90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The Roots of World Music

Balinese gamelan musicians in Tabanan, Bali, 1977. (Photo: Michael Tenzer)

Post your comments below

Way before iTunes and iPods and mixing boards and studios, humans all over the world were making amazing music. Traditional music that crystallized and symbolized a way of looking at life.

Today, we’ll hear from two great scholars of music from way beyond the Top 40. From Bali. From central Africa.

We sing about love and loss and gangstas. They tell of elephant hunts, cosmic visions – and maybe gangstas, too.

This Hour, On Point: from Bali to Africa to the heart of traditional music.

Guests:

Simha Arom, ethnomusicologist and director emeritus of research at France’s National Center for Scientific Research. He’s best known for his prize-winning series of musical recordings of the Aka pygmies and other Central African groups from the 1960’s through the 1980’s. His influential book is “African Polyphony and Polyrhythm: Musical Structure and Methodology.”

Michael Tenzer, ethnomusicologist and music professor at the University of British Columbia. He has focused on the musical traditions of Bali, and is author of “Gamelan Gong Kebyar: The Art of Twentieth-Century Balinese Music.” He co-founded the San Francisco-based Balinese music ensemble Gamelan Sekar Jaya, which was awarded the Dharma Kusuma Award for Cultural Service by the Balinese government.

Here are some examples of field recordings by Arom and Tenzer:

“Gamelan Gambuh,” an ensemble of bamboo bass flutes, drums and gongs originating in the 15th century or earlier.  Recorded by Michael Tenzer.

http://audio.wbur.org/storage/2010/02/onpoint_0219_ethno3.mp3

“Hindehu” by the Benzele Pygmies, in which a singer is alternating with a whistle.  Recorded by Simha Arom.

http://audio.wbur.org/storage/2010/02/onpoint_0219_ethno1.mp3

“Ndraje Balendro” by the Banda-Linda in Central Africa (see photo below), an initiation song with 18 wooden trumpets and a pair of bells.  Recorded by Simha Arom.

http://audio.wbur.org/storage/2010/02/onpoint_0219_ethno2.mp3

Wooden trumpets of the Banda-Linda people, 1970s. (Photo: Simha Arom)

Here’s Michael Tenzer, Simha Arom, and Tom Ashbrook in our studio today:

(Photo: Gabrielle Levy)

Several listeners asked where you could get the recordings. Michael Tenzer says:

“Some of the recordings are expensive or specialized or rare. Interested listeners might want to check university libraries or poke around on the web for used sellers.” He pointed listeners to the following Amazon listings:

Central African recordings by Simha Arom:

Anthology of the Music of the Aka Pygmies
Central African Republic: Aka Pygmy Music

Central Africa: Music of the Gbaya, Songs for Reflection
Aka Pygmies: Hunting Love & Mockery Songs

Balinese recordings and compositions:

by Michael Tenzer
Bali: Gamelan Semar Pegulingan: Gamelan of the Love God

Bali South
and Vital Records

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Dec 22, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. The Russian economy will rebound and the ruble will stabilize, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. (AP)

A weak ruble and a turbulent economy. We look at Putin’s Russia and what its economic free fall means.

Dec 22, 2014
A sample of some of the costumes on display at the fall 2014 "Dance & Fashion" exhibition at New York City's Museum at FIT. (AP)

Couture fashion exhibits are drawing record crowds at museums. We’ll look at the beauty and the art behind the glitz.

RECENT
SHOWS
Dec 19, 2014
Soledad, and from left, Nina Pastori, and Lila Downs perform on stage at the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Tribute honoring Joan Manuel Serrat at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP)

From crossover hits to hip-hop to soul, we look at a big year in the wide world of Latin music.

 
Dec 19, 2014
Alan Gross, waves as he and his wife Judy leave following his statement at his lawyer's office in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released from Cuba after 5 years in a Cuban prison. (AP)

Cuba reset. Russia’s rubble troubles. School massacre in Pakistan. Jeb explores 2016. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: December 19, 2014
Friday, Dec 19, 2014

Rage, shortlinks and things you people seem to be into, we guess. Also, Putin.

More »
Comment
 
Cosby Accuser Beverly Johnson: ‘He's A Black Man. I Had To Separate The Trayvon Martins, The Michael Browns From What Happened To Me’
Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

Beverly Johnson accused comedian Bill Cosby of drugging her in a high-profile Vanity Fair column. She tells us why she waited so long to share her story, and why it was even harder to share now.

More »
3 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: December 12, 2014
Friday, Dec 12, 2014

On listener engagement, the meeting of trans-Atlantic royalty and the elusive origins of the chicken. (We promise this feed hasn’t been taken over the BBC…yet)

More »
Comment