Thursday, November 15, 2012

Written In Stone

Remember how I was fascinated by the Permian-Triassic mass extinction? I had an awestruck moment yesterday finding out about a four-winged bird of prey from a more recent, Cambrian period who hunted with great agility in forests.
Imagine witnessing such a place with all the foreign and familiar sounds of animals and wind and leaves, before the "Anthropocene" story had been written in industrial destruction. On Radiolab I heard an untested hypothesis that voice vibrations could have been written into ancient Roman vases when they were spun and we could read them with modern equipment. (Seek to about 9:20) So imagine being able to read those prehistoric sounds with future technology!

This opens up all sorts of cans of worms: when a tree falls in a forest 120 mya, does it make a sound for the first time now as a fossilized recording? Is aleatoric sound less spontaneous heard on playback? In what context does the dichotomy between live and recorded music cease to exist?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Attention Asian environmental advocates

I'm interested in connecting with other people of color, particularly Asian Americans, who value environmental conservation. What led me to this step is at the conclusion of a shark conservation talk I recently attended, both a small Hong Kong immigrant and older white China basher were visibly convinced a (white) speaker had placed 100% of the blame for shark kills on demand by ethnic Chinese. I felt this was an embarrassment for the shark conservation movement.
Environmental conservation has radically shifted since I was in school: climate change has finally entered popular awareness and the pressure on international cooperation is on. But domestic environmental campaigns are still white-dominated. I'm interested to find if and how other Asians stand among their ethnic communities as conservation leaders. Until conservation values are held in common across national and ethnic borders, there can be little progress on global environmental concerns.

Please suggest people for me to track down or let me know what you think about domestic or international conservation movements.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New piece for voice: We Built That Together

My friend spotted a trilobite fossil on a hike yesterday. She was in Michigan, on billions-years-old tectonic plate that probably hosted the individual she found in a stream or lake. This vastly diverse group of invertebrates were wiped out 250 millions years ago along with almost all life on earth.

We're thoroughly connected to an unimaginable past and inevitable future. Our nation was connected by President Eisenhower via a spectacular program to build interstate highways. High-volume transportation burns fossil fuels, a practice that notoriously connects us to the most unstable regions of the world and destabilize the planet's capacity to sustain life as we know it.

With this in mind, I dashed off a piece for solo voice. Vocalists & linguists, please try it out! Bring your phone or favorite recorder so we can listen together. Comments are welcome here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tues Nov 6 is Election Day

In under three weeks we'll be stopping by our local polling places in the definitive act of democracy. I've avidly followed the presidential and vp debates, always arriving late from work, this Tuesday from being trained to work an Oakland return center (where ballots are collected after polls close). The process is a well-oiled machine, run by the County and citizen workers, that's put to the test only once a year, and expected to process record volumes this year.

No matter what your priorities and values, you participate in the US economy and government. Get out and vote November 6, or now if your state has early voting. You can find out this and other ballot information at By filling in your street address, the site takes you to a summary of contested seats and referendum items in your district.

I'm into the list of upcoming debates and forums, below. That's hot date material right there.

Then as always, write your representatives. They're also listed on LWV. Yes, the ones who rubber-stamped the waiver of environmental analysis for deep-sea drilling that resulted in the BP catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Even those who aren't up for election this year. Show your friends and me what you tell them, because if nine others write a congressional office about the same issue, staff will investigate. Remember to identify yourself as a voting constituent. If you can blog, you can write your rep.

That's what democracy looks like.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The most atheist post on this blog

At my day job at the aquarium I rotate through several different stations:
"Come right in, I'll take you to the next exhibit..."
"Welcome to the ray pool, you can touch the animals here..."
"That's a sevengill shark, the largest type of shark in the Bay..."
"We can't ask the sharks to eat different foods but you can make choices about your food so we all have enough to eat..." 
and so on. But standing beside an 8-foot-tall model of a Megalodon jaw, with a smaller shark jaw in my hand, gazing down the sidewalk at the endless march of international tourists, it hit me.

Developed countries are responsible for most of the greenhouse gases already released. This makes developing countries cry foul at every attempt to set international standards for reductions.

But those developed countries are run by white people. These countries got rich during colonialism by bleeding regions that now encompass developing, poor, and conflict-torn nations. Many of these regions are, furthermore, being hit harder and faster by climate change: wetter rainy seasons destroy harvests and natural habitat, extreme weather patterns disrupt subsistence fisheries and planting and harvesting dates. In turn these impacts can touch off and worsen civil conflict (see link above).

What does that mean for our responsibility as living citizens of former colonial nations? The Brits walk softly but they don't want to talk about it. With Portugal, Spain, and Holland (Dutch East India Company), they outright refused to apologize and lobbied others to stand fast. White America is rightly mired in slavery's messy aftermath and Australia also issued an apology for aborigines child abductions, but they are far from alone in stacking up atrocities on people of color. Note also that the apologies were for wrongs against resident populations.

Speaking of residency, the OECD's citizenry is increasingly comprised of immigrants of color. On top of navigating discriminatory systems and culture rifts that threaten familial and social networks, bridging the disparity between developed and set-back nations becomes our responsibility.

One of my favorite stations is by K dock, the local crash pad for wild sea lions. Gazing over the concrete breakwater, I spotted a handsome, tall Brown Pelican.

Pelicans lay three eggs, each one day apart. In an average year, both parents find food only enough for one chick to survive. As hunger sets in, the two eldest chicks beat the youngest with their beaks, heavily hooked from hatching, until it falls out of the nest. The parents ignore it and it dies of exposure or predation. As hunger continues, the eldest turns on the middle chick with a similar result.

Nature is amoral: the benefit of having an extra chick or two on an exceptionally bountiful year outweighs the cost of producing those eggs all the average years, so three are laid and chicks are clubbed to death by their siblings.

Evidence lies infinite around us; another piece might be Nature is amoral: asteroids meaninglessly wiped out most of the life on the planet. Today I'm interested in underlining the immortal peace in this much larger reality. We could continue this mass extinction and climate change trend until the planet becomes uninhabitable by life as we know it. Humans could ourselves become extinct, brief spark in the history of life that we are.

