Exposé Online banner

Gamelan Sekar Jaya — American Works for Balinese Gamelan Orchestra
(New World 80430-2, 1993, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-08-01

American Works for Balinese Gamelan Orchestra Cover art

The tiny island of Bali in Indonesia carries over a thousand years of rich musical tradition, originally founded in the collision of Javanese, Hindu, and indigenous cultures, the music of Bali is among the most unique in the world. The traditional music, based on a five-tone scale, is played by the "Gamelan Orchestra,” a large ensemble consisting of tuned bronze gongs (two or four sets, tuned high and low), metallophones (usually four or more of these), wooden end-blown flutes, bowed stringed instruments, hand drums, and other percussion. The music is written in such a way to require two pairs of metallophones and gongs interlocking in cycles (in live performances normally played on opposite sides of the stage), the primaries and secondaries frequently play in unison, and are slightly detuned from each other, the difference in tone creating a carefully calculated harmonic 'beating' effect. Live performances are combined with traditional costumed Balinese dance; the overall effect is nothing short of stunning. For this album, three American composers — Michael Tenzer, Wayne Vitale, and Evan Ziporyn — each of whom have studied classical gamelan with the Sekar Jaya group in northern California under the direction of Nyoman Windha, purported to be the finest gamelan orchestra outside of Indonesia — have created hybrid compositions using the traditional instruments of the gamelan with western instruments such as saxes, clarinet, guitar, cello, even vocals on one of the tracks. The degree of western influence varies from one track to the next — each of the five are unique unto themselves — but in all cases the gamelan orchestra is the basis of the compositions, not just used as an ornament for western styled music; this is very true to the traditional spirit. I suppose any further attempts at describing this extremely complex music here would be futile and pointless; it must be experienced to be understood. Highly recommended for open minded and adventurous listeners.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 4, 1993 releases

Related artist(s): Various Artists, Evan Ziporyn

More info
http://bit.ly/2SwQaGj

Latest news

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Residents - WB:RMX & 12 Days of Brumalia – If you need a Christmas album to scare your family and friends, look no further. The 12 Days of Brumalia was released as a downloadable album on the Residents web site in December of 2004, and is now...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues