Monday, January 19, 2009

I sing the gamelan electric

Okay, not me . . . It's The Music of Sound that's groovin' on Gamelantron, a MIDI-controlled robotic gamelan created by Zemi17 (aka Aaron Taylor Kuffner). The post has cool links to video, Gamelatron's MySpace (which, yes, is recommended).

Briefly raining on the cool parade, I would mention that in my vague understanding of the culture of Gamelan performance in its native Indonesia many community performers practice and play their various interlocking parts together in order to form a complex & shimmering musical unity. Being that we have laptops and solenoids galore, leave it to the West to rig it all up to one person's sequenced control.

That said, I'm listening to and digging what the oneness of Zemi17 is laying down on the MySpace tracks. However many people are playing, I'm a gamelan fan.

As a very amateur garage muso/person who thinks too much, I've often wondered about (tho' have yet to read about) the advent of the drum kit.

Again, much like the traditional, non-robocized gamelan, the drums within the modern drum kit were once played by several individuals. Even nowadays, think of the marching band with a bass drum player, a snare drummer, someone playing cymbals, and so on. Before the drum kit was set before the coordinated limbs of a single drummer, the deal seemed to be one drum to a person and many people playing together.

Jus' sayin': As in the case of so many feats of technological leverage, more & more sound is made and/or marshalled by a single person.


Anonymous said...

very interesting. nice myspace, btw. not all congested.

i wonder if traditional gamelan players with get upset with them for building this. that would be a shame, because the intention feels right. i read that Zemi17 trained in Indonesia, so I think he would know if it's right or wrong, right?

who knows. i like robots. i like gamelan. i like that zemi17 stuff on the other page, so i'm happy.

K. R. Seward said...

"i like robots. i like gamelan . . so i'm happy"


While just a fan, not an expert, I think Zemi17 sounds his own while sounding like gamelan music.

(OPTIONAL--My continued yammering along these lines.)

I like his and other folks' use of solenoids to play acoustic percussion and such. Ultimately it should be seen as another choice added to older, more traditional ones.

But such ingenuity & creativity doesn't stop me from being a bit jealous of Indonesians who could go into a public hall full of instruments awaiting their playing them. Metallophones already carefully tuned and ready.

Anonymous said...

i was looking for an interview about the gamelatron, but there doesn't seem to much out there about it. it's relatively new, i suppose. i was able to find some interesting things out about Zemi17.

The ear preference certainly does change within certain cultures. It seems Indonesia already understands organic sounds melding with electronics.

K. R. Seward said...

Thanks for the cool article link.

Kuffner sounds like he's been doing some neat stuff overall. And gotta love the cicada origin of the name Zemi17.

I think the Gamelatron is a pretty recent thing. Maybe if you knew his email/contact info you could conduct your own interview or say "hey, cool stuff" & strike up a dialogue.

Also FWIW: The blog that posted about the G., The Music of Sound, is done by a New Zealand film sound design type dude. He's been to Bali and has posted some stuff about his visit there.

bumkuncha said...

great link, thanks!

K. R. Seward said...

You're very welcome.

I'm always visiting your blog, Pathway To Unknown Worlds.

To reiterate, the above is thanks to The Music of Sound. And given some extra momentum by the anonymous gamelan fan who commented with the cool Jakarta Post article link.