Ubud Gamelan studies May 2014

by Jeremy on July 6, 2014

Doug Meyers with Balinese and Japanese dancers

Earlier this month I spent a week studying Gamelan Music in Ubud in the mountains of Bali at Cudamani Music School. I watched rehearsals and performances of their orchestra and took lessons with a Balinese musician – Pasta – at the school. I learnt one of the songs played by the orchestra, taking time to develop some technique in muting the metal bar after it had been struck. Learning the long melodic phrase by ear became challenging given that it was such a long string of variations on two or three notes.

I also met and studied with Australian ethnomusicologist and musician Doug Myers. Doug is an intriguing character who has been collecting field recordings of music throughout the Indonesian archipelago since the 1970s. Some of the recordings document songs that have been lost through development and loss of traditional customs.

I had several lessons with Doug at his house and he showed me all the various instruments in the Gamelan orchestra, and how the parts overlap and expand upon the one melodic theme.

Whilst we were there a paramilitary officer walked onto the property carrying a massive machine gun. Doug told me not to worry about him, and that he was just there to supervise a Presidential meeting taking place on the property next door. He walked around the property for a minute or two and then surprisingly sat down at one of the gamelans and starting playing! Good to see that they don’t take their jobs too seriously…


Pumping waves at Keramas

A trip to Bali wouldn’t be complete without a bit of surfing. The first day I ventured to the east coast to a break that has been rapidly growing in reputation as a world class high performance break – Keramas. It was double overhead and a challenge for my first surf in over a month.







The view from my villa in Uluwatu

The last few days of the trip I visited the Bukit peninsula to finish writing some music for my Fatal Shore project for my PhD. I stayed in a cabin overlooking the ocean for $40 a night and literally this was the view from my window of Uluwatu, one of Bali’s most famous surf breaks.






The following two videos are of the famous Kecak dance, a dance with its roots in a trance inducing exorcism dance.

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