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. 

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