Or we could suck it up and take responsibility in our own lives now, whoever we are, whatever crappy background and ancestry we have to account for. What one change will you make this week to exercise our unique quality of ethics and morality?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

From Philadelphia

This weekend I relaxed in Philadelphia for Gender Reel, staying at my old house. I shared the opening act with the bold genderqueer Ignacio Rivera. That event was free and packed, but the rest of the festival, including screenings were oddly sparsely attended.

Since I had shingles, I ruled out full contact for my own comfort. Instead, I shared my story about reading The Economist's special report on the Arctic while I flew across the continent, then invited everyone to create movement, sound, and visual art while I played fully dressed. It would be a collective exploration of slowing down. 

There was a breath or two as I started playing violin spectrally into a corner, exploring a door on the back wall.

Then, more bodies than I could count were on the floor, mostly drawing, some dancing. I approached one making a rubbing of an odd vent on the stage. That person proceeded to tear up the marked page and tape strips on me and hang pieces on my violin.

I went to my full-contact violin headspace, barely aware of what took place in the performance space. During the feedback phase someone showed me a glittery page reading "Traveling ART SHOW" which they'd prepared to crumple up and throw around the room. I didn't react at the time, still emerging from my performative, meditative focus.

From the panel and screenings I took home some big concepts. I noticed, in the lives of many POC, how quickly more urgent issues of solidarity, prosperity, and sustainability left trans* in their wake. The lives of trans* POC aren't troubled solely by this minor difference. While some immigrant families don't accept trans* relatives, it's in a context of broad cultural rejection and communications impasse.

Am I, the performer, necessary in this work? Can't I mark an analog clockface at ten minutes from the start and leave? Would it it enough to set them up with my story and energy and leave them to the creation? Is that less performance than workshop, and isn't an effective workshop one in which the participants are brought to do the extraordinary? What I love about TO, as demonstrated in the modified violin piece, is participants leave feeling more able to use the activity as a tool on their own.

What if, then, we raise the standard of proficiency in our non-performers? This would produce a more powerful citizenry, one better prepared to make urgently needed changes in our lives and world.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

From San Francisco

I'm propped in my usual spot in the kitchen, the high-tech dishwasher purring sweetly. When it gently pauses between modes the distant growl of trucks or planes eases into the gap.

I'm catsitting for a gamelan acquaintance in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. Seated on dramatic hills of quiet, upscale residences, it offers me an escape from the presence of others. After a depression scare this morning the sun mercifully appeared, nonchalant about its habitual lateness in these parts. There's nothing that leeches creative energy from my soul like grayness -- a toxic neutrality of weather, soundscape, and effort. Incredulity incarnate.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Ouch: Oppression hurts everyone again

The scene: Rainbow Grocery, at the pasta bulk bins on a early Tuesday afternoon.
Bulk bins at Rainbow
Me, casting about: There aren't any tongs in these bins...
Person next to me talking to a friend about the pastas: Guess not. You can use one of those new plastic bags. Put your hand in it and pick it up, that'll keep things clean.
Me, still casting about: Yeah, but the whole point of this is not to use more plastic.
Person, stopping: That's Earth.
I'd like to believe this person was complimenting my Earth-consciousness. I was a touch low blood sugar at lunchtime, but the disparagement I heard in his voice rang in my ears. He was dismissing my radical eco conservationism as unrealistic -- in the middle of a liberal, worker-owned, eco-conscious store.

And if he weren't an older white man, or if I weren't a younger, smaller brown person of "androgynous" demeanor, he wouldn't have said it. 

And if I haven't been taking "corrections" from miserable, privileged Americans for as long as I can remember, it wouldn't have left me deeply troubled.

If you were to finish writing this scene, how would it go? Would I look directly at the stranger? Say something to him or his friend? Call the attention of other shoppers? Or would I be shocked into silence, twitching around the stab from a sick, consumption-obsessed institution? Give your ending a title and I'll post my favorite to your credit.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gender Reel Sept 7-9

I've been invited to develop full-contact violin for a festival featuring gender non-conforming artists in Philadelphia. My mother donated a bunch of frequent flyer miles but I'm still about $100 short of travel fees. Hit Donate on the right if you've any to spare!

EDIT: As of July 28 my transportation will be covered! Thanks to my mom, Gender Reel, and a reader like you, I will be part of Gender Reel 2012!

Here's the Transition performance of it from last spring at Asian Arts Initiative. I would probably work from this and new material from my dramatic culture clashes of the past few months. You'll want to view it from relative privacy and quiet.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Release: Angklung Buleleng

Today I am pleased to publish on Bandcamp a downloadable CD of recordings taken in 2007 and 2012 in Munduk, Bali. These recordings feature three different groups of four- and seven-key angklung, a traditional slendro pentatonic bronze ensemble.

Unlike studio recordings, this collection includes all the contextual sounds that signal the perpetuation of angklung and other Balinese music through generations of cultural and political upheaval. Most often gamelan, especially angklung, perform not for an attentive audience but as part of regular Hindu ceremonies.

I witnessed the most striking evidence for this in the unskilled but functional practice in migrant communities in Central Sulawesi. The sekaa, or group, comprised predominantly of Balinese laborers, produced rough sketches of the required repertoire: lelambatan for temple ceremonies, bondres half-mask skit comedy, classic kebyar, and ancient Rejang. Even the dancing was a mere shadow of the high-tension, balletic drama of performances on the island. The arts are essential to these ceremonies, though, so the artists take a day off from the farms and receive some compensation.

And why all the ceremonies? If nothing else, Balinese are a deeply pious people. Exposure to such extremes of geology, weather, and imperialist violence tends to correlate with escalation in faith practice.

A prominent ceremonial sound on some of these tracks is amplified solo singing. These songs belong to the same class of music as angklung for cremation ceremonies, the Pitra Yadnya, and are collected in published volumes of text. Hired singers, both male and female, train in private collectives and use these books as references. When women sing in unison at these same ceremonies the songs are from the same collections but they use no reference, having learned through community practice.

When you hear these contextual sounds, please comment with the following details and I'll update them to this main post:
  • Track Number 
  • Start time 
  • End time (optional) 
  • Description of the sound

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Domestic Chinese Journalism

On my flights home from Indonesia, I picked up a couple English language newspapers at transfer points in China. The journalism was a disappointment: void of analysis, vague, and weak. I found the writing full of high school level errors and several times cried out or threw the papers down in disgust. This is not what I expected in a translation of the advanced Chinese language TV news broadcasts of my childhood and of my dad's satellite state television.

