Recorded in 1987, this album captures the rich Balinese gamelan tradition at a crossroads. While the traditional music and accompanying shadow puppet shows still thrived, younger conservatory-trained musicians had become aware of a broad spectrum of musical possibilities. The tracks heard here, a mix of traditional and more recent pieces, show how gamelan absorbed newer influences while maintaining its unmistakable character.
FROM THE ORIGINAL LINER NOTES (1989)
For Bali’s musicians, this is a time of great change. While the island’s conservatory is producing well-rounded artists, it is also part of a contemporary dilemma. For as young musicians are exposed to a broad professional training, they become aware of fresh possibilities. In the search for original expression, many of the accepted conventions that characterized the traditional music are diluted. Bali’s most popular ensemble is still the large gamelan gong, consisting of 25-30 musicians. The principal melody instruments are metallophones, xylophone-like instruments with bronze keys. Sets of small tuned gong kettles provide melodic ornaments, while the penetrating bass tones of great gongs punctuate larger phrases. Clashing cymbals add to the overall glitter. A flute or stringed instrument sweetens the melody. The entire structure is supported by two drummers, who create the crucial rhythmic underpinning.
Recorded in Bali by David Lewiston