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Musical Instrument Museum's Balinese Gamelan Workshop Starts Tonight

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Hammer time.

Beginning tonight and continuing through May, folks can get their Indonesian music on during the Musical Instrument Museum's Balinese Gamelan Workshop led by MIM curatorial assistant Colin Pearson.

A gamelan, by the way, isn't a particular percussive instrument like a snare drum or a cymbal. Rather, the term typically refers to the ensemble music of the Indonesian islands of Bali and Java.

A classic gamelan lineup includes varieties of xylophones, hand drums, gongs, string instruments, bamboo flutes, and, when appropriate, singers. Much of the time, actual hammers are used to coax sounds from percussive instruments that undergo a complex tuning procedure -- the word gamelan is a Javanese derivative of gamels, which means "to strike or hammer."

This means that M.C. Hammer was flat out wrong when he said that you can't touch this.

For a local example of gamelan, check out Sungsang, who performs from time to time at spots like Revolver Records and Trunk Space. If you want to hardcore nerd out before attending the workshop that's open to all skill levels, check out this introductory guide.

The shindig takes place at 6:30 p.m. every first and third Thursday of the month through May 19 at the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 East Mayo Boulevard. Per class cost is $20. Call 480-478-6000 or go to www.themim.org.

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