A friend who enjoyed a current production of Nixon In China (1987) pointed out that it made only limited attempt to portray the expanse of cultural difference across which the Chinese characters would have experienced those scenes. Without trying to verify this by watching the opera I'll take the observation as fuel for pursuing an explanation for what I perceive as intolerable journalism.

One might consider state control of media to be a limiting factor on how compelling or critical content may be. Take this example, however, of an award-winning investigative article on a case of corporate environmental degradation with serious community impacts. Mind, the award is a joint project of The Guardian and two NGOs. While reading it from the safety of my dining room table it flashed me back to the literature- and internet-starved hours in flight with its headless, tailless, insubstantial paragraphs randomly organized under directionless headers. Even the concluding paragraph leaves me wondering what the heck a reader is to conclude:
Yang Yongsheng said that the village hasn't had any contact with the factory and that no monetary value has been placed on the harm caused by the pollution. Meanwhile, Lu Shaofei of Qilin district's environmental authority said that compensation has not yet been discussed. The next step, he said, would be to engage a qualified agency to assess the damages. The government hasn't yet issued a verdict on the case. Although chromium pollution is extremely serious, in this instance it was dealt with quickly, and there were no human casualties.
The short of it is, these articles fail the So What? test. But what does this teach us about how Chinese communicate or what they expect from media? Ancillary to my question is the effectiveness of English language education to speakers of other languages. Fluency creates confusion or even provocation if applied with culturally inappropriate persuasive methods. 

A Fulbright scholar who taught journalism at an international program in China argues that asserting Western fact-checking techniques within the limiting context of state controlled media may create a mutually conversant international discourse. I cringe at assumptions that Western Europe-origin methods are "higher" or universally more true or applicable than other existing ones, but since white America hasn't budged, the burden of multi-method-ism is on the rest of us.

If we can't understand each other, we can't trust the other to have beneficent intentions. 

PS My next $10 donation is going to the purchase of this collection of eight groundbreaking cases of "watchdog journalism" between 1990 and 2003. If the third-person rewrites are anything like the introduction, it promises to be a more satisfying read than my examples above. Further, there are splashy precedents such as Liu Binyan's People or Monsters (1978) in the driving baogao wenxue style. I'm on it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I had an astonishing moving-vocalizing meditation yesterday at a friend's earth listening. It was just four of us for just over an hour at the peninsular sundial in Berkeley Marina. One could see, if one looked, far in the distance in every direction: downtown SF, downtown Oakland, Richmond refinery, El Cerrito.

I didn't look. I spent the vast majority of the time glued to the prickly dry grass and occasional stone, listening, echoing. Sometimes I pulled my shirt over my head so the wind wouldn't be so loud in my ears and to reduce sight, smell, and the sense of anyone nearby. I was an audience of one, though others (including innocent passersby) heard me. Once my friend even responded freely, adding her own echoes and echoing mine.

But I rarely noticed the music of it. I reduced as much as I could to my lizard brain, listening without filter, letting my echoes wander with my attention, repeating freely. I shed all self-consciousness in minutes and attained such peace at the end.

It was not unlike my lovely 3-1/2 hours at Piedmont's Garden of Memory, where musicians set up in every nook in a spectacular mausoleum and performed like sound installations. Audience members wandered at will, stopping for as long as they pleased, often chatting enthusiastically with the performer between improvs. Sound spilled and poked across exhibits. The professional performances of soft, sensitive pieces on one stage were occasionally punctuated by a honking stationary bike installed just outside the entrance. It made me giggle. I didn't hear anyone complain.

I've been appreciating the most recent RadioLab that my dear friend Kerrick shared with me. It has recast my concept of the lizard brain in artistic context and references a 2007 neurology paper:

For those who are interested, I've included my real-time notes from the meditation below.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

DIY - Doing it yourself

I want to give a shoutout for this simple but powerful TED talk about contributing to a world we want with the work of our own hands.

It's human to complain. I even take relief and joy in sharing a vent with a fellow discontent. But my deepest satisfaction is in getting something done, however imperfectly, finally and with certainty.  I feel this way about my latest stay in Indonesia, where I got a real taste of life there and decided I won't stay, and about the CD projects.

I wanted to share my passion for the less-known sounds of my teacher's music and I did. I wanted listeners to have an inkling of the complex, unfamiliar cultural context, and made interpretive jackets. Now I want you to have a space to share your reflections, disagreements, and additional observations of this music. Is the comment option space enough?

Friday, June 15, 2012

First field recordings released on Bandcamp

In an era of music defined by studio recordings I am pleased to release the first of a series of CDs that capture the essential social contexts of Balinese gamelan. Unlike the last album these recordings are unaltered by mastering and may include environmental sounds from the ceremonies that called for the repertoire.

This first release surveys six distinct genres of gamelan from Buleleng, North Bali. This is an excellent way for a newcomer to sample a variety of traditional Balinese music, whether that's you or a friend. For details, samples, and a complete track listing please visit The sliding scale starts at $9 for download, $10 hardcopy. Folks earning $50k, please contribute $20.
Please comment about the music, including environmental sounds, here.

PS If you're still looking for last week's Gerantang/Rindik album, it's on the side navigation bar.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bandcamp goes swimmingly & first review

As the first week of Bandcamp sales comes to a pleasantly active close, I've made it a fair way down my laundry list of tasks and errands to bring Munduk music to the world. I was satisfied to send Pak Terip and his son home with over 80 CDs ready for sale to art-hungry tourists. I did reserve the compact printer-scanner and a surplus of labels and sleeves to continue my work here. grossed over $50 in five days!

 Some folks still prefer a hard copy audio CD. Thanks to my three housemates for letting me have the whole dining room table much more than 25% of the time.
A case of 100 for double the price of a case of 30? and yes, it's holding up the power adapter to the Singaporean printer.
I was super pleased to find not only that thin, glossy paper perfect for inserts, but with the appropriate settings the troublesome printer could turn out some much better-looking inserts than before. So if you weren't happy with your Indo-diy copy, you'll get much nicer ones for your loved ones if you order them now. Just donate by PayPal or Dwolla (top right).

