Montebello Gamelan

August 5, 2007 at 10:32 am (Italy, music, my links)

When the decision to move to Torino was made, it seemed rather random to have chosen a city in the north that doesn’t normally attract a vast amount of tourists. I was informed, however, that nearby there was a man who had his own gamelan. After contact via email, we were invited to visit the mountains to the north of Torino, for a ‘merenda sinoira’. The area is 5 mins away from Castellamonte and is found by driving up a number of small windy roads and passages. Giovanni kindly led the way (or I don’t think we would have ever found it!) up the windy roads, past fields of corn and up some dirt tracks, until we came to a gorgeous villa in the mountains. The well decorated house (white walls with dark green doors) stands on acres of land that is made up of fields, wild areas, trees and the most impressive of gamelan pendopo I have ever seen. Having not been to Java, my knowledge of gamelan houses is fairly limited but this has to be one of the most impressive. The pendopo (in the picture above) on which the gamelan is set out, is raised on wooden struts and the top part (when it is not being played) is surrounded by a protective canvas. When we first arrived I thought it was a shame that we could not see the gamelan and hoped that we might get a glimpse later. Sure enough, Giovanni suggested that we have a look and maybe listen to some music and play along. (I found this extremely difficult as it is a different type of gamelan to the one I used to play. The Montebello Gamelan is Javanese and my gamelan knowledge is purely Sundanese.) We only had a little tinkle and did not play any instruments properly (although I did attempt the bonang solo of a Sundanese piece on the gambang) but even so it has the most amazing sound. The gamelan house is surrounded entirely by nature and open fields so the music can drift out, instead of being trapped in by walls and sometimes sounding too loud and encroaching. To sit at the foot of the pendopo whilst gamelan music was pouring out of the PA system (that is constantly set up on the platform) was one of the most relaxing things I have ever done. The views were gorgeous and the evening a general success.

We were treated to the Italian equivalent of ‘high-tea’ which consisted of a very tasty African dip, foccacia, salami sticks (that reminded me of pepperami), an Italian rice dish and we also tried some Javanese drinks. All were delicious.

My only regret is that I did not take my camera with me, so I have no photos to show you. (The photo above is taken from the website http://www.gamelan.it). It truly is an amazing place and it is a shame that the gamelan is rarely in use. If anyone out there knows how to play Javanese gamelan and fancies a holiday to Torino then please let me know, as I would love to hear the live gamelan music drift over the picturesque Italian landscape, as I’m sure so many would if they only knew what potential it held.

Click here to listen to some Javanese gamelan. Once on the site, choose a CD from the list on the right and then ‘from the tracks’ at the top left. Then pick which track you want to listen to – easy!

(All the websites linked to and photos provided in this post are owned by Giovanni – thank you!)

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1 Comment

  1. Komang Merthayasa said,

    Hello,

    Nice blog… đŸ™‚

    I’m writing what people write about Gamelan for my blog.. since my field is acoustics and i had an interest to design and develop Concert Hall dedicated to Gamelan musics (Gamelan Bali, Gamelan Jawa, Gamelan Sunda etc). I’ll copy-paste your thread along with your blog…
    My blog is : http://merthayasa.wordpress.com/ mostly i wrote in Indonesia..;-)

    I appreciate very much for your approval..

    Keep in touch,

    Komang

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