An afternoon of Balinese Gamelan in a rare split performance with New York’s Gamelan Dharma Swara and Richmond’s Gamelan Raga Kusuma, in celebration of the release of Joel Mellin’s composition for gamelan, Synesthesia.
"One sense informs another —automatically and involuntarily. Letters have color. A is orange and B is mauve. What's beyond Z? Numbers have distance. 2 is farther than 1 and 3 farther still. Tuesday is uncertain and Wednesday hopeful. One sense imbues another. Instruments together pass somber kinetic energy. A rest is a light breath with weight — heavy and pregnant. The gamelan is purple lava slowly reaching its boiling point. Synesthesia is not an affliction. It is a blessing.” - Joel Mellin
Synesthesia is a contemporary work for Balinese gamelan semara dana by composer Joel Mellin. Traditional Balinese compositional paradigms and performance techniques meld with Western melodic structure, harmonic choices, and directed improvisation.
"I've always been fascinated with the idea of synesthesia," Mellin says, "One sense involuntarily sparking an experience in another. As a composer, I wonder what people see when they hear my music. What color is in it? What movement do they see? Is it what I see? The experience of hearing gamelan live can be fairly altering - like nothing you've ever experienced. I highly recommend it."
The recording, released as a limited edition 12" vinyl recording (180g) and in downloadable formats also features "Dapple Grey," an improvised piece for cello, violin, and bass clarinet by Dharma Swara member Mara Mayer's Trio, Mayer / Kuehne / Molinaro. "The inspiration for this piece," Mayer states, "is the subject of visual perception; specifically how context changes one's perception of an unchanging object. The object is represented by the low drone, and the shifting textures color how we interpret this one sound."
And it's not just the music itself that is the subject of perception: Mellin is printing each unique cover by hand in a process he designed to demonstrate cymatics, the visual study of sound.
Come see/hear/feel my Synesthesia and a Balinese Shadow Puppet play at this year's Princeton Festival.
One sense informs another — automatically and involuntarily. Letters have color. A is orange and B is mauve. What's beyond Z? Numbers have distance. 2 is farther than 1 and 3 farther still. Tuesday is uncertain and Wednesday hopeful. One sense imbues another. Different instruments dance together, fluidly passing slightly somber kinetic energy. A rest is a light breath but still has weight — it's heavy and pregnant. The gamelan is scalding, purple, lava — slowly reaching its boiling point. Synesthesia is not an affliction — it is a blessing.