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Colin McPhee and the Music of Bali

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Item Type: Sound Recording Duration: 31 min
Event Type: Interview and Music Program Origin: C Amirkhanian

Henry Cowell presents a program on the music of Indonesia, featuring early recordings of gamelan music, as well as many transcriptions of Balinese music by Colin McPhee. The music of Indonesia first came to the attention of the West when in the 1920s Erich M. von Hornbostel and others collected and commercially released a number of gamelan performances, recorded in the villages of Indonesia. These early 78rpm records later inspired the Canadian composer, Colin McPhee, to travel to the island of Bali, for what was to be a trip of a few months but ended up lasting more than seven years. During that time McPhee made numerous transcriptions of ceremonial gamelan music for two pianos and occasionally for flute and piano. Cowell presents some of those early field recordings as well as many of McPhee’s arrangements, performed by McPhee and fellow composer Benjamin Britten, as well as one featuring the flute of Georges Barrère. McPhee’s fascination with the complex layered rhythms of traditional Indonesian music, was in turn, the inspiration for much of the percussion music by such avant-garde 20th century composers as John Cage and Lou Harrison, among others.

Musical Selections:  Seléndro, for gamelan (2:50) / Gendér Wayang of Kuta -- Gambangan, for two pianos [a transcription of ceremonial Indonesian gamelan music] (1:36) / Colin McPhee -- Lagu Délem, for two pianos [transcription] (1:36) / Colin McPhee -- Tabu Telu, for two pianos [transcription] (2:43) / Colin McPhee -- Lagu Ardja, for flute and piano [transcription] (2:13) / Colin McPhee -- Kambing Slem (”Songs of the Black Goat”): Embracing Monkey ; Crow Stealing Eggs ; Fighting Cats ; 100 Cash, for flute and piano [transcription] (1:53) / Colin McPhee -- Berong pengètjèt, for gamelan anklung (2:54)
Performers:  Gendér Wayang of Kuta (Seléndro)
I Wayan Lotring, director (Seléndro)
Colin McPhee, piano (all but Seléndro)
Benjamin Britten, piano (Gambangan ; Lagu Délem ; Tabu)
Georges Barrère, flute (Lagu Ardja ; Kambing)
Genre:  World Music
Subject:  McPhee, Colin, 1900-1964; World music; Music -- Indonesia -- Bali Island; Gamelan music; Piano music (Pianos (2)); Flute and piano music
People:  Cowell, Henry, 1897-1965; Lotring, Wayan, 1898-1982 ; McPhee, Colin, 1900-1964; Britten, Benjamin, 1913-1976; Barrère, Georges, 1876-1944
Recording Date:  na
 
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