Just On Time

Digital piano, Javanese gender, and gong

Duration: 7 min.

When I spent time in Bali in 1994 as part of a Fulbright fellowship, I was especially entranced by the gamelan orchestras with seven tones per octave. These ensembles are the most ancient and revered of Balinese gamelan, and I am especially fond of the lovely and diverse moods found in the various five-tone modes that they derive from the seven tones, as well as their characteristic five plus three syncopations and complex interlocking polyrhythms. The Javanese counterpart to the Balinese seven-tone system is called pelog, and when I was in Java, I had a pelog instrument called a génder barung built for me (the "g" in "gender" is hard) and tuned to my own just intonation version of pelog. For this work, I decided to create a kind of concert piece for Western digital piano and a "virtual gamelan" made from multitracking my own gén and a gong. So, while I drew upon the influences of my experiences in Bali, this work would never be mistaken for a traditional Balinese piece, nor is it meant to imitate one. For those with an interest in such things, my tuning of the pentatonic modes used in this piece are (in order of appearance): 1/1, 5/4, 21/16, 105/64, 7/4, 2/1; 1/1, 5/4, 21/16, 3/2, 7/4, 2/1; 1/1, 8/7, 6/5, 3/2, 8/5, 2/1.