I ran into my estranged art mom at the Grand Lake Theatre (he was going in, not I) and he immediately demanded if I was making art. I squirmed, squeaking that I was working on something (I am), but I got an encouraging mention in the transmasculine community's favorite nonfree zine. The latest issue of Original Plumbing was a party of performers. The reviewer (not an acquaintance) briefly described about half a dozen FTM musicians on one page. For my paragraph he drew heavily on my bio posted to the right, which I like -- that's why I keep a current bio posted.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tripittaka is up on Bandcamp! and instrument making

Sanggar Seni Tripittaka's first independent album, Munduk Gerantang, is now available for download at the same sliding scale starting at $12. No shipping costs!

You can even sample and purchase individual tracks if you please, but the sliding scale starts higher. I'm not driving a hard bargain, that's how the Paypal fees work. I'm working with Bandcamp to accept an alternate means of payment (Dwolla).

While you're sampling, here are highlights from my last weeks in Central Sulawesi. We made instruments in the backyard whenever we were home.

Here we are sawing PVC pipes for resonators. The open length directs the sound from the bamboo key to be placed above and the pitch matching the closed length is prolonged and amplified.
Often friends from the group or gamelan across the street would visit and help out. 
Sometimes we get overzealous with the sawing, raising the pitch above the target key, and have to cut a larger piece to glue up our mistake.
Unlike bamboo resonators which have natural stops at the end of each segment, plastic pipes need stops added to the end. The shop didn't have the right size caps so we had to saw and cut them to circumference from scrap wood, then pound them into place.

Tying up an instrument for shipment. Pak Putu (center) leads the gamelan at Pura Sari across the street.
I got better with knives, fast. When I first got to Sulawesi I had a lot of trouble sticking CD labels on CDs so they were center, not hanging over and not wrinkled. Not anymore!
"We're helping..."
We also made bamboo angklung, the ancient predecessor of the four-key bronze kind used in funerals. This set, unfortunately, we had to leave unfinished. All the parts were there but we didn't have time to assemble them. They were a gift to the local police station, but I think the work also helped Pak Terip get stress relief from the disagreeable teaching contract. He and his son didn't get paid until the night before they left, and with the small advances Terip had begged earlier during our stay, on top of the cost of transportation home, it really hadn't been profitable.
Our host's servant who wept bitterly the whole last week we were there is a sweet Javanese widow worked 16 hours a day, most of them alone in the house. Here she is doing laundry. It must be dead quiet there now that we're gone. Someday she'll be able to go home to her fortunately nearby children.
All things come to an end: my last photo with my teacher. He's shaving down a dowel while I position the webcam.

We were actually having some "juice" that very last day over the tenuousness of my proposal to bring him Stateside for a service and performance tour. College students in particular demand the kind of world-savvy, intercultural, multimedia, participatory presentations we would have to offer as a team. Yet the responsibility of facilitating immigration is no triviality, and negotiating commitment and boundaries has been difficult. But in the spirit of the culture, we set aside small differences to share in a deep love of our fellows.

That's the cultural context of my music. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

New instrument factory

Yours for $326.63  not including S&H.
Finish optional (this is unfinished), paint and carving are additional.

Sometimes you make a new instrument and your apprentice makes a video of himself fooling around on it. I Made Terip custom made this particular 11-key model for a Parisian client seeking the baritone quality of West Bali jegog. It features the A#  major scale with lowered seventh (si). This is a diversion from both traditional jegog tuning, approximately A# - C - E - G#, and tingklik tuning, C# - D - E - G# - A.

Originating in North Bali, tingklik is often confused with suspended-key rindik or grantang. It is constructed with a row of flat bamboo or coconut shell keys resting on beams and affixed with one pin through a single hole in each key; a matching row of resonators, split along half to two-thirds of their lengths, sit parallel to and beneath the keys.

An advantage of this construction is its relative stability in temperate climates. As humidity and temperature reach extremes bamboo, like wood, stretches and shrinks, losing the keys' original fine tuning and even cracking, losing resonance altogether. The type of thick bamboo used here is most resistant to climatic change and locally called Petung Jenggot.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tingklik Jegog: mini horse-bamboo instrument for export

A French composer ordered a tingklik jegog, low-register tingklik in a major scale with lowered seventh.

It took three day-trips, but they successfully harvested large bamboo appropriate for export to temperate climes. I stayed home, but there were tales of our distant cousin falling down the steep hill, an albino snake, and having to find ever more skilled bamboo-climbers to hack this stuff down from the thick and oblique stand.
Harvested bamboo with sandals for scale
After a day of drying Gedung chopped them into more workable lengths and set them in the hot Sulawesian sun to dry.
Kosil, left, gets some idle suling making done while the other Balinese chat.
I scrubbed the dry mud and mold with soap and stood them up to dry. Another day passed before Kosil tried his hand at drafting the keys.
Low register keys are very quiet without a matching resonator!
The fundamental is determined by the ratio of length to thickness
The first octave
Those are great lengths of PVC pipe for resonators. We prefer bamboo for aesthetic and economic reasons, but the type used for resonators invariably suffers in temperate climates. There are also great lengths of wood for the frame.
Planing wood for the frame
Gedung examines hand-chiseled legs. I exclaimed that's way too long and Terip batted me away humorously. Eventually he came over and marked the long piece to be cut down.
That's way too long!
Stay tuned for a video and sound sample of the finished instrument! 

Friday, April 27, 2012

New plans and TWS fundraising

A Bali Arts Institute professor, Nyoman Windha, called Pak Terip a couple days ago to ask him to play a Western collaboration at the Arts Festival. Kosil is going home for good at the same time in early June, and since I'm something of an unwelcome pet of Terip's here I'm going to make passage home Stateside. The situation reminds me of Bob Brown's dog in Payangan, who was abused when he was home in California and ended up a fearful, cranky animal like most Balinese dogs.

Exception to my stagnant state of mind here: I finally decided to break out of my ground state of passivity and learn to make compound resonator keys, the building block of my teacher's bamboo instruments. 

Here is a prototypical example. The ones on the right I cracked in the process of hacking and sawing -- granted, the saw is way oversize for the job -- but the others are passable keys with compound tone! I didn't even cut myself, though my arm woke me last night with tendonitis pain and the pads of both thumbs are sore from handling the knife in unfamiliar ways. Terip took pity on my efforts after a couple of bad takes and coached me a little; his touch with the same knife shaped the bamboo like wax.

