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Tabuh Pacific was composed as a lively dialogue between two diverse instrumental ensembles, the symphony orchstra and the Balinese gamelan. Like the orchestra, the gamelan is a large ensemble of multiple timbres, primarily percussion.
The pitched elements of the gamelan gong kebyar are tuned to a five-note scale covering several octaves, and each member of the ensemble plays a limited number of single pitches. Consequently, the music of one individual in the group is meaningless until it weaves and blends with the other players to create a multitude of intricate, delicate patterns. These patters (kotekan) shift and interlock in subtle, graceful combinations which are occasionally articulated by the booming resonance of the largest gongs, and the drums which signal time and sectional changes.
Tabuh Pacific is sort of concerto for two orchestras which take turns in displaying the types of sounds with which they are traditionally associated - the gamelan, bright and energetic or smooth and flowing; the orchestra, heavy and romantic or transparent and static. The groups alternate for a while and then come together in a crazed romp at the end of the piece.
Written for Victoria University Orchestra
Performed by Gamelan Padhang Moncar and Victoria University Orchestra conducted by Peter Walls
Performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with the University of Canterbury Gamelan played by Gareth Farr and Elaine Dobson, conducted by Kenneth Young at Symphony House in Wellington in August 1997