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

2021-02-14
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more

2021-02-10
Chick Corea RIP – The sad news has reached us that Chick Corea has Returned to Forever, so to speak. The innovative keyboardist and composer died on February 9 at the age of 79. With a career that spanned from the 60s until shortly before his death, Corea touched many listeners with the incredible variety of music he produced in his lifetime. » Read more

2021-01-18
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more

2020-12-09
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more

2020-11-20
25 Views of Worthing Finally Gets Released – A while ago, we wrote about the discovery of a "long lost" Canterbury-style gem by a band called 25 Views of Worthing. And now we're pleased to find out that Wind Waker Records has released their music on an LP. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Wind - Seasons – Wind were one of those early 70s German underground bands who were influenced by hard-rock bands like Deep Purple on one hand, but also have an Emersonian classically-influenced keyboard presence on...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues