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.