Which brings me to my fundraiser for The Walden School, a summer music camp that uses innovative and celebratory techniques to develop musicianship and composition practice. Kids who can't afford it can apply for a scholarship, which is where the money goes. My goal is $300, and once your gifts pass the $100 mark the Board will match everything I raise dollar for dollar!

What's the fun in giving this time? I'm going to make compound keys to standard -- no easy feat as all my examples have been just passable -- one a day. $10 sponsors one key. Pledge another $3 per tingklik key and I will attempt these flat, thick bamboo pieces best for temperate climates. If we make it to the tingklik keys it'll be good news for instrument making Stateside.

At the end of my project I'll record and post the scale produced as a thank-you. If you want, request a small key as a souvenir and I'll try to fit it in my suitcase. Thanks also to the Balinese who are donating scrap and sale quality bamboo for my project, and a big thank-you to my teacher.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The smell of CDs burning

Labels are printed, cases are coming out of their shrinkwrap, and Pak Terip and I are taking turns with the two power outlets on the extension cord to our room. There's a post office in the village proper. Y'all will have your shiny Munduk Gerantang CDs in no time.

You can sample and buy the first couple tracks that have uploaded on ... eventually I'll have the bandwidth (no pun intended) to get that site up and running.

Still gifting orders with a free sampler CD from my all-genres field recordings. Click through and donate, according to your means, $12-20. Remember to include your address.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

From Central Sulawesi

A desert-like breeze is welcome as it floods in the room's large house-shaped window. It carries the not unpleasant fragrance of burning coconut husks, apparently waste from a common industry here. The water here is darkly tinged with minerals, staining laundry yellow if one is not quick to dry it. I like the iron content for my thalyssemia, but a glance at the neighbor's kids suggests something else sinister in the environment.

I worried about numerous small, slender bugs in the bed the first morning but they didn't seem to be biting and Kosil assured me they were okay. On the other hand we are all covered in mild rashes. Mine healed in a week but fresh, flea-bite-like ones appear. Pak Terip bathes his skin in Bokashi fermented herbal oil day and night.

The first few days Pak Terip dozed in the daytime heat. Now they've stepped up practice, having us there from morning small-group practice until night. Of course the organizer, Pak Sadyana, buys us lunch, fat individual portions of rice and savory dishes arranged in a brown wax paper pyramid. Evening rehearsals are productive but dripping hot and plagued by mosquitos. Kosil mainly works the drummers while I take on one side of the gangsa and try errantly to help the trunk melody, jegog and calung. The guys seem a decent enough bunch, joking with each other and laughing when I made an egregious mistake that drew harsh words from my teacher.

The Balinese emigrants understandably vary. Some are at least as hospitable as the folks back in the Buleleng mountains, dropping in on us and offering to take us out to see sights and dine at their homes. One lent me his only laptop and modem when word got out that my Linux system wasn't working with the local mobile broadband options. The gamelan has invited me to perform with them at the festival in Yogjakarta come September, expenses paid. Of course I want to see this through to the end, so I again have incentive to raise those visa renewal dollars.

Cool things I saw on the full-moon holiday Purnama, when we played a family temple initiation ceremony (Dewa Yatnya) from morning until early afternoon and then prayed at the temple our host serves as treasurer:
  • a very high platform, about two people-heights up, fully decked out in cloth and banten, the four corner poles extending up to full-height penjur.
  • At the end of the sacred mask ritual Sidha Karya a household member cracked a raw egg and sprinkled it over offerings placed on the ground, then smashed a ripe coconut on the stony ground. Terip explained it symbolized gratitude to Mother Earth.
  • A kumpul, traditional Balinese wood bell, tower decorated on all sides with Christian freizes. It's religiously very mixed here, though around the village everyone's Balinese.
Our host Komang recorded donations at the front of the Purnama congregation. At the end of the ceremony as everyone was leaving he took the podium and announced every household and the amount contributed. Many gave Rp 20. but several gave more. I remarked on this to Pak Terip who replied it's only the right way to practice transparency.

Don't worry, I still won't identify you and your contributions without your permission. 

PS No, we didn't feel the earthquake.  

Sunday, April 1, 2012

CD production goes DIY

To those angels who stepped up to finance the Gerantang CD production: I've not forgotten you.

Far from it, I've worked with what we got and brought production home. Here it all is, purchased in Singapore and packed up again to head to Sulawesi with us tomorrow.
If you've seen me in person you know I seldom go anywhere without my handy notebook. That's the red one shown in my Network for New Music short vid. Yes, our CD production supplies are tucked like Klotski blocks between lube, gloves, safety shears, and my enema bag. Btw your CD comes with free queer unicorn glitter!

Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Last ceremonies in Bali

My enjoyment of my last two ceremonies in Bali were marred by a thankfully painless but bothersome stomach bug and computer troubles.

A family temple in the village had its birthday odalan complete with gong kebyar. In the morning priests and the women who help them set out low spirit offerings and prayed before them. At about noon the cengceng section of the gamelan trapsed out and back in with one of the frequent circumambulations to invite the gods to arrive. Times of day are believed to be ruled by different spirits: morning for low spirits and afternoon for gods.

I ate white rice with salt and was passing out from faintness and fever by the time the dances started. Playing tenor suling was a mistake -- it requires much more air than the soprano. Three variously trained young girls performed a welcome dance followed by the bird courtship kebyar Cendrawasih. Then half-mask comic bondres started and I was trapped behind attentive audience members. I'm starting to get that there are words of wisdom as well as slapstick comedy in there.

When the sacred mask came out for final offerings around 6pm I managed to slip out.

The next day was a little better: I filled up on coconut water right from the fruit before helping set up instruments in a family compound. This funeral was odd in that it culminated in a burial at the cremation grounds. It was also a little odd because the appropriate offerings hadn't arrived so the seka waited almost two hours before we could play. At this point I decided I was ready for a course of Immodium and maybe Cipro and wished there were time for someone to run an errand to town.

In the afternoon the seka went home to be replaced by the Banjar Pasut angklung and four laid-back men from Padang Bulia playing rare gambang with my teacher. I'd never seen my teacher's instruments before: he crafted the keys from thick bamboo instead of traditional wood but the sound is unmistakably gambang. I spent hours studying the parts and composition as they played and I am still puzzled.

