In 1966, Professor of Musicology William Malm bought a gamelan for the University of Michigan. Housed under the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments, the gamelan was named Kyai Telaga Madu (Venerable Lake of Honey) and became the project of Judith Becker, who set about learning how to play each instrument. In 1968, the U-M Gamelan Ensemble was formed under Becker’s directorship. Susan Pratt Walton took over directing the ensemble in 1990 and introduced the music, dance, and puppetry of Central Java to the stage in Ann Arbor. The gamelan program often features performances by eminent Javanese artists-in-residence. Since 1968, the ensemble has also explored new music composed for gamelan, helped in the training of an important generation of scholars of Southeast Asian music, and exposed students from all areas of the university to the vibrant culture of Indonesia.
How to Explore
The Gamelan tour is best experienced on mobile devices. For desktop users, we recommend launching the experience in Firefox.
Please be patient, the program takes a little while to load, but it is worth it!
If you’re unfamiliar with video game controls, moving around might take some getting used to. Our friends at Saganworks have created a tutorial to learn all of the ways you can move around the exhibit.
To get a closer look, double-click any panels or open them in a new window.
The Gamelan Tour was created with substantial assistance from Chuyi Zhu, a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology. She is also pursuing a Certificate in Museum Studies Program at U-M.