In this 1997 New Sounds with host John Schaefer, Lou Harrison talks about composing for the Indonesian gamelan, the associated complexities of intonation and his recollections of instrument building and experimentation with fellow West Coast maverick, Harry Partch.
When asked about maintaining delicate instruments in earthquake-prone California, Harrison explains that gamelan instruments are quite sturdy unless driven out of tune by overzealous performers. Having worked with native Indonesian musical materials, he confesses his discomfort with using pre-existing music without confirming their rights. The composer talks about the related instruments he has built and named, including the inspirational "Old Grand Dad."
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