Indonesia - Gajah Mada - Udan Mas
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Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, English Horn, 2 Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon, 4 French Horns, 3 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Bass Trombone, Tuba, Timpani, Suspended cymbal, Tam-tam, Bass drum, Crash cymbals, Triangle, Tubular Bells, Celesta, Gamelan Ensemble, Indonesian Gong, Indonesian Bongos, Malaysian Djembe, Kendang, Strings
Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, English Horn, 2 Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon, 4 French Horns, 3 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Bass Trombone, Tuba, Timpani, Suspended cymbal, Bass drum, Tam-tam, Crash cymbals, Tubular Bells, Celesta, Gamelan Ensemble, Gong, Indonesian Bongos, Malaysian Djembe, Large Drums, Kendang, Strings
There was no doubt that the gamelan needed to play an important role in Indonesian leader Gajah Mada’s leader music. The real question I dealt with was what to do with the symphony orchestra in conjunction with the gamelan. A quick listen of a few gamelan ensemble performances led me very strongly in the direction of minimalism. There is a repetitive and hypnotic nature to gamelan ensemble music that is very similar in nature to minimalism.
Of course, I am far from the first person to find a correlation between gamelan music and minimalism. John Adams andSteve Reich in particular are two modern Western composers that came to mind with strong ties to minimalism as well as gamelan music. Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy were also influenced by a gamelan performance they heard and experienced at the 1889 “Exposition Universelle” in Paris. I took these Western music composers as inspiration for the orchestral parts and textures and the Indonesian gamelan performances to outline the intricate gamelan ensemble parts.
Another possible issue I could have run into was tuning clashes between the orchestra and gamelan ensemble. Part the unique sound of the gamelan ensemble is a result of the slight differences in tuning that create beats between the instruments. Thankfully, I have equal tempered samples of the many of the instruments in a gamelan ensemble, which match the tuning of the Western symphony orchestra, so the problem was averted. The gamelan does unfortunately lose a bit of it’s character in these recordings by being tuned to equal temperament, but the trade off was truly the only option to make these themes listenable, given the forging of the two musical styles with their respective instruments.
The source melody, “Udan Mas” means “golden rain.” I chose this not only because of it’s popularity in Indonesia as well as Western gamelan ensembles, but also because I found it to be an excellent fit for writing in a minimalist style.
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