The Miracle of Bali: Music from the Village of Pliatan (1969)
April 9, 2014 6:01 PM   Subscribe

Oh God.

Clark at the old Espresso Bar in Pasadena, California had dozens of Balinese cassettes that he'd brought back home with him after President Carter amnestied draft dodgers. He used to play them all day every day during his shift.

He used to smoke those cheap beedi cigarettes, too, and all three things -- lazy eBar afternoons, Balinese music, beedi smoke -- are forever bound for me.

Some folks used to complain (actually: lots did). Plenty more used to complain about the cassette of the nighttime mockingbird outside my bedroom window that I liked to play during my shifts.
posted by notyou at 6:42 PM on April 9, 2014 [7 favorites]

Great find. Thanks Len.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:12 PM on April 9, 2014

I can't get enough of this stuff.

(Also, I would love to hear that mockingbird tape if it still exists, notyou.)
posted by mykescipark at 8:08 PM on April 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am going to Bali in four days and now I am even more excited than before! Thanks for this great video.
posted by mdonley at 10:17 PM on April 9, 2014

Bird. Yeah-ah!
posted by telstar at 1:47 AM on April 10, 2014

The joys of gamelan were re-awakened in the west by this album, recorded in 1966, released by Nonesuch. (Wouldn't be surprised if its reception inspired the show.)

The album was inducted into the US National Recording Registry in 2007. Nonesuch used it to launch its outstanding "Explorer Series" in August 1967. The series owed its existence in part to the sensibilities of Theresa Sterne.

Interestingly, gamelan was introduced to western listeners at the 1889 Paris World's Fair. In those early days, many record companies had representatives running around the world trying to find exotic sounds.
posted by Twang at 7:32 AM on April 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

This video is fantastic, I like how well the camera shows what each individual musician is doing. It's really hard to follow everyone at a live concert, particularly from a distance.

This video is part 3 of the BBC documentary series The Miracle of Bali. Part 1: The Midday Sun is an introduction to the country, Part 2: Night is about temple rituals.

I visited Bali in December and was enthralled by the music and dance. It's a really interesting rich tradition with a long history. And quite sophisticated composition. I particularly like how it's a living form, there's a lot of innovation in the music today. The tourist trade helps fund it but they've maintained their integrity and tradition and, even better, continue to develop it. I mean the Kecak dance at Uluwatu has been doing the same thing for 50 years taking tourist dollars (and is marvelous). But up north in Ubud is a rich living musical culture constantly inventing new and interesting music now. The musicians I spoke to were particularly motivated by the serious annual competition between gamelans.

There are several gamelans in North America. If you're in the Bay Area, Gamelan Sekar Jaya out of Berkeley is a very accomplished ensemble. Gamelan Tika in Boston out of MIT is also a great opportunity to see live gamelan.

Bonus: A House in Bali is a very interesting 1940s memoir from a Canadian ethnomusicologist who moved to Bali to study gamelan.
posted by Nelson at 8:18 AM on April 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Plenty more used to complain about the cassette of the nighttime mockingbird outside my bedroom window that I liked to play during my shifts.

I'll bet a tape of the parrots would have had people begging for you to bring back the mockingbird.
posted by malocchio at 9:58 AM on April 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also...I adore gamelan music, so thanks to everyone for the links!
posted by malocchio at 10:00 AM on April 10, 2014

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