Aneh Tapi Nyata

1992, 13'


European instruments:
female voice
bass clarinet
electric guitar
2 electric mandolins

Balinese instruments
reong (pelog)
gender wayang (slendro)
tingklet (joged slendro)
3 gongs
2 kendang, preferably legong size


The text, as follows, is by the composer:

Apa arti dunia ini?
Mengembara, cari jamu pantas tamu untuk mengobatkan ngeri...
Zaman kami hilang tradisi - mana beli?
Kalau bisa, minta sisah dari banten masih asli...
Baru tiba membuka kopor saya - di dalam, selalu soal ikut jalan
Aneh tapi nyata
Lagu barat dinyanyi diiringi campuran begini...
Berkumpul sampai terpisah - sementara peleburan
Manis asam, terserah penonton

(What is the meaning of it all?
Wander around, look for a tonic fit for a foreigner to cure anxiety...
Our era has lost all tradition - where can it be bought?
If I may, I ask for the leftovers from still-authentic offerings...
Newly arrived I open my suitcase - inside, all my problems have come along
Strange but true
A western song accompanied by this mixture...
Gather together until forced apart - a momentary fusion
Sweet or sour, it's up to the listener)

Commissioning Info

Aneh Tapi Nyata was commissioned by Gamelan Sekar Jaya with the support of the Rockefeller Multi-Arts Program.  It was premiered at the Marin Community Center in May 1992 and at the Bali International Arts Festival in July.

Aneh Tapi Nyata was composed for Gamelan Sekar Jaya, on the occasion of their second tour to Bali in 1992.  I had recently left the group to move east, and only on leaving did I realize what an extraordinary thing it was to have Americans devote themselves so passionately to another culture.  I felt it important that the group show itself to the Balinese, in all our ragtag, hybrid splendor.  Instrumentation was dictated by whoever was around and whatever they could play, at whatever skill level (the violinist, for example, had an extremely firm command of the open strings).  I compensated for tuning and genre discrepancies by highlighting them: the gamelan instruments are also taken from a variety of ensembles in a variety of intonations.