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Program note: Diana Blom's "Gong agong"

  • note by the composer

The associations and rich sounds of a Malay gong, Korean gong, small Japanese gong, Japanese bells (like large sleigh bells), small Chinese gong, a necklace of very small bells worn in the Chinese dragon dance, tubular bells, tamtam and piano (inside and out), form the basis for Gong Agong.  Many of the instruments were collected in Hong Kong and Malaysia.

The Gong Agong is the large gong in the Malaysian Terengganu Joget Gamelan.  It literally means ‘king gong’ and the instrument plays an important structural role in gamelan music, marking off the largest sections.  This role is retained in Gong Agong.  Rhythmically and texturally, the piano reflects and imitates some of the CD sounds before embarking on an interlocking section which draws on fragments of a Malay Terengganu gamelan piece ‘lagu’ Perang.

The percussive and digitised sounds were created from recordings of improvised performances by the composers which were then edited in Protools, convolved and mutated with piano impulses in SoundHack then imported back into Protools for compositing. This process was repeated until a structure was created which was then used as impetus for the piano composition. From then on in, the process became very collaborative with the two composers editing their components as required. Gong Agong was one of three finalists in the Musica Nova International Electroacoustic Music Competition 2006 (Category B: Compositions for acoustic instrument/voice/ ensemble and electroacoustic media).

Sounds for the soundbed (CD) were originally recorded in the Main Studio, Music Area University of Western Sydney, Australia.

The acoustic piano score is written by Diana Blom and the CD soundbed designed by Emma Stacker.


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