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Javanese music

On 2 Nov 1996, Michael Peters wrote:

> Dave Stagner writes,
> > are there any fans of Balinese music here?
> yes, here's one! I love Javanese Gamelan almost more though. Balinese 
> is very dynamic and powerful, with many sudden changes, an extraordinary
> kind of music. Javanese music is more steady-state, minimalist stuff

I played in a Javanese gamelan ensemble last spring here at school.  
(Apparently the new gamelan which was obtained for the Javanese ensemble 
at the beginning of last year is the finest one in North America!)  

There are some definite connections between that sort of music and 
looping, I'd say, particularly since most of the Javanese music I played 
consisted of what could be described in Western terms as one or two 
(occasionally more) eight or sixteen-bar cycles repeated for a looooong 
time.  Fifteen to twenty minutes was the average length of time for a lot 
of the pieces we played.  It's one thing to hear an electronic loop 
spinning that long, but it's another thing to actually have to manually 
play it over and over while sitting cross-legged on the floor.  (Ouch). 

Very beautiful music, though, no doubt about that.  I would frequently 
have the sensation after several minutes of suddenly hearing new textures 
emerging out of the overall sonic pattern.  There was even one section 
that always seemed to morph into what sounded for all the world like a 
wind instrument.  (It was actually a series of metals being struck with