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Explorer Series: Bali, Gamelan & Kecak

Various Artists , David Lewiston Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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MP3 Music, 9 Songs, 2005 $9.49  
Audio CD, 1989 --  
Vinyl, 1989 --  
Audio Cassette, 1989 --  

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 11, 1989)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000005IZI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,713 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Opening Parade, Bali Arts Festival
2. Gending Kebyar Kosalya Arini - Gending Kebyar Kosalya Arisni
3. Sekar Sungsang - Sekar Sungsang
4. Lagu Kodok (Frod Song)
5. Gending Sekar Gadung - Pak Guawan
6. Tabuh Teluh
7. Sulendro - Gender Wayang, Sukawati
8. Kecak
9. Baris

Editorial Reviews

Recorded by David Lewiston in 1987, these are fine recordings of both famous and little-heard strains of Indonesian music. In a series of recordings that include both large gamelan orchestras and small ensembles, he has captured the wide scope of the music of Bali. In addition to the gamelan works we are offered some very unique sounds: a palm bark version of the Jew's harp; a reed instrument with a distinctly "Hendrix on the bagpipes" sound. Perhaps most enjoyable is a recording of a passing parade, with various instruments, rhythms, and melodies drifting by in the sort of cacophony associated with Charles Ive's marching band works. Lewiston's offering is invaluable. -- Louis Gibson

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Recorded Balinese Music July 29, 2002
Format:Audio CD
This recording is a treasure. It presents a wide variety of Balinese music, from a gamelan parade, through small group "chamber music" to the large ensemble music and even a smattering of Kecak. The music is all expertly played by a wide variety of gamelan ensembles, so you get a sampling of the subtle variety of this music. It is also the best engineered field recording that I've ever heard. Unlike many of the Lyrichord and early Nonesuch Explorer series Balinese recordings, this one is digital and doesn't sound as if it was recorded on a dictaphone. Particularly with Balinese music, this is important. You want to hear all the overtones of this magical music.
If you are curious about Balinese gamelan, or if you are an afficienado, this is an essential CD.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Oldest 'Modern' Music October 5, 2008
Format:Audio CD
There's a story - perhaps apocryphal, but a good story - that a Balinese gamelan master once visited a performance by the well-skilled gamelan ensemble of Mills College in Oakland, California. The Balinese listened respectfully and praised the ensemble profusely, but said that there had been something missing... something essential but mysterious. When asked to be specific, he pondered, and then said, "Where are the frogs?"

Gamelan is a nighttime, outdoor music, an orchestra of tuned bells and gongs, with other percussion. Bowed string instruments are ancient in Indonesia also. Possibly the earliest bowed string ancestor of the spike-fiddle traveled north from Indonesia to China, from there west to Scandinavia and from there south to France, to evolve eventually into the viols and violins. Bowed strings, in any case, are among the instruments of the various gamelan ensembles included in this 'sampler' of the music of Bali. A "kecak" vocal ensemble also is heard, and it's a very distinctive sound. Note that this CD is a sampler, based on fairly old ethnographic field recordings. A real evening's gamelan would not be such a diverse selection of fairly short (10 minutes) pieces. The true gamelan might play all night.

If some of this music sounds remarkably like modern American and European 'classical,' that's not an accident. Many 20th C composers, especially Americans, were strongly influenced by gamelan - galvanized musically by their first encounters with it - and incorporated its patterns, scales, percussive effects, and even its instruments into their compositions.

Don't listen to this music if you hate to travel! You might fall in love with it and need to schedule your next vacation in Indonesia.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ancient modern music August 25, 2000
Format:Audio CD
In his amazing book Ocean of Sound, David Toop opens with a chapter on the meeting of western composers (especially Debussy) with the sounds of the Indonesian Gamelan (which are essentially orchestras of various sizes). Situating the nexus of much modern music in this meeting by finding strains of these sounds in minimalists like Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and John Cage, but also stretching into the filmic realms of Ryuchi Sakamoto, the electronics of Loop Guru, and the Free Jazz of Don Cherry, just to name a few he cites, Toop indicates the range of influence of this amazing music. David Lewiston's 1987 recordings on this compilation jubiliantly reflect this diversity, even in the fascinating opening track of various ensembles passing by in a parade showcasing the sounds of cymbals, gongs, drums, flutes, metallophones, wooden cowbells, and countless other mostly percussive sounds. The rest of the tracks on the CD are equally varied. The third track, for example, Genggong Duet, takes place with the Balinese Jew's Harp, and could almost sound like the electronic squiggles of some electronic outfits like mouse on mars or matmos; the fourth track, a Frog Song which is produced through a piece of palm bark and sounds like a reed instrument, could pass for a free-jazz improvisation. Another exciting highlight would be the 8th track, a Kecak piece that tells the Indian Legend of Hanuman. Familiar to anyone whose seen the film Baraka, this is a piece where a large group sits in a circle, moving, swaying, and chanting, tjak tjak tajk, in furious rhythm. Like the Master Musicians of Jajouka, whom William Burroughs called a "2000 year old rock band," this music sounds both ancient and progressive at the same time. An excellent introduction based on variety alone, but with digital recording, these sounds are surprisingly clean. For anyone curious about Balinese music, this would be a great place to start.
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