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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Gamelan Girdles the Globe

If I could choose the circumstances of an alternative life I might very well choose to be born in Bali at a time before modern Western influences. Bali, where "we have no art – everything we do is art", perfected a sustainable agriculture centuries ago; the people satisfied all their material needs with only three or four hours of work a day, and used the remainder of their time for creative endeavors and interactions with family and friends. Among the extraordinary achievements of the Balinese is their music, one form of which is the gamelan orchestra. I embraced this music wholeheartedly upon first hearing, as have many others, including Western musicians whose compositions were influenced by the gamelan.

Here is an image of a gamelan orchestra. Every gamelan is a set of matched instruments, in tune and in tone with one another. There are a number of amateur ensembles in the U.S. and I wish to someday have the opportunity to play with one of them.

This is a classical presentation from Bali.

This is Armenian-American Alan Hovhannes' Koke No Niwa (Moss Garden) for clarinet, harp, and percussion.

This is Californian-American composer Lou Harrison's Main Bersama-Sama (Playing Together).

And this is the British progressive rock band King Crimson's Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part 1.

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