Gamelan Samples

Does anyone have a link to a good free or low cost gamelan library? Preferably from a single gamelan orchestra.

I have checked out the free ‘Casa da Música’ one that is everywhere, but the recordings are very noisy.

Hoping to find one as my sound source for the lcrp…

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Try contacting Nicholas Brooke.
He is a professor at Bennington College who makes electronic Gamelan instruments.


I would love if you post what you find!!!

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i have not heard of the casa de musica one, but there are a couple in the Berklee (may be mistaken on this actually, looks like a larger sample library Berklee and other people contributed to) sample pack that are usable for my purposes: Here is the one I use most often, and there are a couple more one shots in other packs i have downloaded from here.



Not cheap, and I’ve not tried it, but Sonic Couture’s kontakt libraries are usually very good, so their Balinese Gamelan might be worth checking out.


The one looks good. How do I download the .zip file though?

i am not sure, sorry! i got it off the second link that now seems to be dead. if you google their name it should pop up somewhere (how i found the archive link)

Ah yes, thanks. Found it here for anyone else interested:

Strange the notes are all cut off so short though… like only 40% of the decay or so.

Native Instruments offers a slimmed down version of the Sonic Couture library - for a slimmed down price - it’s fairly good. I agree that Sonic Couture’s libraries, in general, are excellent. Additionally, if you purchase any of their samples, you can get a free Bowed Gamelan kit too.


On this same topic, where do you suggest finding other usual / non-western based rhythmic samples? I’m thinking African, Latin, Asian drums sounds.

I have the NI version, and it’s good for the price!

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wow, somehow i have never noticed that before. i typically layer them with other sounds in my tunes to try and mitigate the moral queasiness i get from appropriating sounds from cultures i am only passingly familiar with and i guess i have never noticed the weird decay issue or i definitely would have mentioned it! playing with loop points though you should be able to get a natural sounding decay trail, the initial transient is really what gives the gamelan its distinct feel in my opinion.


i really can’t recommend the stuff at the One Laptop Per Child page i linked to above enough, there’s all kinds of weird/great stuff on there for free from everywhere. big fan of the one on that page from Andres Cabrera that samples the tiple, an instrument i have only just looked up now while writing this comment but have used on several tunes over the past few years! it’s a colombian instrument from the same linage of the guitar.

and at the risk of stating the obvious, a lot of good stuff from around the world can be found at as well. also a lot of junk, but that’s part of the appeal with using noncommercial samples.


A gamelan ensemble is more expressive than a set of one-shots is going to reproduce faithfully. More likely than not, if you thought to yourself “I’d like to write gamelan music”, You need an honest-to-goodness multisampled library.

I do own the Sonic Couture library, although I think mine’s the slimmed down Ableton version. (I regret purchasing so many of their libraries in that format, because they’ve tied me to one platform. This was, of course, the point.) Anyway, Sonic Couture does great work, and I’d absolutely recommend them for anything percussive.

They are not free, however. And probably not “low cost”, either, to anyone who would ask in those terms.

Still. It’s a good investment, if you’re going to make regular use of this.

I’ve only ever heard a gamelan orchestra, in person, in two contexts.

The main one is universities. It’s taught, reverently, to western performers. I was one myself, a million years ago. The professor was very much Indonesian, and had basically made it his life’s mission to share as much of his culture as he could with us ungrateful kids.

The other context is at maker faires. There’s a guy who’s collected all the instruments and rigged them up with arduino-driven servos. He improvises on the whole ensemble by launching scenes in his Ableton set. It’s very cool. I’m all kinds of jealous.

In either of these cases, though, you’re looking at someone who’s studied the patterns and musical idioms, and is much closer to cultural appropriation than someone who just likes the sounds, I think. Because the gamelan isn’t just a set of instruments. It’s a musical framework. And that’s where the culture is.

Hitting things with sticks is sort of universal. Y’know? I wouldn’t feel bad about borrowing that.


Totally agree with all of that. You get what you pay for. I only mentioned the cost as it was likely not meeting the OP’s request, but thought it worth mentioning all the same.

One interesting alternative I should probably throw out there:

You can use a $4 resonator app to make your own “gamelan” samples.

I mean, do some research, use a tuner, get the pitches right. But you can put your own spin on the timbres, while still feeling somewhat authentic, or at least organic.

I wouldn’t recommend performing live with the app (unless your mic has really good isolation), but it does looks to be great for building simple percussion loops in the studio.

Just a thought.


My partner and I have signed up for this Gamelan course at the southbank center that starts tonight.

I’ll try and get some low quality samples of some low quality gamlelan :slight_smile:

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SOAS run a Gamalan course as well… always wanted to do one…

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I’m curious about this statement. How is someone studying a musical tradition closer to cultural appropriation than someone just borrowing tones and timbres? Isn’t cultural appropriation the adoption of superficial signifiers without respect to the meaning or context of the originating culture? Maybe that could fit for the Gamelatron (I assume that’s the reference), but I wouldn’t think students fall into that category.

To be clear, I have no issue in any case (and in full disclosure, have myself studied Gamelan), I’m more wondering if I’ve misunderstood the concept of cultural appropriation.

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