This week I had my first two assignments due. I'm usually a last minute, late night essay writer, but I've been trying to stay more on top of things and use my time better, and hopefully this will result in a higher quality of work as well. I've been keeping up with my weekly blogs and class readings pretty well, but this week I've been struggling with my mental health and feeling really burnt out. I found it harder to engage during lectures, and getting the work done feels a lot harder, but I'm still going!
Week three of Gamelan was interesting, and we built on the techniques and songs we learned in the first two weeks.
Gilak Dung (which I thought we had finished learning!) had a coda section in the same style of Kotekan as the first kotekan. The two sections used the same rhythm, but it was reversed in the sangsih. I actually didn't get to play this part much because I was moved onto the gongs to fill out the texture. Obviously this was incredibly exciting to me, but I also got to learn a whole new instrument and technique. This was much easier than the smaller instruments like the pemade or the kantilans, mainly because its a much slower part and I only had 3 notes to worry about. The technique was mostly easy and involved striking the centre of the gong in a downwards motion, however the smallest gong required me to flip the pungal over in my hand and strike it with the handle, which I found difficult.
Next we spent some time learning about the Reong, which looks a lot like the Trompong, but has more notes/gongs and can be played by up to four people at one. We played a Kotekan between four people, and we learned a few different techniques to create different sounds. The four players have to cover both the polos and sangsih, and the parts move up and down the instrument together.
Finally we played our new piece, which I still keep forgetting the name of. I couldn't remember the lagu at all until Anthony sang the start of it, but then it came right back and I found it easier to play than last week. I found the Kotekan easier to remember as the rhythm was quite distinct and has a very syncopated section near the end. I find it much harder to play this one as it moves a lot faster and has bigger jumps in it, but I think I like this one a lot and I like the way the sangsih and polos interact.
Next week is our final week of Gamelan, and I look forwards to looking back through the videos and reflections I've done on here and seeing my progress. And as much as I've enjoyed learning without being preoccupied by note taking, I'm looking forwards to having things on paper and having Peter's notes from the class.
This week we did a lot of work on movement and dance with Lorina who choreographed the dance break in amanti costanti. I’ve never been much of a dancer so this was a step outside of my comfort zone but I was excited to give it a shot and try something new.
I found the fandango easy enough to follow, in theory, but practically I found it difficult to put it all together. Each step made sense separately, but I struggled with the counting a bit, especially in the beginning as the starting point wasn’t clear at all. I found it really easy to copy her movements in the moment so I think some practice at home to practice the transitions between moves will really help me.
The Minuet was more difficult for me to grasp — I felt it was a bit rushed and we didn’t have as much time to ask questions and I missed steps. For example, I didn’t understand the second step when the foot sweeps through to the front and then you step onto it before step three — I took the sweep through and the step to be two different beats which messed me up. I think I’ll be ready to work on this again next week, now that I have a better understanding of the movements.
Minuet: Video Tutorial (from 1:51)
I searched up this video for a better understanding and its almost the same as what we did in class (less sweep though) — I’ve had a bit of a practice and feel a little more confident.
This week I've been working to complete my rationale for Share the Song and put together my Share the Song performance with Alicia. We decided to perform Sui Ja Re, an Indian lullaby her mother used to sing for her.
We transcribed it separately and brought it together today to figure out how our parts would work together. We wanted to perform it with as my integrity as possible, but we struggled to find authentic instruments -- ideally I would have performed the accompanying chords on an instrument like a guitar, but I'm not very strong on guitar so we're going to use a keyboard with a harmonium effect to recreate the sounds used in the recording. Alicia wanted to borrow a wooden flute from her aunt to play the flute solo on, however it was in the wrong key, so we tried to transfer the melody on to a recorder, which also didn't work because its a very old plastic record which we couldn't seem to get in tune, so we decided to put it onto clarinet.
We discussed concerns about having 'westernised' the song through this process, but decided we could maintain the integrity of the piece by using similar pitch bends on the clarinet that would be used in the flute part, and by singing the lyrics together in their original language.
I'm really excited to perform this song with Alicia and I think it'll be nice to share this beautiful piece with our peers.