Pondok

2000, 21' for solo piano

“Pondok” is an Indonesian term for “guesthouse” or “hut,” such as the tiny bamboo structure I lived in during my first stay in Bali in 1981.  I went there straight out of college, prepared to enhance my musical education but completely unprepared for the cultural and sensory overload that living in a foreign country brings.  I would return to my “pondok” to make sense of it all and to transcribe the music I’d learned, study the language, smoke “kreteks” on the porch, listen to shortwave radio and pirated cassettes, and write letters.  Twenty years later, this piece imagines a different level of repose.  Each movement is based on a particular aspect of a particular piece of Balinese music; these musical kernels are then taken in their own directions, which may or may not remind the listener of their source.  The aspects or kernels I use in this piece are, first, an attitude toward phrasing (“Fragrant Forest,” from the first scene of a shadow play), followed by a particular rhythm (“Tree Trunk,” from the “beleganjur” marching music), an acoustical byproduct (“Ginoman,” from the introductions to ancient “lelambatan” style), and, finally, the relationship between the postures of the players and the music they produce (“Gebyog,” from the female rice pounding music of west Bali).  Pondok was written for Sarah Cahil l, to whom it is dedicated.

Recording

Score