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THE STORY OF 'SAMBELAN' BY ED GARCIA, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF GAMELAN X
Gamelan X’s ‘Sambelan’ project is my collaboration with percussionist, Rob Peterson, and trumpet player, Josh Jerge.
‘Sambelan’ is a fusion project that incorporates Brazilian samba percussion and Balinese gamelan (samba + gamelan = sambelan), plus a Western brass section. The idea stemmed from the desire to create freshly innovative music that could be accessible to a wide range of audiences. Gamelan X is well-known for crafting rhythmically complex pieces for Balinese instruments, which may seem exotic to first-time listeners. While this has become a favorable attribute in Gamelan X’s growing audience, there are still many who have trouble being able to classify or compare GX’s unique sound. The ‘Sambelan’ project achieves a balance between the sonically familiar music of samba with the unique sounds of gamelan, in order to reach new audiences and innovate within the musical structures of contemporary gamelan.
Within all of this, though, I did not want to “water down” any of our music to fans of brass music, samba, or gamelan, so I sought out the following collaboration:
The core repertoire of “Sambelan” comes from percussionist-composer, Rob Peterson, who has spent much of his life studying Brazilian samba percussion. Utilizing his compositional formats, Rob and I were able to transform a few of his pieces. We arranged agogo bell patterns into Balinese reyong (metal kettle pots) patterns, and shaped tamborim (small frame drum) rhythmic patterns into Balinese cengceng kopyak (handheld cymbals) patterns, always maintaining the integrity of Rob’s work while showcasing the musical strengths of the Balinese instruments. By adding the Brazilian caixa (snare drum), surdo (bass drum), and a set of Balinese gongs, we were able to achieve a full sound of ‘sambelan’ fusion.
Once the skeletal style was created, I turned to trumpet player, Josh Jerge. Josh’s background and experience in a wide variety of genres and arrangements was essential to creating the riveting horn lines that serve as the melodic feature of this ensemble. The brass section – consisting of trumpets, trombones, and tuba – often have sweeping melodies that intertwine with the punctuations of the Brazilian surdo patterns and the Balinese gong cycle, while still drawing from easily recognizable genres like jazz, funk, and rock.
Since this project’s inception this past summer, ‘Sambelan’ has taken a life of its own. I have been inspired me to arrange Gamelan X’s classic beleganjur repertoire for our new “sambelan” ensemble; introducing new parts, such as horn melodies and new percussion arrangements. From this – instead of taking samba musical formats and fusing them with gamelan – I have taken gamelan musical formats and fused them with samba. The resulting horn lines share several unison themes with the complex and tempo-changing patterns of the cengceng kopyak and the reyong, and the caixa and surdo realize the original texture of Balinese kendang (traditional drum) in a fresh, new way.
Whether you are a seasoned fan of our intricate stage performances, hungering for a new genre of music, or just a curious on-looker, Gamelan X hopes to share with you our new version of world fusion music: something that all music lovers can enjoy. — Ed Garcia, Artistic Director, Gamelan X
‘Sambelan’ will be performed at the Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center on Friday, December 16, 2016. 8:00PM. Details below on Songkick.
GAMELAN X AT DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS: DAY OF THE DEAD, SAN FRANCISCO, 2016
The Día de los Muertos: Day of the Dead Processional and Festival of Altars in San Francisco is one our favorite yearly performances. For Gamelan X, the processional represents a meaningful connection between the traditions of Balinese gamelan baleganjur, which is used in Bali to accompany cremations and prepare the soul for the next life, and Día de los Muertos, which focuses on remembering loved ones who have passed on and helping them on their spiritual journey.
For this year’s processional, we revealed several pieces from our latest collaboration called ‘Sambelan,’ which combines the two marching art forms of samba and gamelan, as well as Gamelan X classics with fresh and funky samba drumming arrangements.
We found several performance videos from members of the audience. Visit the YouTube playlist below.
114% FUNDS RAISED FOR THE GAMELAN X GONG-RAISER
We are over-joyed to announce that The Great Gamelan X Gong-raiser was a huge success. Because of the generosity of our fans, our friends, and our family, we successfully raised 114% or $2855 of our $2500 goal in less than 30 days. For those who were not able to give a financial gift, but were active in sharing the Gong-raiser by social media and word of mouth, we are also grateful for you.
Thank you everyone and we are very excited to share our new gongs and new music with you!
Gamelan X would like to thank the following donors for their contribution to The Great Gamelan X Gong-raiser:
Dave and Barbara Harrell, MM, Evan Burton, Vera Brink, Ann Garcia, Paddy Sandino, Victoria Lo Mellin, Sarah Black, Mary McArthur, Christian Rice, Ron Scudder, Jeffery Dean, Anna Martín, Joe Bamberg, Lydia Martín, Durian Songbird, Josh Scanlon, Kathy Cochrane, Bret X Dorn and Roxanne X Dorn, nellajpt11, Carlie and Briana Linderman, Lisa Lazar, Micky Strachota, Katherine Huntington, B Frank Griggs, Owl Medicina, Sophie Mayer, Brian Baumbusch, Carla, higene, Amacker Bullwinkle, Paul Moran, monyetgila, Maddie Hogan, and several generous Anonymous donors.
THE GREAT GAMELAN X GONG-RAISER
Gamelan X is excited to announce the launch of our fundraiser, “The Great Gamelan X Gong-raiser!” We need your support to purchase and ship 5 new iron gongs from Bali, Indonesia to GX home-base in Oakland, California. These lightweight and versatile gongs will allow us to employ a new range of sounds in our music and give us more mobility in our processional performance. The benefits of these gongs makes them the perfect investment for Gamelan X.
We need your support to reach our $2500 goal and make this possible! Donors who contribute $40 or more will receive an invitation to a donor-only performance in April 2017, where you’ll be the first to see some brand new pieces performed on brand new gongs. Donors who give $100 or more will receive a high-quality sample library of all of our new gongs sounds. If you are unable to give, you can still contribute to our cause by sharing our Gong-raiser with your family and friends.
The Great Gamelan X Gong-raiser ends on August 19th. Please check out our Indiegogo page for more information, as well as a demonstration of these amazing instruments in our promotional video. Thank you so much everyone!