Gamelan music of Java - Kinds of flowers - Puspawarna -in Space (Yoyager Golden Record)

June 11, 2011 | Bill V.

Comments (4)

I find the Gamelan music of Java and Bali Indonesia intoxicating.   Imagine something like a Western orchestra composed of numerous instruments - but ones that only play together as a complete entity.  So, while the instruments stay constant over the generations, the various musicians change.  Gamelan music can also be accompanied by singing.  There are a selection of books on Gamelans available at the library as well as a wide variety of LP records and CDs

There is even a national connection to Gamelan and the music of Indonesia through Colin McPhee who was a Canadian composer and musicologist and the first Western composer to seriously study and write about it. He was a pioneer in attempting to merge Eastern and Western music.  The Library has both books and also CDs/LPs that cover his life and work.  His best known work is Tabuh-Tabuhan.

A Guide to the Gamelan by Nick Sorrell     A Gamelan Manual  A player's guide to the central Javanese gamelan

PuspaWarna, a piece of gamelan music,  was sent into space as part of the Golden Record on the Voyager Spacecraft (see below for more details).  There are several different versions available to listen to at the Toronto Reference Library.  Amazon has many Gamelan CDs available, including one that has two different versions of PuspaWarna.




Javanese Gamelan music has become quite popular in the United States as a musical endeavor - there are many non traditional groups who perform. Gamelan Nyai Saraswati is an ensemble group from the Music Department of  the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has one such group where they've done a version of Puspawarna/ Kinds of Flowers.  There are several different versions available on Youtube.



There are some other recordings of Indonesian music at the Performing Arts Deptartment  of the Toronto Reference Library, 5th floor. The Toronto Reference Library also has a small collection of books in the Indonesian language at the Languages Centre, 5th floor. Some of the books can be borrowed and some are to be used only at the library.


Image of Voyager Golden Record by NASA

This is our third blog post, part of a series on the Voyager Golden Record that was launched into Space in 1977 on board the Voyager spacecraft. The astronomer and scientist Carl Sagan headed a team who selected images and sounds portraying the diverse life and culture on Earth, and here is the complete Voyager music list. Carl Sagan wrote the book "Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record" about the Voyager project.

The music and musicians featured in this blog series so far are:

 More posts are coming!