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News from PrisonerActionNet

Gamelan performance with Good Vibrations

13 May

We were lucky enough to be invited by Good Vibrations, an organisation that works with prisoners, ex-prisoners and others in the community, to a recital at HMP Elmley on 20 March.

They aim to help develop team-working, communication and other important life skills through participation in Gamelan workshops. The Gamelan is an Javanese percussion orchestra where each member has to listen to everyone else to fit their own part in. Speed and volume, as well as rythm and melody, must all be listened to and matched in order to preserve the overall coherence and harmony of the sound. 

"It's very important to our participants to have the opportunity to exhibit what they have learned through the week and also have a chance to express themselves in front of an audience, particularly in front of people they haven’t met before."

It was a fascinating day and it was great to see the kind of impact that this work can have in custodial settings. We were surprised at how quickly the prisoners at HMP Elmley had come together to create a fantastic sound (they had only discovered what a Gamelan orchestra was a few days before), and were even more impressed by the number of improvisational pieces that they performed also. One of the highlights of the day was seeing the prisoners conduct the orchestra themselves and how quickly they adapted to one another. We were even lucky enough to be invited to have a go ourselves and found jsut how difficult it is to play in such harmony. We thoroughly recommend trying to catch them at an upcoming play-through.

As far as we are aware the only other Gamelan orchestra in the UK is currently housed at the Southbank Centre in London, and you can even have a go yourself!

Find out more about Good Vibrations and their work on their website and on .

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