Recording in Bali

Brett Merrill Start Date: Nov 16, 2016 - End Date: Jan 14, 2017
  • Bali, Indonesia

My Travel Story

by: Brett Merrill Start Date: Nov 16, 2016 - End Date: Jan 14, 2017
Balinese Music
When most people think about Bali they think of the gorgeous beaches, friendly people, Yoga, and nights out on the town. For me though, Bali is all about the music. Did you know that the Balinese Gamelan is one of the most complex music system in the world? Bali lives and breathes music.  

Balinese music has been explored by outsiders for centuries - but this era of electronic music and digital recording really allows for something special to occur that has never happened before. There have been dozens of electronic experiments but there has always been “something” standing in the way of a full-on revolution in music based on the Balinese system and I believe the rise of the internet and crowd funding represents the dissolution of that “something”.

Underground music is a hotbed of experimentation, it has given us everything from Jazz to Goa Trance. Today underground music is larger and more experimental than ever before - the rise of personal computing and the deregulation of international travel has allowed music from around the globe to interact and give rise to new sounds and scenes.  Now that crowdfunding has hit the internet as well, the average music producer can go anywhere and create whatever they like without the gatekeeper of a record label or an executive determining what can and can’t be done.

An Album and a Sample Pack

Where do I come into this? I’m a music producer with a vision.  I’ve heard amazing underground music based in African, European, Latin, and Indian musical traditions. When the compositions are strong they create sub-genres. Sometimes, when enough quality compositions are made, entirely new genres appear. I strongly feel that underground music based in the Balinese gamelan has the potential to be it’s own genre of music.

Project details:

For the last 2 years I’ve been roaming around Bali listening for the best performers and ensembles.I’ve booked the largest and most professional recording studio in Bali and I’m bringing these ensembles there for three days of recording sessions where we will record traditional music, their own music, create some new compositions, as well as sampling the ensemble for both a Kontakt library and an Ableton pack. The fundraised money will cover all studio cost and paying the musicians. 

Music producers that want to use actual instruments and performances in their music must either record it themselves or use some kind of sample library - one of the most popular and powerful samplers is Kontakt and a Kontakt library allows a person to “play” whatever instrument or ensemble has been recorded from their computer. An Ableton pack is the same thing, but is aimed at people who produce music in Ableton Live.  So more than just making recordings for my own album I want to affect the entire music world by providing playable sampled content so that other other music producers can create fantastic music based in the Balinese systems I record.

Transmuting Balinese Gamelan

What I want to do goes beyond micro-tuning synths and Kontakt patches to approximate the Balinese tunings. For instance, did you know that in Bali, each Banjar (district) can have it’s own separate tuning based on the preference of the people living there? There is no universal Balinese Tuning - every ensemble lives and breathes it’s own uniqueness. In a world of mass-produced homogeny the Balinese have provided a breath of fresh air. The Instruments themselves vary from one place to the next as well as the style of compositions. There are so many tiny facets of Balinese music that it can boggle the mind. What I want to do is use the actual performers, instruments, and recordings as the basis of my compositions and building from there instead of bastardizing the source to fit with a foreign system of music. In effect I want this to be the birth of a new breed of music. For psychedelic chill out music in particular an element of the sacred is always necessary to the music, and I feel that the Balinese have that special key that can really unlock listeners and bring them that special “something” they look for.
  • Bali, Indonesia