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Gamelan Bike Bike: From bicycles to gamelan

Jeremy Allan

The Jakarta Post

Vancouver  /  Tue, May 14, 2019  /  05:02 pm
Gamelan Bike Bike: From bicycles to gamelan

Cross-cultural innovation: Appealing melodies and rhythms are produced under the masterful hands of talented musicians. (Courtesy of Yohei Shimomae /-)

In 1962, a young Frank Zappa appearing on Steve Allen’s late-night talk show demonstrated to his bemused host how to play music by hammering on the tubes and scraping the spokes of an old bicycle. The resulting “music” was a horrendous cacophony counterpointed by Zappa’s straight-faced Dadaist commentary – an excellent piece of performance art. A half-century later, the bicycle is once again taking center stage in a performance – only this time producing appealing melodies and sophisticated rhythms under the masterful hands of talented musicians. In this version of Zappa’s “musical” bicycle, steel tubes were scavenged from old bicycle frames, cut to length, and mounted on a wooden frame to fashion a gender, a metallophone that is the primary instrument of an Indonesian gamelan orchestra. With the addition of a large bronze...