The Q2 Awards

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Monday, August 16, 2010

These shows originally aired the week of January 18, 2010. For the original show page click here.

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.”

Hosted by:

Nadia Sirota

Comments [2]

David Doty from Santa Fe NM

Lou Harrison wrote a lot of music for gamelan in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s and a good deal of it has been recorded. However, on your program I have heard only the Three Pieces for Gamelan with Soloists, over and over. Try some of these:
Double Concerto for Violin and Cello with Javanese Gamelan (Music and Arts CD-635);
any of the selections on Lou Harrison: Gamelan (Musicmasters Clasics 01612-67091-2;
Suite for Violin and American Gamelan, on La Koro Sutro, New Albion NA105.

I guess a larger complaint about Q2 along the same lines is that I feel that I'm hearing a playlist--I hear the same "hits" by the same relatively small number of composers, over and over.


Aug. 23 2010 02:44 PM
gary gach from an incredible shrinking galaxy

i'm no scholar, like yr friend kyle gann, but i'd agree gamelan's influence on minimalism to be important ; likewise raga (cycles of a very basic short unit). but then one would also want to consider tone rows, mondrian, italian arte povera, d t suzuki's lectures at columbia, the dwindling of matter in the universe, twitter, etc

Aug. 19 2010 12:16 PM

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