A hot tip: If you ever find yourself in sophomore Music History class, arm yourself with the following information, as it can be referenced for approximately one-half of the questions on your mid-term.
This one time in 1889, there was Javanese gamelan at the Paris Exposition (World’s Fair); Debussy saw it and lost his mind, and Classical Music has never been the same.
The thing is, gamelan is wonderful stuff! It’s one of those things that has been absurdly influential because it’s just that good. A gamelan is an Indonesian hammered percussion orchestra (technically "gamelan" refers to the set of instruments used in said orchestra). The combination of the rhythmic intricacy of gamelan music and it’s attractive non-western tuning systems make it a rich source of inspiration for a mind-boggling number of composers including Messiaen, Britten, Lou Harrison, Colin McPhee, Evan Ziporyn, Pierre Boulez, and Philip Glass.
On Q2 this week, we’ll listen to a ton of different works inspired, to varying degrees, by gamelan. Trying to quantify gamelan’s influence on the west is unbelievably difficult; it just keeps on popping up in new works. Ergo, I’m hereby giving it the award for “Most Influential World Music Style of the Past 120 Years.”