Published June 1, 2011 | Version v1
Conference paper Open

Gamelan Elektrika: An Electronic Balinese Gamelan


This paper describes the motivation and construction ofGamelan Elektrika, a new electronic gamelan modeled aftera Balinese Gong Kebyar. The first of its kind, Elektrika consists of seven instruments acting as MIDI controllers accompanied by traditional percussion and played by 11 or moreperformers following Balinese performance practice. Threemain percussive instrument designs were executed using acombination of force sensitive resistors, piezos, and capacitive sensing. While the instrument interfaces are designedto play interchangeably with the original, the sound andtravel possiblilities they enable are tremendous. MIDI enables a massive new sound palette with new scales beyondthe quirky traditional tuning and non-traditional sounds.It also allows simplified transcription for an aurally taughttradition. Significantly, it reduces the transportation challenges of a previously large and heavy ensemble, creatingopportunities for wider audiences to experience Gong Kebyar's enchanting sound. True to the spirit of oneness inBalinese music, as one of the first large all-MIDI ensembles,Elek Trika challenges performers to trust silent instrumentsand develop an understanding of highly intricate and interlocking music not through the sound of the individual, butthrough the sound of the whole.



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