Nov 03

γ is for…Gamma-lan

I Hate Music1 comment • 791 views

When mankind first had the perverse urge to create music he invented instruments with whatever came to hand. Hunters of the veldt made drums out of cowhide, the Tolmec’s made simple reed flutes. And the primitive tribe of Java, after a heavy day of work down the glockenspiel mines gathered together a few half hundred copper kettles, a ton or two of bronze bars hit with buffalo horn and a lot of wheels they found lying around to use as gongs. With such a blatant misuse of their natural resources they really should have died out. Instead they have created a Ganemlan orchestra, a fiendishly complicated musical version of Chinese water torture.

In his book ‘Music of Java’ Jaap Kunst says, “Gamelan is comparable to only two things, moonlight and flowing water.” I can only assume he means wet and it keeps you up into the early hours of the morning with its twee tinkles.


  1. 1
    flahr on 26 Mar 2011 #

    We ‘did’ gamelan at school in music. I somehow got it into my head that gamelan, the videogame soundtracks of Koji Kondo, and Philip Glass were all essentially the same thing. Not sure I managed to convince anyone else, but it was an excuse to play “Ocarina of Time” again so there we go.

    I think “The Greek Alphabet Of Piss-Poor Pop” is one of my favourites of the often tenuous but ever enjoyable Tanya review series (though the clear winner is “Around The World in 80 Lousy Tunes”, and “What Album Covers Are Really Trying To Tell Us” was great too).

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