Gamelan Descending a Staircase

by Arturas Bumšteinas

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The instrumental sound material for Gamelan Descending a Staircase was recorded at the Ethnologisches Museum Dahlem in the summer of 2013, during a research visit there. A large collection of Indonesian Gamelan orchestra instruments was recorded, and later it was composed into a surround-sound composition, premiered in Jauna Muzika festival at the Vilnius Contemporary Art Center, in April 2015. The live version of this piece also involved three improvising trumpetists providing live solo/accompaniment textures for the pre-recorded music.

Marcel Duchamp’s 1912 painting Nude Descending the Staircase. No.2 was an inspiration lurking not only behind the title of this composition but also regarding the deconstructed micro-forms and the study of sound structures, progressing as if in slowmotion, and without a clear point of destination… Descending into the unknown territories… The title came in a vision, as a possible sonic event of a instruments of a gamelan orchestra falling down the stairs. A beautiful, unrealistic image. A dream.

Sad Young Man on a Train is composed from sounds recorded entirely on one prepared harpsichord. Preparations as wood, glass, stones, metal objects, kitchenware, toys and electric devices such as e-bows and cappucino mixers were used. All these objects were dangerously applied to the strings of harpsichord and the recording attempted not to reveal their presence, only amplifying the sounds of the harpsichord’s strings and body.

The whole recording session took place after recording another Bumšteinas’s composition Epiloghi. Six Ways of Saying Zangtumbtumb, which was produced by Deutschland Radio Kultur’s Klangkunst and released by Unsounds label in The Neatherlands in 2014.

The composition’s title is borrowed from the 1911-1912 painting of the same name by Marcel Duchamp. The auto-erotic associations provoked by the painting should not be dismissed as an influence for this musical composition.


released November 10, 2015

Gamelan Descending a Staircase:
Percussion instruments of the traditional Gamelan orchestra performed by Arturas Bumšteinas & Raminta Atnimar. Instruments recorded in 2013 at the archives of the Ethnologisches Museum Dahlem, Berlin.
Composition commissioned in 2015 by the Lithuanian Composers’ Union.
Mastered by Miguel Carvalhais.
Special Thanks to Albrecht Wiedmann, Lars-Christian Koch, Marcus Gammel, Werner Durand.

Sad Young Man on a Train:
Performed by Arturas Bumšteinas & Neele Hülcker in Studio P4 Nalepastrasse, Berlin, 2013/01. Recording engineer Andreas Stoffels. Harpsichords courtesy of Christine Kessler.
Mixed by Arturas Bumšteinas in Turku (Finland), 2015.
Mastered by Miguel Carvalhais.

Special thanks to Marcus Gammel (Deutschland Radio Kultur).


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