May 9, 2013

the path has been long and sweet...

....and filled with many beautiful, giving & supportive people and sometimes a morning view just like this one. I am so lucky!
Have I ever told you the story?
Six years ago I found myself in the airport in Bali, flicking through a book on Gamelan wondering how on earth I had gotten that far in life without being curious about the music that pervaded my childhood. At that point this little seed of an idea that I would write something inspired by gamelan & jazz started to grow, and when I got back to NY I started jotting down ideas and thoughts. Since then, I have released two albums, both very different from each other, but the 'Bali album' never went away. It just went from something vague to being very focused and something I had to do.

It got bigger, too. At first I thought I would just use the sounds and scales of gamelan in a jazz setting to tell my story and try to capture what Bali meant to me. But, then I started imagining how amazing it would be if I actually wrote for gamelan! Of course, it was so completely laughable that I would do that. I didn't know how to write for gamelan, or even really understand how it worked. So, I found Dharma Swara, a Balinese gamelan here in NY and joined the group so I could hopefully learn more.

Things, as they do, got out of control. After being in DS a few years, I applied for a grant to write an album that fused gamelan and jazz with the desire to explore what community, culture and music means as an Australian-woman-who-grew-up-in-Bali-but-now-lives-in-NY-writing-jazz-songs - and I got it. (Thank you Australian Arts Council!!). But, it didn't stop there. I was petrified at the thought of sharing my work with a group of 20+ people, - What if it wasn't good enough? What if people thought I was being disrespectful of a culture that wasn't my own? What if jazz & gamelan didn't work together? What if my piece was too easy/hard/slow/fast/boring/clunky/western/modal/not jazz enough....

Exhausting huh? (And something I will definitely talk about in a different post!). 

So, there was a point where I really didn't want to share it with anyone, and I wondered if I would get this project done.

But, I had to lay all my fears on the table and put it out there we have been learning my piece. I have been terrible at leading & helping people learn it! I haven't had to really read music in a long time. That understanding never goes away, but to write it was easier than to teach it. But, everyone has been so patient with me, and helped me to teach it and each other to learn it that that in itself has been a great learning curve. To let go, and let other people help. I am one of those people who never wants to impose on anyone, or bother them with my projects. But, the feeling of being a part of something of this scope, as in the 'we're all in this together' -the gotong-royong, is awesome. This project has given me far more than I could have imagined.

THANK YOU to everyone involved in this project. You know who you are - love ya's!!

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