According to the mythology of the Javanese people, the metallophonic music of Indonesia was created by the native bronze age culture almost two thousand years ago. The legendary god-king who ruled Java needed a way to summon the other gods, so he invented the gong. Later, he added other gongs, and thus began the gamelan orchestra. Today the gamelan includes dozens of unique gongs, metallophones, and xylophones, plus drums, bamboo flutes, spike fiddles, and other instruments.
The earliest image of the gamelan comes from stone carvings on the great 8th-century Buddhist temple of Borobudur in central Indonesia. The current form evolved in the royal courts of Java in the 12th century.
These vibrant percussion ensembles have long attracted and influenced Western admirers, including composers Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, John Cage, Lou Harrison, Steve Reich, Philip Glass and others, as well as pop artists like Mike Oldfield, King Crimson, The Residents, and Mouse on Mars.
In Bali and Java, the gamelan is a community affair, with public practice sessions and performances at all civic and religious ceremonies, even in the smallest villages. Everyone participates — from children to grandparents.
On this transmission of Hearts of Space, the gamelan and its ambient progeny, on a program called BOROBUDUR. Music is by JON IVERSON, LOREN NERELL, ROBERT RICH, MICHAEL STEARNS, TUU, IASOS, and ATOMIC SKUNK.