World Music: Balinese Rhythms
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This course provides an introduction to Balinese music, and the role of music in Balinese culture. Students will have the opportunity to both learn about and watch Balinese performances, as well as start to learn and practice the rhythms and techniques of Balinese gamelan online, using the “Jamelan” game. The “Jamelan” game, developed by MIT Professor of the Practice Eran Egozy, consists of rhythm recognition software similar to that used in ‘rhythm-based’ video games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, which Egozy also developed. Using the Jamelan, learners' progress is tracked and measured so that they can play along, hearing their accuracy audibly, but also having that accuracy measured digitally. By merging hands-on pedagogical tools based on traditional Balinese teaching methods, with new digital tools based on the gaming industry, the resulting learning experience is potent.
Besides seeing and hearing these rhythmic patterns directly, and discovering the cultural context of these techniques, learners are also able to explore them in a personalized way, by working through exercises that hone their listening and musicianship skills. Learners have the ability to loop, repeat, change speeds, etc., allowing for a much more personalized experience that responds to different individuals and allows for learners to practice at their own pace. Testing is based on the level of precision in playing along with these patterns, playing the beats, and, eventually, playing complementary parts.
Evan Ziporyn, Head of Music and Theater Arts, is a composer/clarinetist who has forged an international reputation through his genre-defying, cross-cultural works and performances. At MIT he is Inaugural Director of the Center for Art, Science and Technology (CAST), founder and Artistic Director of Gamelan Galak Tika, and curator of the MIT Sounding performance series. His music has been commissioned and performed by Yo-yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble, Brooklyn Rider, Maya Beiser, Roomful of Teeth, Bang on a Can, Kronos Quartet, Wu Man, the American Composers Orchestra, Sentieri Selvaggi, the American Repertory Theater, Steven Schick, So Percussion, Gamelan Sekar Jaya, Sarah Cahill, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. They have been presented at international venues including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, London’s Barbican Center, the Holland Festival, the Singapore Festival, the Sydney Olympics, and the Bali International Arts Festival. His opera A House in Bali (directed by MIT colleague Jay Scheib) was featured at BAM Next Wave in 2010; that same fall his works were featured at a Carnegie Hall Zankel Making Music composer’s portrait concert. Ziporyn tours and records regularly as a soloist and as a member of Eviyan (with Iva Bittova and Gyan Riley). From 1992-2012 he was a founding member of the Bang on a Can All-stars (Musical America’s 2005 Ensemble of the Air), finishing his tenure with the group with an appearance on an episode of PBS’ Arthur. His long-time work with the Steve Reich Ensemble led to sharing a 1999 Grammy for Best Chamber Performance for their recording of Music for 18 Musicians. He is also the featured multi-tracked soloist on Reich’s Nonesuch recording of New York Counterpoint. Other awards include a 2012 Massachusetts Arts Council Fellowship, the 2007 USArtists Walker Award and the 2004 American Academy of Arts and Letters Goddard Lieberson Fellowship. His puppet opera Shadow Bang, a collaboration with master Balinese dalang Wayan Wija, was premiered at MassMOCA and was the centerpiece of the 2006 Amsterdam GrachtenFest. Recordings of his works have been released on Sony Classical, Cantaloupe Music, New Albion, New World Records, Koch, Innova, Victo, Animal Music, and CRI. He has collaborated with some of the worlds most creative and vital living musicians, including Brian Eno, Paul Simon, Ornette Coleman, Thurston Moore, Meredith Monk, Bryce Dessner, Philip Glass, Terry Riley, Louis Andriessen, Shara Worden, Sandeep Das, Kelley Deal, Cecil Taylor, Henry Threadgill, Wu Man, Matthew Shipp, Wayan Wija, Kyaw Kyaw Naing, and Ethel. Recent projects include In My Mind & In My Car (w/Christine Southworth), an hour-length work for bass clarinet and electronics, which he has performed at festivals in the US, Canada, Belgium, Poland, and Indonesia; compositions and arrangements for Ken Burns’ upcoming Vietnam documentary, arrangements for Silkroad Ensemble’s most recent CD, Sing Me Home. This past year he released a new Eviyan CD, as well as CDs of collaborations with DuoJalal, Czech composer Beata Hlavenkova, and Polish jazz masters Waclaw Zimpel and Hubert Zempel. Additionally, his performance with the MIT Wind Ensemble of Don Byron’s Clarinet Concerto, commissioned by MIT, and released on Sunnyside Records, received a 5-star Downbeat review.
Born in 1973 to a family of artists in Pengosekan village in Bali, Dewa Ketut Alit was immersed in Balinese gamelan from early childhood. His father Dewa Nyoman Sura and his oldest brother Dewa Putu Berata were the most influential teachers in his life. He began performing at age 11, and by age 13 was playing ugal (leading instrument) in his village’s adult group, Tunas Mekar Pengosekan. 1988-1995 he played in the internationally acclaimed Gamelan Semara Ratih of Ubud village, touring internationally. In 1997, a year before graduating from Academy of Indonesian Performing Arts in Denpasar (STSI Denpasar), Dewa Alit and his brothers founded Çudamani. The group immidiately acknowledged as one of the best gamelan group both locally and internationally and went on their own international tours. Dewa Alit is generally acknowledged as the leading composer of his generation in Bali. His “Geregel” (2000) was influential both in Bali and abroad, and was the subject of a 50 page analysis in the “Perspectives on New Music”. One of his compositions written for a Boston-base gamelan group Galak Tika, “Semara Wisaya” was performed at New York Carnegie in 2004 and another composition “Pelog Slendro” appeared at Bang on a Marathon in June 2006. He also writes music for non-gamelan ensambles such as MIT's Gamelan Electrika and Talujon Percussion, USA. As a collaborator, Dewa Alit has worked with musicians and dancers from around the world. These include his own compositions using Balinese and western instruments, a dance-opera with a Chinese dance company in 2001, contemporary theater production “Buddha 12” directed by Alicia Arata Kitamura (Theatre Annees Folles, Tokyo) in 2007, a collaboration with a butoh dancer Ko Murobushi in Asia Tri Jogya Festival, Jogyakarta, in 2008, and most recently a 3-men performance "Hagoromo" with Japan's most aknowledged contemporary dancer Kaiji Moriyama and Noh master Reijiro Tsumura at Tokyo National Theatre in 2014. Dewa Alit was a gamelan director for Evan Ziporyn’s new opera “A House in Bali,” performing its premiere with world famous Bang On a Can Allstars in Bali and at Cal Performances, USA, in 2009, and Boston-New York in October 2010. He is regularly invited to teach and compose for gamelan outside Bali, which includes Gamelan Gita Asmara at University of British Colombia, Gamelan Galak Tika at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Helena College in Perth, and Gamelan SingaMurti in Singapore. Seeking a wider path for expressing his approach to new music in gamalen, Dewa Alit founded his own gamelan group in 2007, Gamelan Salukat, performing on a new set of instruments of Alit’s own tuning and design.