One man doubled on the bronze sarong melody instruments. Two on one side played the extremely asymmetrical gambang kotekan, interlocking pattern while two on the other side played a kotekan more like the kind of ornamentation reyong does, on soprano kantil instruments. As for the septatonic scale for pieces in pentatonic modes, the keys are laid out three in the left hand and four in the right. If you haven't seen gambang before, you'd notice first the mallets branched much like four-mallet vibraphone playing. The 3 + 4 key groupings are octavated 3 3' 4 4' so each player plays octaves with each stroke. But the octaves aren't tuned consistently -- I'll have to ask Pak Terip.

Photos may come, but after a long time -- I asked an attentive European photographer to send some when she gets home.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mic broken

I noticed while recording angklung at yesterday's ceremony the recording levels were displaying super low to zero. To my horror this morning I found nothing was recorded because my mic is only registering a quite hum, like a bad electrical connection.

Goodbye, 6-year-old SONY mic. But it could be weeks before I get to a store to buy another. Wish me luck. Maybe this is the Muse's message to me that I'd better shift focus to that cremation composition (see previous post) rather than recording others' works.

Ngaben: your thoughts on death and grieving

I woke up and immediately noticed the LEDs were out on my laptop. Damn, I'd fallen asleep during a lightening storm and left the machine unplugged. It was still dark but a glance at my indiglo watchface  warned me just before it squeaked to life. As I reluctantly roused myself I was afraid I'd have to wake the neighbor to drive me, but as dawn softly lit the usual haze it felt warm and I headed down to the village alone, on foot.

Today we honored Pak Putu Sumarjaya in his Bali Hindu cremation ceremony (ngaben). He was Made Terip's first cousin and a respected and liked musician. They traveled abroad together to teach and headed the village gamelan together until 2002. He supported my teacher through last year's grievous times but succumbed rapidly in a struggle with stomach cancer. He was one of a few experienced musicians to volunteer to teach the women's gamelan -- one of my memories of him was watching him, great eyeglasses glinting, carry on the cengceng part in Pak Terip's new composition just a couple months ago. He was not much over 60.

His wife Ibu Laheni was run ragged with grief, supported by son and daughter, through the ceremony. I gave her my meager gift of 54,000 Indonesian Rupiah in a small envelope I'd bought the day before for the occasion -- six times nine, the yin and yang numbers. My teacher had advised me to dispense with the usual gift of two kilos of sugar for cash to help with hospital and cremation expenses. She said only that Pak Putu was dead, thanked me, and directed me to the refreshments.

The family compound was compact in the middle of the village such that the angklung was packed onto a stoop like sardines. A few of us squatted or sat on filthy concrete steps and the alleyway. The weather stayed perfect, though, clearing at noon just enough to dry the rain-soaked road, but not to burn the pallbearers.

Every time, the hours-long ceremonies afford me plenty of time to reflect on death and mourning. This time was more personal -- the widow had been especially kind to me in rehearsal, in casual meetings on the road, and at last month's birthday ceremony for her grandson. As I waited with over a hundred others for the bulk of mourners to proceed from the family compound to the street, as I gazed on the bamboo platform on which Pak Putu's coffin would be carried, and as I watched his remains and offerings go up in smoke at the cremation grounds, I felt the familiar fear weigh down my body. Every Balinese knows with a certainty I can only imagine that their death will be honored this way. While I live, I will mourn every Balinese I love, when they pass away, in a ceremony much like this. And that will, more likely than not, include my teacher.

The dead require nothing, but the grief of the living requires this much labor from this many people. Examining my teacher's collection of beautifully copied lelambatan melodies yesterday, I hovered in uncertainty that all these pieces were in living memory. Pak Terip, paging through them in their broken stitching,  admitted here was a tricky one he hadn't gotten yet. Are the dead to be remembered like this, lovingly collected records with an organic syntax known only to a diminishing number who knew them well?

In the comments please honor someone you loved or respected who has passed away, or for whose future passing you are already emotionally preparing yourself. You don't have to include a name. What I'm looking for is your piece of the truth.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The gerantang recording becomes a saga

After sinking a couple hundred US dollars on CD production and mailing materials, I dragged my goodies through Singapore airport security. My bold new acquaintance, writer Nick Krieger, followed along on the detour to Aneka Records in Tabanan and helped me up the trail to the little house in the orchard. And he witnessed the musicians' collective dissatisfaction with the quality of the products.

Let's have a listen (embedded for a limited time below): The Aneka sample is a couple clips from what they made, the Qian one is from my collection.

[EDIT 7/29/12: you can sample these contrasting qualities directly on our Bandcamp page; the unmastered is the final track]

I would expect a professional recording to show the crispness of kendang drums, vibrato of suling flute, hum of bass undurundur, all through distinct layers of polos and sangsi pemade (alto) and kantil (soprano) gerantang. Indeed, the playback at sound check sounded like a good balance. But then they added a dollop of reverb that smeared much of the precision and nuance of fine performance and tuning.

Crisp, clear, unadulterated 
As I await the sponsor's followup, I continue to assemble my collection of field recordings and my teacher looks into options for an unpaid recording session with just me and the big group. I do have enough small-group recordings to make a CD, so you early birds will surely get some treats in the mail. Although they are not laboratory-clean studio recordings, they bring the power of music in its social context. I'll keep y'all posted.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Joged: the sacred drag dance for babies' birthdays

In the past two weeks I finally got to see joged dances in family compounds. I say finally because Pak Terip is not only a bamboo specialist but the son of I Putu Togog, the inventor of the genre.

At the first joged, packed between rehearsals and performances at Undiksa for graduation and the fancy hotel, I was surprised how many men and women refused to dance when chosen. The first drag joged kept picking female partners. The cisfemale joged all got humped and nuzzled in inappropriate places by most of their choices, midst hilarious uproar. At the end of the night, the temple sash worn by each partner while dancing is tied around the father's waist and concluding blessings are given his three-month-old baby.

At the second, the dancing was marginally less offensive. Most of the young men, packed like sardines in the audience area, were morbidly afraid to partner when picked, running away, and some even refused to dance once onstage. At one special moment the head of the family danced and Putu signaled the group to play the Garuda-beating scene from Legong Keraton. Someone immediately threw leafy branches down from the road, which the dancers picked up to make great drama of beating each other's behinds and even the partner's groin. I continued to be impressed by evidence of how deeply ingrained the classical repertoire is in the Balinese public.

