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Felicia Danon North dancing Topeng Rumyang, a masked dance from Cirebon, Indonesia

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Instruments of the Gamelan

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Gamelan Sinar Surya is a Santa Barbara arts organization dedicated to preserving, teaching and performing traditional Gamelan music. Gamelan is the enchanting Southeast Asian orchestra which includes gongs, chimes, xylophones, flutes and drums. Played from royal palaces to humble villages, the tradition of Gamelan has been maintained in Indonesia and Malaysia since ancient times, and has fascinated Westerners since Sir Francis Drake first heard it in Java in 1580. The atmosphere created by Gamelan can range from delicate mystical lyricism to powerful dynamism.

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Gamelan Sinar Surya live at the Music Academy of the West

Our name "Sinar Surya", meaning "The Rays of the Sun", refers to the shining sun motif depicted on the large Gong stands of our two beautiful Gamelan orchestras. A reminder of the warm tropical land in which Gamelan music was born, it seems right at home with the delightful sunny climate of Santa Barbara. On a spiritual level, these "Rays" can be said to symbolize the positive energy radiating out from the sonorous Gongs of the Gamelan.

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Carving on Gong Stand of our Gamelan Prawa

There are numerous distinct regional styles of Gamelan. Our focus is the rare and beautiful old forms of this music from Northwest Java (Cirebon), Sunda, and Malaysia. The music is considered sacred, and is at once a sensual, spiritual and social pleasure to play.

Gamelan Sinar Surya has two complete gamelan orchestras. The blue Prawa (5-tone) set plays the gamelan repertoires of Cirebon, Sunda and Malaysia. The green Pelog (7-tone) set plays gamelan music of Cirebon, as well as the Sundanese chamber music known as Degung.

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Gamelan Sinar Surya live at the Goleta Valley Library

The director of Gamelan Sinar Surya, Richard North, has been studying, teaching and performing Gamelan music since 1972, from the villages of Sunda to the royal palaces of Cirebon. For anyone interested in learning to play this magical music, ongoing classes are offered in our home studio on Sunday evenings. No previous musical experience is required. Beginners are welcome! Please contact Richard North if interested: (805) 895-0592

Anyone interested in learning to play in the Gamelan, commissioning a performance, or purchasing one of our CD's can call (805) 895-0592, or write to us at

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Painting on Gong Stand of our Gamelan Pelog

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