While working for London Contemporary Dance Theatre between 1971-1985, references to Indonesian music
began to emerge in my compositions for dance. These initial interests in east and south-east asian music
arose from purchases of Chinese gongs and various opera percussion instruments. Combined with African
hand drums, the metallic tonalities of gongs set my cultural interests aflame, and the loan of 15 Burmese
gongs turned the flames considerably higher. I set about exploring how I might integrate the subtle tonalities
of all these instruments. The fourth version of the dance work CLASS (1977) choreographed by Robert
Cohan, and another work ANCESTORAL (1978) for choreographer Stewart Arnold, were of great significance
for me. As I hadn’t at that time been able to locate any opportunities for tuition in east and south-east asian
music, these compositions simply emerged out of my imagination. Direct work with gamelan ensembles
wouldn’t begin until 1987 in the USA when I  began to perform and write directly for Gamelan Pacifica in
Seattle. Returning to Scotland in 1996, I continued my studies working with Gamelan Naga Mas in Glasgow.
Introduction to the Indonesian Gamelan Orchestra
It’s not always necessarily to travel abroad to study gamelan, as teachers coming to Europe and
the Americas often provide an essential introduction to the Gamelan. The music is accessible for
beginners. Over the course of a single session participants form an ensemble that can perform
cohesively and experience music at a highly interactive level. Participants as young as 7 or 8 can
enjoy and benefit from sessions. The haunting sounds and sheer beauty of these instruments
makes sure of that. Learning music from the Indonesian tradition develops musical skills along
the way. Sessions can last up to two hours. Beginners are easily integrated in ensemble practice.
Program are frequently aimed to enlarge cultural experience, and allow participants to return
with musical knowledge that will enhance their own cultural activities. It is usual to work with up
to 15 participants or less at a time, and to concentrate on the experience of making music as an
ensemble. Traditional or original music compositions are first taught by ear and then by a form of
non-western music notation. Previous musical experience might be helpful, but it by no means
essential. Community groups are often formed to provide tuition, and gamelan can be found at
universities and academies.
Luminous Gamelan concepts and ideologies centred primarily on the discovery
and innovation of new works. Discovery could be promoted as workshops for new
beginners, or as compositional exploration by professional musicians where
innovation took on heightened properties. Using ‘Luminous’ as a brand allowed
me to be free from traditional restraints, yet at the same time I couldn’t help but
acknowledge my debt to the deep traditions and practices in east and south-east
asian music. Frequently I juxtaposed the more unorthodox instruments from my
own collection for what might have been used in gamelan cultures.
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Creative Gamelan Music
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guide to the
        Luminous Gamelan
               contemporary gamelan music
Luminous in education
Undoubtedly, the influence of gamelan music has been a
steady growth throughout eastern and western cultures,
and has been of benefit to composers such as myself. To
meet the challenges of working with unusual instruments
outside ones own culture, it is usually helpful to find
opportunities to study extra-cultural music at source, to
learn music customs from the tradition. Of course one can
just plunge in like I did. Yet even that might not have been
possible had it not been for the help of a certain purveyor at
Eastern Music Instruments, my friend Raymond Man, and
the endless supply of instruments at his London store.
Undoubtedly, gamelan music has been a strong influence. Much of the music below shows a clear
and empathetic relation to the culture of the gamelan. The lists of different pieces of music
(below) are from different periods, some before work directly with gamelan ensembles in the USA
and UK. The music appears on different CD’s and albums. There are many samples that can be
found on this website, as well as on the Luminous Music site: http://luminousmusics.co.uk
TOPENG KERAS  (traditional)
For young people it is normal to learn gamelan music primarily by ear,
emphasizing the skills of listening and memorisation. Introductory
workshops on a full set of gamelan instruments allow participants to get to
grips with basic instrument techniques and skills. Within a short time a
sense of group identity is gained, and as this ‘instant ensemble’ begins to
cohere, very interesting music is being made.

During these projects participants worked in once or twice weekly sessions,
either using the gamelan itself or translating their gamelan experiences
onto western instruments. Processes of exploration and creativity began to
unfold. Short pieces emerged, some were simple, groovy and beat oriented;
yet at other times the music was more abstract. Pieces could be hauntingly
beautiful or challenging yet most of it presented unusual ways of thinking
about music. Frequently all members of the group pitched in to help one
another. With an increased awareness of music making, one day they might
return to the gamelan to further explore the new music they can make, now
infused with cross-cultural implications.
The sounds of Indonesian instruments are coherent and relaxing. The tonalities seem
to function on several levels at once, triggering levels of discovery, excitement and
pleasure as well as helping participants make better sense of western instruments.
Initial instructions to approach and learn to play the instruments comes from
tradition itself, perhaps with the aid of a short traditional music piece. From that
point on the focus of these workshops centred on developing coordination and
technique by means of devising original music ideas.

Small groups formed. Duets, trios, quartets, giving participants access to one
instrument each. During these sessions, creative-music approaches and game
structures helped unlock the mysteries of the composer-performer. Performances
at the conclusion of the project allowed  participants to show their compositions
on the gamelan, and even to translate their ideas on western instruments.
Creative Workshops for Beginners
A few music pieces are located at link below:

Other pieces/samples are on various CD's in Music Catalogue
History: Luminous Music educational programmes