There is a distinct link between dancing and Gamelan music. The dancing (known as ‘tari’) is coordinated with the music so certain gestures of the dance imitate musical gestures. A dancer must have a satisfactory understanding of the music, so that they can cue the musician.

Gamelan music is performed in both sacred rituals and for entertainment purposes. There is almost always dance involved, as it adds to the entertainment.

Gamelan music often portrays a story, which is represented through both the music and the dancing. The role of the dance is to convey the rhythm of the music.

Task: What musical elements can you identify that ‘fit’ or ‘move with’ the dance featured below?
List them in the comments section and build on the contextual extracts below the video! You may want to try this quiz before you listen Gamelan Music Quick Quiz.

“Javanese classical dance is divided into two main types, female (tari putri) and male (tari putra), the distinction between dance for men and women is not absolute. Male dance is further divided into two main character types, strong/dynamic (gagah) and refined (alus), and the latter roles are sometimes danced by women.”

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Gamelan Sekar Jaya. “Dance Ensemble,” 14th May 2014,
“Dance and repertoires,” 14th May, 2014,


Photo Credit: patrikmloeff