SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Dr Nick Gray

PhD (London)
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Nick Gray
Department of Music

Research Associate

SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

Academic Staff, Centre of South East Asian Studies

Dr Nick Gray
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Nick Gray is a composer and a performer of gendér wayang, the small group of metallophones that accompanies the Balinese shadow play. He also composes for various genres including rock and experimental music. Nick is author of Improvisation and composition in Balinese gendér wayang (Ashgate 2011) as well as numerous articles on gendér wayang. His music groups include ‘Segara Madu’ (Balinese gendér wayang) and ‘My Tricksy Spirit’ (psychedelic gamelan trip hop). Nick is interested in the nature of composition and performance, collaborative artistic practices, music in the context of total theatre, music and religion, and altered states of consciousness. He teaches on many aspects of South East Asian music, as well as performance and composition. Recent projects include “The Birth of Kala” and “The Watchers by the Well” with story teller and movement artist Tim Jones, “Bawang Merah Bawang Putih” with choreographer and dancer Ni Made Pujawati, and an album ‘My Tricksy Spirit’ with producer Rob Shipster and bassist/guitarist Charlie Cawood.


PhD Students supervised
  • Emily Sayers, Cognitive Aspects of North Indian Classical Music: How Children Learn to Compose and Improvise in an Oral Tradition
  • James Anthony Gardner, The Course of the Hand: Formulas, Creativity and Processes of "Improvisation" in Mande Kora Music
  • Patrick Allen, Excellence and Inclusion in Music Education: Working with Chagossian Teenagers in an English Comprehensive School


"The Watchers by the Well"

by Tim Jones (storyteller) and Segara Madu (Balinese gendér wayang group: Paula Friar, Rachel Hewitt and Nick Gray).

Watch this performance on YouTube.

1st November 2014, Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS, University of London, part of the SEA ArtsFest 2014 (

Segara Madu blends Balinese instruments with violin and electronics in this retelling of  "The Watchers by the Well", a folk-tale from the English-Welsh borders collected by Ruth L. Tongue (1970:110-16).

Gendér wayang is the name given to a small quartet or duo of bronze metallophones, used in Bali to accompany the shadow play (wayang kulit), a sacred drama based on stories from ancient Indian epics.

The programme:

1) Three Balinese gendér wayang pieces taught by I Wayan Locéng in Sukawati village in south Bali:

"Partha Wijaya"

2) "The Watchers by the Well" (music by Nick Gray): a story with music. Includes an excerpt from "The Prayer of Protection" (traditional English, transcribed in Tongue 1967: 99) and from "Oxford City" (traditional English; a version can be found in Vaughan Williams and Lloyd 1959: 83).

3) "Sekar Sungsang" A Balinese gendér wayang piece taught by I Nyoman Gunawan and I Wayan Mudita in Tenganan village, east Bali.

  • Ruth L. Tongue (1970) Forgotten folk-tales of the English counties. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Ruth L. Tongue (1967) The Chime Child or Somerset singers: being an account of some of them and their songs collected over sixty years. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  • Ralph Vaughan Williams and A. L. Lloyd, eds. (1959) The Penguin book of English folk songs. London: Penguin Books Ltd.


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Available for
Regional Expertise
  • South East Asia
Country Expertise


Authored Books

Gray, Nick (2011) Improvisation and composition in Balinese gendér wayang: music of the moving shadows. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Limited.


Gray, Nick (2019) 'Ardhanariswara: A Composition-as-Research Project for String Quartet and Dance'. Brief Encounters, (3) 1, pp 102-107.

Gray, Nick (2013) 'Reflections on composing for Balinese gendér wayang: The Birth of Kala'. Analytical Approaches to World Music, (2) 2, pp 100-147.

Gray, Nick (2010) 'Of one family? Improvisation, variation and composition in Balinese gendér wayang'. Ethnomusicology, (54) 2, pp 224-256.

Gray, Nick (1992) 'Sulendra: an example of petegak in the Balinese gender wayang repertory'. British Journal of Ethnomusicology, (1), pp 1-16.

Gray, Nick (1990) 'An introduction to the Sukawati style of Balinese gender wayang'. Indonesia Circle, (18) 52, pp 45-54.

Book Chapters

Gray, Nick (2015) '"Sudamala" (freed from evil): exploring a ritual piece for Balinese gendér wayang'. In: Harris, Rachel and Pease, Rowan, (eds.), Pieces of the musical world: sounds and cultures. New York; London: Routledge, pp 154-167.


Gray, Nick (2012) 'The Birth of Kala - a Balinese tale'.


Gray, Nick (2017) '"Ardhanariswara" for string quartet and dance'.

Gray, Nick (2016) '391 for gamelan'.

Gray, Nick (2016) '12 violin pieces (revision of 2007 composition)'.

Gray, Nick (2015) 'Bawang Merah Bawang Putih / 12 Violin Pieces'.

Gray, Nick (2014) '"The Watchers by the Well"'.

Gray, Nick (2012) 'The Birth of Kala'.


Gray, Nick (2018) 'Segara Madu: Balinese gender wayang'.

Gray, Nick (2017) 'My Tricksy Spirit'.


Gray, Nick (2007) No tree is untouched by the wind: Aspects of composition and improvisation in Balinese gender wayang.. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. [Unpublished]


This list was last generated on Thursday, 30th June 2022, 00:11 Europe/London.