The Gamelatron Project

5 Nov

I don’t often get starstruck, but I did a little bit with this beautiful contraption, the Gamelatron. I had seen videos of it at Burning Man and other big festivals, read all about it, played recordings of it on the radio. This weekend, this mechanical gamelan was the first sound to greet attendees of the Smithsonian’s Performing Indonesia festival.

Creator Aaron Taylor Kuffner explained to me that he writes original compositions specifically for the Gamelatron, rather than trying to program it to play traditional pieces — a robot simply can’t play it the way humans can.

But instead of programming some kind of crazy superhuman song, he said his focus is on the tones. When you watch a real gamelan, you’re hearing the music but also seeing costumes, dances, facial expressions, sensing egos and transitions. With a robotic gamelan, sure you trip out over it being a robot, but you’re focused more on just the sounds of each kettle, each cymbal, each gong.


One Response to “The Gamelatron Project”


  1. The Comic Con of Gamelan | Adventures in Audio - November 9, 2013

    […] The Gamelatron Project […]

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