Balinese Gamelan Music

Michael Tenzer

Periplus 2011
A book review by Danny Yee © 2014
Balinese Gamelan Music is a short, nicely illustrated introduction, pitched perhaps at discerning tourists ("visitors, plus admirers and would-be visitors") but touching on a good range of material, in surprising depth given its length and with ethnomusicological sophistication. It would make a useful starting point for students.

A brief background history of Balinese music in its regional context is followed by an introduction to gamelan instruments, an explanation of the basics of gamelan music, and a working through in some detail of the music for the first part of the Baris dance. The emphasis in this is on gong kebyar, but a broader survey follows, encompassing bamboo, sacred, and lesser-known ensembles. There's also a brief account of the place of music in Balinese society, given life by biographies of three musicians from different generations.

Tenzer himself is a composer and performer as well as a scholar, and conveys a feel for what is very much a live tradition. He includes some advice on getting involved with Balinese music, both in Bali and abroad. And a final chapter, added in this 2011 third edition, covers the last twenty years. (The work was originally published in 1991 and earlier editions had the shorter title Balinese Music.)

December 2014

External links:
- buy from
- buy from or
- share this review on Facebook or Twitter
Related reviews:
- books about Indonesia + Indonesian history
- books about music
- books published by Periplus
%T Balinese Gamelan Music
%A Tenzer, Michael
%I Periplus
%D 2011
%O paperback, glossary, index
%G ISBN 9780804841863
%P 208pp