New American Gamelan Instruments by Daniel Schmidt


Daniel Schmidt has built the instruments displayed in this installation over the last five years with the help of students and alumni from Mills College. The bonang (the aluminum discs that look like flying saucers) and the slenthem (the lower range metallophone with a soft attack and long sustain) have been built in the last 2 years.

This gamelan is an aluminum set using the septimal just tuning for slendro used by Lou Harrison. The new set is unnamed, as it is not yet complete. If you have any suggestions, please let us know!

About the Artist

Daniel Schmidt Likes to take the scenic route. He spent the latter half of the 20th century dividing his efforts between electronic music, mixed media work, theater based activities, instrument design and building, singing, teaching, and performing and writing for traditional and American Gamelan. He has worked with Allan Kaprow, studied with K.R.T. Wasitodiningrat, helped build the electronic music studios at Cal Arts, and has built numerous aluminum gamelans. He has been the director of the Berkeley Gamelan, the Eugene Chamber Theater, and currently directs the gamelan ensembles at Mills College and the Universal Unitarian Church of Berkeley.

Although Schmidt’s pieces utilize a wide variety of different media (electronic tape based work, traditional acoustic instrumental work, mixed media work, etc.), there is always some undercurrent of experimentation; rhythmic oddities, the creation of specialized instruments, novel approaches to performance and performer interaction, and many other approaches.

Daniel Schmidt’s work as an instrument builder his highlighted by a long-time collaboration with the Paul Dresher Ensemble, and notable commissions from the Boston and San Francisco Symphonies, the Exploratorium, and North Texas State and Sonoma State Universities. Schmidt received his BA in music from Westminster Choir College, Princeton, NJ and his MFA in composition and Javanese Music from California Institute of the Arts.

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