Guitars & Gamelan showcases a variety of electric and acoustic guitar work over a broad collective of instruments, offering a unique blend of Eastern and Western music that spans a wide array of soundscapes. Formed by Alves in 2000, the HMC American Gamelan is an ensemble that uses traditional Javanese instruments to play Western music. Instruments include those found in a traditional Indonesian orchestra, or gamelan, such as gongs and metallophones, which are similar to xylophones. Guitars & Gamelan has been featured on several radio programs, including WNYC’s New Sounds, WORT’s RTQE and KPFK’s Global Village.
In this recording, the HMC American Gamelan, which includes five Harvey Mudd students and three faculty members, performs with Grammy-winning classical guitarist John Schneider in Alves’ Concerto for Guitar and Gamelan. Alves also collaborated with the Balinese gamelan of UC Santa Cruz, which he paired with the explosive sound of two electric guitars.
“It seemed like a natural fit,” he says. “They’re both ‘heavy metal’!”
Intricate Indonesian rhythms and electric guitars also feature in a work recorded by HMC’s Electronic Music Ensemble—which features six Harvey Mudd students—as well as in another piece Alves composed for the Los Angeles Electric 8, an octet of electric guitars. The bell-like sonorities of the HMC American Gamelan will be on display April 24 in Harvey Mudd’s Drinkward Recital Hall as a part of MicroFest, the Southern California festival of music in nonstandard tunings.
Currently professor of music and chair of the Department of Humanities, Social Sciences, and the Arts, Alves joined the Harvey Mudd faculty in 1995. A composer, writer and video artist, he has written extensively for conventional acoustic instruments, non-Western instruments and electronic media, often integrated with abstract animation. Previous recordings featuring the HMC American gamelan include Imbal-Imbalan, Mystic Canyon, and a DVD of his video works, Celestial Dance, was published by the Kinetica Video Library. Alves is the author of the book Music of the Peoples of the World. During 1993–1994, he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellow in Indonesia, where he studied the gamelan orchestra music of Java and Bali.