Gamelan Si Betty, built in 1979 by Lou Harrison and William Colvig, was named for its benefactor, Betty Freeman.
It is modeled on the court gamelan of Central Java, in particular, the Central Javanese Gamelan Kyai Udan Mas at U.C. Berkeley. Si Betty is perhaps the largest American-built gamelan in terms of numbers of instruments, able to accommodate over 30 instrumental players, as well as vocalists.
Gamelan Si Betty came to Harvard in the Fall of 2007. The instruments were left to Jody Diamond, who had worked with Harrison for over 20 years. As an Artist in Residence in the Harvard Music Department, Ms. Diamond directs a community ensemble, and gamelan is also serves as a performance lab for courses in the music department. The gamelan has been used in other projects as well, and is open to all departments for collaborative work.
Si Betty's instruments, like those of its Javanese counterparts, are divided into two sets, one tuned in 5-tone slendro, the other in 7-tone pelog. Both scale systems of Si Betty are realized in just intonation, chosen after Lou Harrison sought approval from the Javanese master K.R. T. Wasitodipuro.
On the right, the top photo was taken by Jody Diamond as the group rehearsed for a performance at the Cabrillo Music Festival in 1982. Lou Harrison is the white-bearded gentleman in the plaid shirt. The bottom photo is of the Si Betty Gamelan Group for New Music performing at ArtsFirst, Harvard's annual spring campus-wide arts festival.
Scores for the gamelan compositions of Lou Harrison are published by the American Gamelan Institute,