Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Gamelan of Central Java|
Classical Gendings 1
Genres: World Music, Pop
"sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about m
D. Quinn | northern britain | 08/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the first volume of the nine-disc series of contemporary Javanese gamelan recordings. It starts with a rather austere-sounding first piece, supposedly evoking the winds that bring clouds and then rain. The (instrumental) second piece has the opposite meaning - keeping the rain away! It is very true to say that this music is often best understood with reference to its wider environment, both social and even climatological associations and connotations. Nobody could argue that the landscape and the climate are not a huge influence on the way societies and musics take shape over the centuries. Much gamelan is simultaneously both foreground and background - perhaps that is why many people liken it to `ambient' music - it neither dominates nor is dominated. Much less of a distinction between these so-called opposites even seems to be drawn in traditional Javanese music - it is certainly not a place for soloists to `show off', nor is the voice to be considered a far superior element, despite its nature being qualitatively different by virtue of expressing a specific meaning. But the voice is just one `instrument' among many.
The third and final piece opens with the very noticeable sounds of the stringed instrument called the rebab. The piece is also the longest, a fitting half-hour long `celebration of Javanese life' to conclude the album. One particularly interesting thing about this refined and delicate music is that whereas many societies and cultures use mind-`enhancing' chemicals to help them get into a so-called spiritual frame of mind, you get the impression that anything like that might serve only to distract and muddy your concentration here. And it's the concentration that is most highly rewarded. Unusually, even a single beer or glass of wine, which I hugely enjoy, far too much so, seems to slightly impair my ability to get the most out of the listening experience.
So not only is it great music, it's healthy music too!
The cover is packed with interesting liner notes about the various instruments on the cd and some of the most striking (no pun intended!) differences between Western and Indonesian music - notably that in Indonesia, traditional music develops horizontally, rather than vertically, has little in common with chordally-structured work, and is circular as opposed to having a linear, chord-based development.
There is also information in the booklet on the difference of styles between the music from two Royal Courts of Central Java: Surakarta and Yogyakarta. The latter is said to be a little louder and heavier (and presented in the out-of-print Ocora releases), whereas the former (presented here) is said to be more delicate and refined.
So, all in all, a thoroughly enjoyable release - at first, a nine-disc series seems like quite a lot of music to dedicate to Javanese gamelan, but it's surprising how one's appetite for Javanese music slowly creeps up to the point where it seems inexhaustible and you really cannot get enough!