Various Artists

Music of Indonesia, Vol. 15: South Sulawesi Strings

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As part of Smithsonian Folkways' Music of Indonesia series, volume 15 covers stringed instruments from the southern end of the island of Sulawesi (formerly Celebes). There are kacapi, kacapings, katapi, gambus(es), and violins all over this compilation. The plucked string instruments (gambus and kacapi) are usually used in rather high-tempo works, seemingly in an attempt to make fluid passages from instruments that naturally involve staccato, while the violins allow the players to slow down a bit. The sounds may be a bit harsh for the average listener -- the violins take almost an Irish sound to them, but in duets, the album tends to favor dissonant intervals between the violins, throughout the length of the pieces. On some pieces, the instruments are simply used to create a drone to back the vocals of a singer, and in some, they are used for solo instrumentals. The quality of the music performances, as well as the recording quality, are both excellent, though it might be a bit dry in spots for your average Western listener.

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