As a sex worker, I found it educational and thought-provoking. I struggled to balance the significance of sex workers and Western strippers against the overtly social, even sacred role of joged. Certainly the men seemed extremely entitled to the joged's bodies whereas the MTF drag bodies were unanimously shunned as undesirable. Yet there was no per-interaction cash exchange as there is with dancers in bars and clubs. The dancers were paid for performing by the host family.

Sanggar Seni Tripittaka during a recording session with Aneka Records last month.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Next 20 CD sales ship with free sampler

The deadline hovering at a week to finance Munduk's first professional recording of its suspended bamboo ensemble. The next 20 folks to click "Donate" to the right and send $12-20 will get not only the first copies of the CD but a gift of best picks from my field recordings. This sampler CD features lovely classical gender wayang and lelonggoran (a North Bali trompong genre) as well as competition-grade compositions by Putu Putrawan for gong kebyar. I'll throw in a topeng improvised mask dance as well, one not featured in the dance CD distributed in 2004.

If possible, transfer funds from a US checking account as a Gift to avoid merchant fees.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Public service announcement: Reyong tuning

This is how I Made Terip does it:

The appearance of tuned bunga ends up like this:
[photo coming soon]

Don't let yours turn out like this (thinned with a blade, or worse, a grinder):

These terompong keys from village Unggahan are going back in the forge. The blade damages the structural integrity of the key and increases the risk of cracks.

Gerantang CD financing update: 10% with two weeks to go

Keep it coming, folks! Click Donate to the right.

Orders to date from the campaign to raise $1000 to produce this bamboo music album recorded by Aneka Records:

Indonesia: $20
Singapore: $20
New York: $20
Washington, D.C.: $20
San Francisco: $20

Total: $100

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New CD release: Munduk Gerantang, North Bali bamboo music

I'm thrilled to announce the first commercial release of Munduk bamboo music.

Yesterday Aneka Records set up a battery of mics in a pavilion at the high-end hotel on the hill midst the 12-piece bamboo gamelan in my previous post. Six hours, a box of wax paper-wrapped rice and meats, and a round of coffee later, there were two raw hours of classical and new pieces taped.

I've uploaded a rehearsal of Pak Terip's newest piece, also mentioned in the previous post, for your previewing (pre-auditioning?) pleasure. Obviously my equipment wasn't up to the acoustics of the space, but it gives an idea of the woody, soulful sound in dramatic pelog scale.

To finance the CD production we're offering the first copies at a sliding scale of $12-20, with free shipping for orders of 10 or more. The jacket will feature full color photos and complete credits. The pieces will be mixed and mastered under I Made Terip's supervision once we reach the $1000 production goal. Comment with questions or make your free-shipping orders directly by Paypal.

During lunch we were all startled by an explosive collision between a jackfruit and the tile roof. I have now witnessed a giant spiky fruit tumbling dangerously from its perch.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

How an appraisal took 10.5 hours

Yesterday was one of the rainiest here, moderate to heavy with intermittent downpours. Every time it let up for a minute, Pak Terip called, "Qian! Ayo!" let's go! whereupon it would immediately pour again. He wanted to check out a gamelan that needs tuning in Pelapuan, a village down an assortment of winding and flooded roads.

He was in a strange mood. When I got up he had been at it with Kosil (background) and a couple other artisans making a new set of pelog scale gerantang (click for sound sample):

I asked if they were for himself as opposed to a commission, and he answered in the affirmative. Around midday he was done with the set of 14 keys he was working on, and sat thoughtfully in his pile of bamboo shavings playing phrases softly on the instrument beside him (above center), stopping to gaze in stillness or to take a drag from the cigarette resting on the chopping block. I asked if he was composing, but he didn't answer. When I tried to clean up his work area, he stopped me, protesting that he liked it.

Eventually he had the help string new keys on an old frame, scolding him for doing it too loosely. On the paired instruments he played a piece or two with Kosil before the latter got distracted fussing with a new suling. More solo ruminating on a playful melody that would race were he to play it through.

It was almost two when we finally trekked up to the road in light drizzle and waited some ten minutes for the driver to return to the parked jeep. One of the players, Datoex, from the sanggar followed along; "melali," he answered when I asked why, "just wandering." He was 20, a high school grad and unemployed aside from helping out with instrument making and playing gigs. He shared his cassava and rice cake snacks as the jeep wound its way through the awful weather and roads to an empty warehouse on terraced rice fields.

A woman armed with a giant umbrella greeted us as we waited on a covered raised platform. Eventually she brought coffee. We waited more than an hour before she appeared again, excusing the owner's absence for the rain. Pak Terip roused from his nap, made a phone call, and off we went to sit with 'a friend' in a neighboring house.

The driver, Datoex, and I hunched at one end of the table while Pak Terip chatted with the friend about alcohol, gambling, and some other topics I couldn't discern. Datoex and I joked under our breaths and shoved roasted beans in our nostrils for entertainment. We were two or three hours there before another friend arrived, chatted even more, and then caravanned with us back to the warehouse. It was long after dark.

The gamelan themselves were interesting: a septatonic metal angklung and new gong kebyar, and collection of cengceng, drums, and suling. The elephantine warehouse was the biggest acoustical mistake I've ever been in; I felt drunk or drugged at first, wondering why I saw my teacher damping keys but heard them ringing continuously. Then I couldn't help laughing at how out of tune the reyong was, and Pak Terip took advantage of my evident mirth to sell his services. After the necessary fuss about how much work was necessary, the men involved sat to examine the drums.

Then, the moment I live for: one man placed a bunch of suling before my teacher. He picked them up one by one, improvising circular-breathed phrases one after another. His breath filled the warehouse like sourceless light. Again and again, my breath caught. On a peculiarly flattened note goosebumps flashed like ice splashes up my left arm and side and the right side of my head but left my core body steaming (pardon the somatic minutia). My mind flashed to dreams of busking and playing restaurants and concerts in America.

