Livecoding gamelan

The work that I will be taking to ICLC 2020 in Limerick is entitled ‘Perang Gagal: a Series of Inconclusive Battles’, and is a collaboration with Professor Mel Mercier at the Irish Word Academy of Music and Dance. I will performing livecode in SuperCollider as part of a small gamelan ensemble let by Mel. Here’s the demo video I submitted to the conference call:

I had thought that the eventual piece would be straightforward to devise, but it is proving trickier than I thought. There are couple of limitations. We won’t have access to a full gamelan for the conference. I had hoped to visit Limerick to work with the players in advance, but that has not proved possible: instead, I am going to send sketches of the material I am working on to Mel, and we will put the piece together during the conference.

The third limitation is around pulse. I want this piece to be rhythmic, but I do not feel confident about trying to get SuperCollider to follow the tempo and pulse of a live ensemble of gamelan musicians. Consequently, I am having to devise material where SuperCollider establishes some sort of groove that the live players will follow.

So far I have four potential sections for the piece. As ever, I am reworking existing materials. ‘fibblesticks’ and ‘Adrift & Afloat’ are ‘counting pieces’ that employ numerical frameworks to allow performers to play together in time, while leaving pitch inderminate: or rather, when working with the gamelan, projecting the entire complement of available notes, pelog in this case.

I have on a number of occasions performed a sort of quasi-Javenese gamelan texture in SuperCollider, using samples of the Spirit of Hope instruments here in Glasgow. For Limerick, I have reworked this by adding a balungan part for the live players.

The fourth section for the piece is new, and is based around a couple of musical ideas that occured to me in a dream and that were still in my head on awakening:

Many of my musical ideas originate in this way!

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