World Rhythms: President Bush Beats Gamelan

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About Indonesian Gamelan

Bush Beats Gamelan (You Can Too!)

A gamelan is an Indonesian ensemble normally composed primarily of

percussion. These orchestras typically include tuned gongs, bronze

kettles, bronze metallophones, bamboo xylophones, drums, cymbals,

flutes, and bowed string instruments.

While the music itself is

complex, some of the instruments do not require a great deal of

technique to play, as President Bush found out in his November 16

visit to Singapore, in which he was treated to a performance of Asian

fusion (“coincidentally” the name of Ancient Future’s sixth CD, Asian

Fusion) music by a group called “Gamelan Asmaradana.” The musicians

played a classical Javanese piece and a Singapore folk song. Invited

to play himself, Bush kneeled on the carpet, beat the saron (a

metallophone) with a rubber mallet for a time, and then said: “I’m

going to quit while I’m ahead.”

However, this is one area where he should be encouraged to stay the

course rather than to cut and run. After all, his first performance

was greeted with applause by the members of the gamelan orchestra. It

is as if all the success that was predicted for his Iraq invasion is

now coming true for him in the wonderful world of gamelan.

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/061116/481/sgpd11311160550 (See President Bush Play)

Balinese Gamelan

These exercises are examples from Balinese gamelan music. In Bali,

orchestras of tuned gongs, bronze kettles, bronze metallophones,

bamboo xylophones, drums, cymbals and flutes fill the night air with

animated music. Melodic parts interlock, divided in such a way that

musicians play alternate notes to form the melody line. These

interlocking parts, known as kotèkan, require cooperation and a keen

sense of rhythm to perform.

Knowledge of kotèkan can be extremely valuable. These interlocking

rhythms have a unique way of bringing people together in cooperation

towards a common goal, which President Bush could certainly benefit

from. Some critics of his policies have said they would like to send

him to Mars, and indeed he has proposed going there. But this seems a

drastic and expensive solution, particularly considering that a music

sabbatical to Bali for the purpose of studying these wonderful

interlocking parts could have a profound effect on his international

diplomacy skills. He has already shown some interest. This could be a

true hidden talent just waiting to come out.

The two parts of a kotèkan, which are thought of as male and female,

are known as nyangsih and polos. The main accents of the male nyangsih

part are usually on the offbeat, while the main accents of the female

polos part are usually on the beat. The male instruments are slightly

higher in pitch to produce a chorusing effect. There is no

interlocking between the male instruments or the female instruments,

only between the male and female instruments. This should fit in well

with Bush’s philosophy of the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. In

all of the standard Western music notation examples below, the polos

(female) is on the bottom staff while the nyangsih (male) part is on

the top.

Kotèkan Types

These examples are from Ancient Traditions — Future Possibilities:,

Chapter 2, Exercise II, page 49. There are four types of melodic

kotèkans recognized in North Bali: chandetan, tutugan, ochètan, and

semi- ochètan.

Chandetan http://www.ancient-future.com/images/chandetan.gif (See sheet music)

The chandetan is an alternating rhythm in which the nyangsih melody

differs from the polos. This might be considered the musical

equivalent of a partisan showcase, but where the result still works to

the benefit of all.

http://www.jukeboxalive.com/audio_play_offsite.php?mid=580230&skin=329644 (Play Chandetan)

Tutugan http://www.ancient-future.com/images/tutugan.gif (See sheet music)

The tutugan is an alternating rhythm in which the nyangsih melody

follows the polos. This might be the musical equivalent of what Bush

is hoping for in bipartisan cooperation.

http://www.jukeboxalive.com/audio_play_offsite.php?mid=580232&skin=329644 (Play Tutugan)

Ochètan http://www.ancient-future.com/images/ochetan.gif (See sheet music)

The ochètan is an interlocking rhythm in which two separate voices are

created where the parts meet. This is likely the musical equivalent of

what the Democrats hope for in bipartisan cooperation:

http://www.jukeboxalive.com/audio_play_offsite.php?mid=580236&skin=329644 (Play Ochètan)

Semi-Ochètan http://www.ancient-future.com/images/semiochetan.gif (See sheet music)

The semi-ochètan is an interlocking rhythm in which the parts meet on

a unison, which is probably the musical equivalent of what voters hope

for in bipartisan cooperation:

http://www.jukeboxalive.com/audio_play_offsite.php?mid=580237&skin=329644 (Play Semi-Ochètan)

Gamelan Anklung http://www.ancient-future.com/images/anklung.gif (See sheet music)

The gamelan anklung is a four-tone ensemble that commonly accompanies

temple ceremonies. This is an intermediate level kotèkan from Ancient Traditions — Future Possibilities:, Chapter 2, Exercise III D, page 51:

http://www.jukeboxalive.com/audio_play_offsite.php?mid=580241&skin=329644 (Play Anklung)

This kotèkan was used as the basis for the composition Gamarock from

the Ancient Future release Dreamchaser.

http://www.jukeboxalive.com/player/cal_customaudio.php?sid=247536_1&user=ancientfuture_members (Play Gamarock)



Source by Matthew Montfort

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