I understand gigging takes more time than the actual engagement, but if I can help it, an appraisal to tune and fix gamelan in America will not take 10.5 hours.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

No rehearsal, just get it done

At midnight I was pretending to pray along with the small gamelan geguntangan accompanying shadow puppet-like singing at a Tilem ceremony. It was a mixed gathering of locals and Balinese from Jakarta; a dalang, or puppetmaster, took turns with family members to sing from books in Kawi and Balinese. It was neat to see the simplified, unpitched gamelan (keyed gong, cengceng, three metal and bamboo kempli plus kajar and tawatawa) follow kendang (double-headed drum) at intervals and in phrases determined by the texts. The suling (vertical flute) had to follow not only melodies chosen by the singers but in keys that fit their registers; there was much heroic shuffling of instruments and alternate fingering.

The singing was intended to invite taksu, but the magic happened for me when my teacher picked up a suling after the regular player had given up matching one singer's key. Bending over the kendang in his lap, he sent flickering bamboo melody like stones skipping from the singer's notes, quick and true, spontaneously dancing over vocal ripples. There was no rehearsal, no precedent, only the resonant meeting of  living fluency and long vocal lines of texts older than memory. Voice and breath; characters sometimes refined, other times monsterous; accompanist at once submissive and flying high between lines; together secure in the carriage of pulsing gamelan.

At a signal from the dalang or the regular flutist, or from the content of the text itself he would drop the flute and rouse the gamelan with lightning-quick drumming. A nod to the gong player for shorter cycles, a subtle glance in his son's direction and the ensemble leaped and cruised as one. I had been sitting with him barely an hour before the start of the ceremony when he got the call inviting him to play; they wanted him there immediately and he protested that he had no ride -- the house was a ways across the village. Similarly last week the village gamelan sprang it on him to drum the sacred Rangda dance just before it was beginning.

So it goes in a town with four fluent drummers: my teacher and his sons. Welcome, year of the dragon.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Field and concert recordings available

If you like reading about my Balinese family, send a donation by clicking the button to the right. $20 gets me internet for a month, any more helps me secure the basic cost of living: $60 monthly food and coffee, a room in the family complex, $10-$20 rides for odd errands into town. I'm feeling the negative replies from schools here. I have a few local projects cooking, but it'll take time to build social networks to support them.

Here's the first of a series of Sanggar Teripittaka recordings available for download with your donation: Kebyar Duduk. I can also mail a CD to you. Donations for recordings all go to the sanggar, not to me. The audio is field quality, but possible to transcribe for teaching purposes. It's from a 6-month temple ceremony at Wanagiri. Outside the temple walls, food and toy vendors lined the alley, making good business of the holiday traffic. Boys flashed their new toy helicopters and cars inside the temple. Periodically a train of priests and helpers would tour the shrines in the outer temple, placing incense, waving mirrored bowls, and throwing holy water.

Photo credit: Daniel La Maire

Sitting with the gong there, I caught myself again imagining a yet-incomprehensible anthropological complex in motion around me, incomprehensible at this point because of cultural and linguistic differences, but perhaps years from now soluable. If I'm unaware of the complex, does it cease to exist? Can I render it insignificant through sheer willpower? And through will, can I create a reality in which I am powerful and untroubled, always immersed in the ecstasy of Rumi?

I recalled, while recording gerantang at an empty hotel restaurant still earlier, Rumi's poem about serving wine. One mustn't taste this wine we serve, he wrote, while still intoxicated from one's previous drink. To enjoy life's present to the utmost, we must wait until we're over the impact of some prior moment. Worry, regret, crankiness spoil the magic of living. To live this way, and still function in producing good work, surviving, and caring for those one loves, has long been my challenge.

On to the year of the dragon. May it be powerful yet just.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mlas-pasan: Induction ceremony for the new instruments & space

Photos from Sunday's ceremony. The sanggar moved in right away, practicing. Check out the video -- that's Kosil, the composer, in the foreground leading on kendang (drum).

 Several women, all distant relatives, joined forces with Ibu Nengah over several days to make a zillion banten and sajen, sacred offerings crafted from leaves, fruit, and flowers. These alone were for the new gender wayang and gansa keys.

I figured out that men make satay and lawar because they require cooking only at the end, after everything's been peeled, chopped, and mixed. Here they are working outdoors. The kitchen was bustling with women cooking everything else.

The host is expected to feed all the workers. Yum.

The night before, all the instruments arrived from cramped makeshift quarters at Kosil's house up the street.

Pak Terip's brother Ketut carves little wood parts, I forget for what ceremonial purpose.

The priest's setup for the formal ceremony:

A Balinese cousin, Kadek Andre (left), drums.

Here's a favorite grandson... I guess nephew for me... in red, center right on calung. He reminds me of myself when I was little, eager to read and write. He's already good at gamelan, cocky as the other, older boys.

Offerings have to be placed everywhere -- someone climbed a ladder to hang these on the corners of the roofs. It's assurance that every spot in the new space is cleansed of bad intentions.

The boys in the background arrived ahead of the ceremony and dutifully await their turn to practice.
Some more close-ups of the banten for the instruments. There's all kinds of holy water in the little glasses for the god Visnu.

The itty-bitty house, left background, contains shrines. They opened the door for folks to pray during the ceremony. they made a temporary bamboo shrine to invite the sun goddess to rest here, along with a small platform with a sprig of leaves (middle ground) to appease bad spirits. The stack of offerings on the post (left foreground) is a permanent offering place for muses to grace the rehearsal space.

The priest had lots of help from family members while reciting the required mantras. Check out the flowers and leaves he's wrapping around the bell.
Also around his hat.
A spread of offerings before the temporary shrines:
And then a ritual fire with bamboo for the god Brahma:

Members of the sanggar wait patiently during the recitation. I provide some amusement with my webcam photography.

Pak Terip and his son Putu Putrawan, far right, the primary hosts, wait close at hand.

The concluding prayer during which all Hindu worshippers offer a series of poses and flowers. Pak Terip's youngest son, Ketut, center, and brother Kosil behind him:

I was too enthralled by this step of the ceremony to take pictures (also wary of flying holy water), but a train of sanggar and family members carried offerings and those symbolic tools in the bottom right corner of the spread above, circumambulating the family complex to cleanse the space spiritually.

And after all that there was more recitation dedicated to the new instruments. And that is where the remainder of your donations went!

Every year the instruments have a little birthday, which require a smaller version of this ceremony. If you liked this post, please share and click the button on the right to contribute.