Ladrang for Kate Ellis

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At one point in his book A Guide to the Gamelan, Neil Sorrell recalls certain Javanese phrases and aphorisms that he feels capture something of the elusive aesthetic locus of Javanese gamelan. One of them, regarding the only bowed string instrument in a gamelan, the two-string rebab, always strikes me as particularly beautiful: “When the rebab is playing, it must be as if there is no rebab, only a memory.” It is is in the spirit of this sentiment that I have composed this piece. In its simple single notes and dyads, delicately “brushed” in and out of existence (as John Cage might have said), the music is like a slow-motion echo of some very distant gamelan…A ladrang is a type of piece in the Javanese gamelan repertoire. It is characterised by a particular colotomic structure which repeats every 32 beats. Each cycle is refered to as a “gong”, since its final beat is emphasied by a large gong stroke. As in its sister-piece, ladrang for scott mclaughlin, this piece features three full cycles of the structure, but the musical material it holds is only heard complete in the second cycle – the first and last cycles only present parts of the story. The object is gradually revealed, but no sooner have we perceived it fully-formed than it dissolves into the ether.
Instrumentation: cello, vibraphone
Duration: circa 6 minutes
Date of composition: 2010
Commissioned by:
First Performance: Kate Ellis, cello; Roberto Oliveira, vibraphone, Kaleidoscope Night, May 2011, Odessa Club, Dublin 2
Score: Please email to obtain the latest score.