Electronic Gamelan, or e-gamelan, is the name of an iOS app that has been created by students and lecturers of the University of Dian Nuswantoro (Udinus) Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia. The app brings the complete sound of Indonesia’s traditional instrument, the Javanese gamelan, which is a large set of xylophones, drums, and gongs. The precision of percussive tones is similar to the original gamelan.
Udinus is an IT-oriented university in Semarang. The e-Gamelan team has performed in many countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan. In the country, they have performed for the Governor of Central Java. Later in October, the team will perform at the State Palace.
Team member Ikhsanuddin Mohammed Rahmatullah said that the e-Gamelan community formed about two years ago. All the gamelan objects and sound recordings are taken from the Sri Kuncoro Mulyo Gamelan in Indonesia’s historical music studio, Lokananta in Surakarta. Starting with the inception of the e-Gamelan project by one of the lecturers, they began thinking how to create the modern gamelan. Rahmat said:
This is faculty research. We are under a research body and community service. It started when we won a competition set by the minister of Education and Cultural Affairs.
The purpose of the e-Gamelan app is to attract youth towards traditional music at a time when kids are gravitating towards western pop music – or popular music in general. E-Gamelan rises to the challenge via the iPad app. To achieve these goals, the community works with kids on the e-Gamelan app/program as an extracurricular activity at several high schools in Semarang. As a result, the students are said to have become more interested in the gamelan.
According to Rahmat, after using e-Gamelan, players can sort of play the original traditional instrument. However, to use the app, you don’t need to know the Javanese instrument. Approximately, it takes two days to be able to smoothly play e-Gamelan.
Several types of gamelan can not be played in the app – or maybe in any app – because of inevitable difficulties with complex actions on a touchscreen. So you won’t find the gender gamelan, the two-headed drum called the kendang, and the two-stringed fiddle called rebab.
e-Gamelan can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for US$5.99. The purchase price of the app will be used by the team partly to preserve the original gamelan – the other half of the income of course goes towards app production and recording costs. Before you buy, check out a demo video here: