The Meet4Music series has been initiated by the Institute of Music Education in 2016 and the Institute for Ethnomusicology has supported this initiative right from the start by offering to take part in performing Javanese gamelan music. Students but also anybody else interested may join and gain new experience with making music in an ensemble. Specific previous knowledge is not required. Enrolling is only necessary for students who want to get credits for taking part in Meet4Music as a university course.
There are several reasons why Javanese gamelan music is esteemed in Western countries and especially at universities. The size of the ensemble is flexible and thus well-suited to accommodate various line-ups from smaller to larger groups. Especially beginners get a chance to join without having to achieve a high technical level of proficiency first, while more experienced and versatile performers find a wide range of musical challenges. Due to the fact that the instruments require quite different levels of technical capabilities both groups of performers can be accommodated within one ensemble. The special way of interacting in the ensemble, the spectacular design and – for Westerners – unusual sound and tuning of the instruments ensure a rich experience for any open-minded person interested in new musical experiences. Such ensembles can also provide a setting for meeting people from various cultures including instructors well-versed in the tradition of Javanese gamelan music.
In 2004 our university acquired a complete set of gamelan instruments which had been made in 1998 by the famous builder Bapak Tentrem Sarwanto in Surakarta (Java). According to Central Javanese tradition a gamelan is usually given a name, in our case Sekar Rasa Tentrem. The set consists of two halves, one tuned to a pentatonic, and the other to a heptatonic scale. Several additional instruments, which are not found in a standard set, add to our collection.
In addition to Meet4Music gamelan music can also be learned in the course called “Musikalisches Praktikum Gamelan”, which is part of the musicology study program on the BA level. There is also the KUG gamelan ensemble directed by Sarah Weiss. Its regular rehearsals have resulted in several public performances already. New members are always welcome, no previous knowledge is required.