1-2 Weeks
The Roots of Gamelan: The First Recordings

WA 2001CD WA 2001CD

2015 repress expected soon? Subtitled: Bali, 1928, New York, 1941. 1999 release, the first on this exceptional classical world music label. Recordings from Bali, 1928, reissued for the first time. These historic recordings were made as part of a collection of the first and only commercially-released recordings of Balinese music prior to World War II. This incredibly diverse sampling of Balinese new and older styles was released on 78 rpm discs that same year, with subsequent releases for international distribution in the following years. The discs were sold worldwide (or not sold, as it happened) and quickly went out-of-print. It was a crucial time in the island's musical history, as Bali was in the midst of an artistic revolution, with a new style of music, kebyar, sweeping the island. Gamelan groups were having their older ceremonial orchestras melted down and reforged in the new style. Intense competition between villages and regions was driving young composers to develop compositional ideas, innovations and impressive techniques. Gamelan is the general term for Bali's dozen or so instrumental music ensembles. The word is derived from gamel, to handle, and Balinese make a clear distinction between gamelan krawang, bronze instruments, and other kinds of ensembles utilizing bamboo. The distinctive features of Bali's major styles highlight shimmering resonances of gongs, knobbed gong-chimes, and metallophones (with bronze keys suspended over bamboo resonators), ranging four or five octaves, and differing from neighboring Java in their explosive sonorities and phrasings. Gamelan styles are associated with specific contexts of ceremonial, entertainment, or recreational activity. The unique collection of tuned gongs, gong-chimes and flat metallophones which we associate with the gamelan styles of Bali and Java, appears to have developed between the construction of the 9th century Buddhist temple Borobudur and the arrival of the first Dutch expedition in 1595. The end of the album features music by composer Colin McPhee, whose reinterpretive work is inspired by these early recordings, using piano and flute.