonies: gamelan ensembles, genres, and repertories are associated with each category and with functions within each category, depending on, for example, the ensemble’s age, tuning system, timbre, and dynamic general, the older the genre, the more sacred and unchangeable it is.


Most Balinese music is transmitted orally. Notation is rarely used in the transmission process and never in performance. However, versions of the notational system known as grantangan are used for preserving the skeletal pitches of long compositions. Syllables comprising the pitch notation systems are also used as vocalized mnemonics in teaching. There are several such systems. The oldest, used in gamelan gambang and other seven-tone sacred ensembles, is derived from sacred vocal music notation in which the vowels of poetry are translated into musical pitches. 


Gamelan are comprised of gongs, metallophones, xylophones, gong-chimes, drums, cymbals, flutes, and spiked fiddles in various combinations. Materials of construction include bronze, iron, wood, and bamboo. Gongs range in size from small to very large. Most are hung vertically and struck with a padded mallet and provide a framework that marks the form. Metallophones are in pairs and consist of two types: with keys suspended over bamboo resonators (e.g. gender), and with keys resting on trough resonators (e.g. gangsa jongkok). Various sizes of two-headed drums (kendang) are played with and without mallets. 

Citation (4)

Sjukur, Slamet Abdul

Indonesian composer Slamet Abdul Sjukar

Slamet Abdul Sjukar

 Indonesian composer . After piano lessons from the age of nine, he studied at the Indonesian Music Academy in Yogyakarta (1952–6). In 1957, already well-known as a composer, Sjukur co-founded an important musical institute in Surabaya. Between 1962 and 1967 he studied analysis with Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire and composition with Dutilleux at the Ecole Normale de Musique on a French government scholarship. In Paris he also worked with the Groupe de Recherches Musicales under the leadership of Schaeffer. On his return to Indonesia in 1976, Sjukur taught composition at the Jakarta Arts Institute until 1987, familiarising the younger generation of Indonesian composers with European contemporary music. In the 1970s he was seen as an eccentric personality and was associated by the general public with the strangeness of contemporary music. Sjukur has often used mathematical themes as the basis for his compositions, for example OM for string ensemble, commissioned for the 1995 Contemporary Music and Dance Festival. In the late 1990s he became increasingly interested in using the aesthetic concepts of traditional Indonesian music, such as gamelan, in his compositions.

Citation: Raden, F.  Sjukur, Slamet Abdul. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 25 Oct. 2021, from


(1): "Pantai Balangan" by "Ya, saya inBaliTimur"

(2): Location, Climate, Language, Religion, Flag, Capital (Indonesia), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 19 October 2021 from


(4): Yampolsky, P., Sumarsam, D., Gold, L., Seebass, T., Brinner, B., Crawford, M., Cook, S., Cohen, M., Perlman, M., Gorlinski, V., Kartomi, M., Basile, C., Sutton, R., & Raden, F.  Indonesia. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 20 Oct. 2021, from