The Gamelatron at Galapagos Art Space March 2009. Photo by Gisella Sorrentino.
A laptop-controlled gamelan orchestra by Zemi17 aka A. Taylor Kuffner. See it in operation here. (Is it Gamelatron or GamelaTron? Their spellings differ…)
The GamelaTron is the fruit of a collaboration between The League of Electronic Musical Urban Robots (LEMUR) and the composer Zemi17: A. Taylor Kuffner.
Modeled after traditional Balinese and Javanese gamelan orchestras, the GamelaTron is an amalgamation of traditional instruments with a suite of percussive sound makers. MIDI sequences control 117 robotic striking mechanisms that produce intricately woven and rhythmic sound. Performances follow an arc similar to classic Indonesian gatherings, where stories from great epics, such as the Ramayana, are told and settings given in words that are continued in music.
Sounds overly-mechanical to my ears but then that’s probably inevitable given the way the instruments are being controlled. The classic Nonesuch Explorer recordings of Javanese and Balinese gamelan orchestras follow less rigid rhythmic patterns. And being recorded outdoors the Indonesian music is augmented by background atmospheres from birds and insects.