KEYNOTE ÉTUDIANT – Balinese Gamelan and Hindu Religious Concepts in Compositions for Gamelan and Electronics

Friday, Feb 24, 2023

9:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

One of Balinese gamelan performance’s most pervasive functions is supporting ritual activities during Balinese Hindu ceremonies. While musicians who learn gamelan in North American universities or community ensembles rarely experience this religious aspect, musicians who grow up in Bali often learn gamelan alongside the Hinduism embedded in communal activities. In these settings, gamelan performance is used as a ritual sacrifice to deities present during the ceremony. Hindu principles may continue to influence these latter composers’ experimental or academic composition practices. 

This presentation discusses two of my pieces for gamelan and electronics – Bajra (2019) and Les Chemins mènent à Gong (2021) – to illustrate how Balinese Hinduism influences my artistic approach despite the fact that these compositions do not function as ritual offerings in Hindu ceremonies. I hope this discussion will help contextualize the increasing amount of creative work that combines gamelan traditions and electronic techniques and provide insights beyond the technical approaches that composers have developed.

I Putu Arya Deva Suryanegara

Musician, gamelan, and electronic composer from Kerobokan village, I Putu Arya Deva Suryanegara has built on an expert foundation in traditional gamelan to explore and experiment with new departures. This includes producing a variety of new works and founding the Balinese gamelan and dance collective Naradha Gita (Nagi), which regularly collaborates with local and international composers. He graduated in 2018 from the Indonesian Institute of the Arts Denpasar, Bali (ISI Denpasar) with an original work entitled O. This mixed-media piece incorporating micro-sensors on the gamelan, among other things, had the musicians interact with a digital device. He is the guest artistic director for Gamelan Giri Kedaton (2019-present), and assistant director at Insitu Recordings: a project to document, record and disseminate the music being made on the island of Bali today. Within this framework, he has been practicing as a sound technician, doing many sound recordings and recording several of his works. Arya has been developing this interest and talent for mixed/electroacoustic music and digital technologies for a little over four years, among other things through his studies in music composition and sound creation at the Université de Montréal. This artistic background makes Arya one of the few emerging composers to master both Balinese gamelan and digital technologies.