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Program 521: Music for Gamelan

KALW Broadcast Date: June 22, 2018 | Host: Mark Abramson

Gamelan is the traditional ensemble music of Bali and Java in Indonesia. It has a rich cultural history within Indonesia that dates back almost two thousand years. It gained recognition in the Western world during the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris and since has inspired countless composers of Western classical music.

Gonténg (Djawa), pengawak solo was recorded in 1928 and is from the first and only commercially-released recordings of Balinese music made prior to World War Two. The aforementioned set of recordings were pivotal in the musical development of the Canadian composer, Colin McPhee, who later traveled to Bali to write his book, Music in Bali. We will hear McPhee’s orchestral work from 1935 Tabuh Tabuhan which was influenced heavily by his experiences in Bali.

Another Westerner who was drawn to the sounds of the gamelan was California’s own Lou Harrison. In his Suite for Violin and American Gamelan he utilizes his own newly created gamelan that he and his partner William Colvig built together in the late 1960’s. The ensemble is modeled on Javanese gamelan, but tuned to just intonation on the note D. The version of Suite for Violin and American Gamelan, heard here on Music from Other Minds, is an exclusive unreleased recording made at the Other Minds Festival 22.

The program concludes with a short work for traditional gamelan titled Bubaran Hudan Mas, which is an ending piece played at the close of a function as the audience departs.

Program Audio

30-Second Spot

Track Info & Links

Title: Gonténg (Djawa), pengawak solo
Composer: I Wayan Lotring
Performers: Pelégongan of Kuta
Recording Title: The Roots of Gamelan
Record Label: World Arbiter
Catalog Number: 2001


Title: Tabuh Tabuhan
Composer: Colin McPhee
Performers: Peter Basquin & Christopher Oldfather, pianos; American Composers Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies, Conductor
Recording Title: McPhee/Ung/Harrison
Record Label: Argo
Catalog Number: 444 560-2


Title: Suite for Violin and American Gamelan
Composer: Lou Harrison, Richard Dee
Performers: Shalini Vijayan, violin; William Winant
 Percussion Group; Nicole Paiement, conductor
Recording Title: Unreleased live recording from Other Minds Festival 22
Record Label: n/a
Catalog Number: n/a


Title: Bubaran Hudan Mas (Golden Rain)
Composer: Traditional
Performers: Pura Paku Alaman
Recording Title: Javanese Court Gamelan
Record Label: Elektra Nonesuch
Catalog Number: 7559-72044-2

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