GAMELAN BALI MODERN
Track 1 – 3:46 – ‘Baccalane’
by I Made Subandi (after John Cage’s ‘Bacchanale’),
Gamelan Ceraken, Batuyang
Track 2 – 9:05 – ‘Kupu-Kupu Kuning’ (Brahms lurking)
by I Made Subandi, Gamelan Ceraken, Batuyang
Track 3 – 19:00 – ‘In Sondong’
improvised variations on ‘Sekar Gadhung’,
Gamelan Selonding Guna Winangun, Tenganan
Track 4 – 26:30 – ‘In Dung’
a semi-improvised creation, Gamelan Semar Pegulingan, Teges
Tracks 1, 2, 4:
Recorded at Bali Purnati Center for the Arts, 29 July 2012 (1 and 2) and 23 June 2011 (4)
Recorded at Tenganan, Bali, 3 July 2011
Cover photo: detail of a ceiling painting at Kertha Gosa (Hall of Justice), Klungkung, Bali
Recording, Mastering, and Photos: John Noise Manis
The two pieces in Tracks 1 and 2 by I Made Subandi, one of the most interesting contemporary artists in Bali at present, were recorded during the sessions devoted to the remarkable and successful project ‘Gamelan Cage’. As some of the readers might know, such project produced a CD by the same title, which contains ten of Cage’s pieces for prepared piano (1945-48) brilliantly arranged for Balinese gamelan by Andy McGraw (highly recommendable reading are his liner notes) and masterly performed by the group of young players of Sanggar Ceraken.
‘Baccalane’ is a jokingly titled takeoff on Cage’s ‘Bacchanale’.
‘Kupu-Kupu Kuning’ (Yellow Butterfly) is an original composition that Subandi prepared for this production. It shows the composer’s unique musical language which, in the perception of this writer, contains some vague character of ‘romanticism’ (hence the production’s addition to the title).
Track 3 takes us to the Bali Aga village of Tenganan, where a special type of gamelan – Selunding or Selonding – is played on iron instruments of ancient design. In this secluded village the undisputed master musician is Pak Gunawan, who was kind enough to respond to our musical requests. In addition to a number of pieces from the traditional repertoire, he provided his version of what was to be an improvisation in a minimalist style (we were in the context of the ‘Returning Minimalism’ project that led to the ‘Tunjuk sessions’, subsequently released on CD as ‘In Deng’ and ‘In Ding’). Pak Gunawan with his seven musicians opted for a set of improvised variations after the classical piece ‘Sekar Gadhung’, which is heard at the beginning of the track.
‘In Sondong’ relates to the note of the musical scale on which the cyclically repeating themes are grounded, as a reference to the original (left in a distant background) concept-model piece which was Terry Riley’s ‘In C’.
Track 4 tells of another outcome of the ‘Returning Minimalism’ idea. Here, again, having Riley’s concept-model as a starting point, good music resulted in the end, but in various different directions. (The closest actualizations of the ‘In C’ model were obtained with the ‘Tunjuk sessions’ (2011), already mentioned, and with the ‘Semara Ratih sessions’ (2012), ‘In Deung’ and ‘In Dang’, also published on CD).
Here the 25 musicians of Teges village composed, over a period of three days, an elegantly articulated piece where in turn various musical episodes and languages catch and maintain the listener’s attention. The minimalist-repetitive style is quite present throughout and is interestingly modulated in the various timbres of the gamelan orchestra (including the intervention of ‘incompatible’ instruments of the 4-note anklung gamelan). But more traditional parts and their dramatic bursts of fine kebyar music are also incorporated in the extended unfolding of the sequence.
YANTRA – Production and Digital Release