Various Artists

Bali: Roots of Gamlan

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Recordings found in a private collection stemming from a failed attempt at creating an indigenous market for gamelan music in 1928. The record series from which these recordings came failed miserably, but the performances themselves are quite well-done, and among other things provided inspiration for composer Colin McPhee (whose work is presented at the end of the album). The album starts out with a good deal of the gong kebyar form, with the piece "Kebyar Ding" broken into six movements (for recording onto the old 78s), followed by a pair of short, stand-alone works in the kebyar style. From there, it moves into a few pieces in the pelegongan form, telling a bit of the Calonarang epic, and adding in a pair of original compositions by I Wayan Lotring. A short stop in Northwest Bali for a pair of gong kebyar numbers leads the way to a gender wayan composition (for use with the wayang kulit shadow plays). A short composition in the jangger style is followed by a pair of gamelan angklung works, leading the way to the finale of the album. For the final number of tracks, Colin McPhee himself (along with Benjamin Britten) performs piano transcriptions of the music he was unable to record aurally while staying in Bali. It's a thoroughly detached version of gamelan, free of the ringing intonation that so much defines the genre. Nonetheless, it's an interesting attempt at converting the sounds into those of the piano. Flutist Georges Berrère provides accompaniment as well on a few tracks. It's an interesting mix of the old forms of gamelan and the earliest attempts at Western instrumentation using Balinese music as inspiration. The gamelan represented here is itself enough of a reason to give the album a listen or two, and the piano versions are simply additional treats for the curious armchair music historian.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:06
2
3:03
3
3:01
4
2:59
5
2:53
6
3:08
7
2:55
8
2:53
9
2:41
10
2:55
11
2:52
12
2:45
13
2:52
14
2:46
15
2:50
16
2:41
17
3:00
18
3:10
19
2:47
20
2:55
21
1:36
22
1:28
23
2:42
24
2:13
25
1:53
blue highlight denotes track pick