Composition Seminar – Dr Neil Sorrell

The lure of pastiche and illusions of authenticity in composing for gamelan

Neil Sorrell has been involved in composing for the Javanese gamelan since 1980 and has encouraged the practice here at York.  The advantages are not only that the repertoire can be expanded and balanced against the traditional gamelan canon but also that some who have never composed before are willing to exploit this level playing field to give it a try. At times it can be controversial: what right do we have to meddle in a partially-understood foreign culture?; will the result be at best a pale pastiche of the ‘real thing’?; how does one negotiate the tuning problems from one gamelan to another and when including western instruments and voices? Sorrell will discuss these issues with illustrations from some of his pieces and those by other composers.