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Crystalline chimes.
July 3, 2011 3:36 AM   Subscribe

Behold, the Gameleste! Custom built per Björk's concept & specifications, playable like a celeste, but designed with the heart of a gamelan, completely programmable using a standard MIDI input, capable of playing pieces that a standard human simply couldn't perform. Featured prominently on "Crystalline", the first track available from the upcoming 'Biophilia'.
posted by markkraft (30 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite

 
this isn't a game boy at all

i am disappoint
posted by LogicalDash at 3:46 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, maybe you'd be more amused by her tesla coil synth?
posted by markkraft at 4:05 AM on July 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


(I would suggest her pendulum harp, but that would almost assuredly be too slow for you.)
posted by markkraft at 4:08 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It also appears that she has purchased this man's sharpsichord, as it appears to be the same one featured here.

(Presumably, the tune has since been changed.)
posted by markkraft at 4:20 AM on July 3, 2011


It sounds shit.
posted by the cuban at 5:08 AM on July 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Shut up, it's awesome (although the Tesla coil is even cooler).
posted by daniel_charms at 5:18 AM on July 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm having a hard time distinguishing this from a standard Celesta. Is it something about the precise internal mechanism that makes it special? Because it sounds identical.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:19 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wendy Carlos' "Poem for Bali" on her Beauty in the Beast also uses digital magic to accomplish things like a mini-concerto for gamelan and Western orchestra that would be impossible IRL due to tuning conflicts.
posted by Trurl at 5:53 AM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Is it something about the precise internal mechanism that makes it special?"

The big difference, from what I can tell, is that the steel plates are removed, and custom copper plates have been added, designed to more closely resemble the sound of gamelan.

It sounds different to me. I can't exactly imagine something like "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies" sounding the same on this, for example.
posted by markkraft at 6:02 AM on July 3, 2011


I don't understand the internal or sonic differences between the two instruments (gamelan and gameceleste) at all, but I am here to tell you that Crystalline is the first Bjork song I've loved on first listen since Vespertine, and that instrument is part of the love for me.
posted by immlass at 6:19 AM on July 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Have been listening to this song on repeat all week. Love it!
posted by hermitosis at 6:28 AM on July 3, 2011


"the steel plates are removed, and custom copper plates have been added"

Oops. Bronze. Copper + tin.
posted by markkraft at 6:37 AM on July 3, 2011


It's better than a katzenklavier!
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:11 AM on July 3, 2011


The concept excites me in every way. Love the Celesta | songs for Celesta. Love gamelan passionately. Love Björk. Cool combo!
posted by nickyskye at 7:48 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nothing should ever have a name that evokes even the merest shadow of a thought of the horrible evil that is gamalost.
posted by gurple at 10:15 AM on July 3, 2011


They made it in a week and a half??? I am humbled.
posted by LordSludge at 10:23 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Funny, I was just reading about this guy via Reddit. Apparently Bjork's job for the year has been to make me feel like shit about what I've accomplished with my life via Youtube videos.
posted by nanojath at 10:45 AM on July 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Part of me thinks this is cool and part of me resents Bjork for hoarding all the cool instruments.
posted by speicus at 11:08 AM on July 3, 2011


To summarize for those still confused, and from what I can gather: A gamelan is a group of many instruments played by many musicians at once. Bjork has commissioned this piece to emulate the sound of a gamelan, but played like a celeste, therefore eliminating the need for multiple musicians. And also because a celeste can be programmed by computer to play in such a way that is not possible by a human operator -- which is certainly also impossible to do on a traditional gamelan.
posted by erstwhile at 11:11 AM on July 3, 2011


Bjork 'explains' television.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:43 AM on July 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


This (somewhat more traditional) gamelan can also be played by computer: Gamelatron
posted by moonmilk at 12:41 PM on July 3, 2011


I find the instrument underwhelming considering that song ("Crystalline") is all about THE VOICE and the drum 'n' bass climax and not the repetitive twinkling.
posted by Houyhnhnm at 4:15 PM on July 3, 2011


I would argue that the big shift from "repetitive twinkling" to the drum 'n' bass climax makes the ending utterly awesome in a way that it wouldn't otherwise be, myself.

Bjork knows the worth of tiny sounds.
posted by markkraft at 4:28 PM on July 3, 2011


More videos are out there of the sharpsichord, for your pleasure and amusement:

"The Musical Box"
"Ceasar"
"She's Leaving Home"
"The Long and Winding Road'

It takes a day to program a minute of music on the sharpsichord, as the pins need to be meticulously rearranged.
posted by markkraft at 9:31 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, hypothetically, if you were looking for some gamelan music to play for your six-month old son so he could be exposed to as many musical traditions as possible while his brain is still all plastic-like, where would be the best place to look?
posted by Jpfed at 9:54 PM on July 3, 2011


markkraft: Bjork knows the worth of tiny sounds.

I think my favourite tiny sounds come from Aurora (off Vespertine,) where the hushed crunching noises that sound like equal parts snow and noise are actually the work of someone walking in rock salt (YT link).
posted by heeeraldo at 11:50 PM on July 3, 2011


"if you were looking for some gamelan music to play for your six-month old son so he could be exposed to as many musical traditions as possible while his brain is still all plastic-like, where would be the best place to look?"

Bali!

Failing that, though... I like this one, as far as traditional pieces go. I think you'd probably do best by buying individual mp3s of pieces you like, rather than whole albums, in most circumstances.

A lot of my favorite gamelan is more contemporary, though. I really like Jalan Jalan's work, whcih uses traditional instruments, and is more accessable. Great calming latenight chill-out music. You might want to check out Stewart Copeland's Gamelan D'Drum project. Best bet would be doing a bit of Googling and poking around, as there are a lot of musicians out there who have incorporated it into their work, one way or another.
posted by markkraft at 12:12 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


"if you were looking for some gamelan music to play for your six-month old son so he could be exposed to as many musical traditions as possible while his brain is still all plastic-like, where would be the best place to look?"

I prefer the softer sound of Javanese gamelan to the "skeletons copulating on a tin roof" relentlessness of Balinese, though the music varies widely for both.

Carl Orff liked the gamelan and incorporated it into his music for schools. If you, in your schooldays, were sat down in front of a xylophone or metallophone and made to plunk out tunes, blame Orff and the gamelan.

Gamelan itself is easy to play, and your local music school may have one. Ask around!

/not bitter about skeezy ethnomusicologist gamelan-playing college boyfriend at all, really
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:16 AM on July 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was quite disappointed. Gamelan are tuned to indonesian scales and fine tuned to maximise clashing dissonances. There is an american gamelan scene using just intonation. This..uses copper instead of steel. Fine. Bjork should just learn to manage my expectations.
posted by Not Supplied at 9:03 AM on July 4, 2011


‘Thunderbolt, Lightning, Arpeggio’ : Bjork’s magical ‘Biophilia’ show reviewed
posted by homunculus at 3:17 PM on July 5, 2011


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