Blu Boxis a collaborative
concert work by composers Jody Kruskal,John Mortonand theGamelan Son of
Lionensemble. Conceived as an
experiment in blues improvisation for modified and processed music
box, A/E Anglo concertina, violin, alto recorder and gamelan
orchestra of pitched percussion, this recording is from a live
premier performance on May 3rd 2009 at the Tarrytown Library,
The A/E Anglo concertina (Jody Kruskal) and the gamelan have only a
few notes in common, which makes it a tightrope walk to play as
there are very few “in-tune” notes on the instrument. The violin
(Barbara Benary) and recorder (Laura Liben) are better equipped to
play the gamelan pitches which mostly fall between the cracks of
Western equal temperament.
Blu Box is based on the sound world of an actual
music box mechanism that was modified by sound artist John Morton.
He takes standard music boxes and retunes them, alters the pin
barrels by removing pins or reversing the direction of travel. By
use of a contact mic he processes the live sound through his laptop
in real-time and is a fully performing member of the ensemble. The
music box plays throughout and it is plain to hear the repeated
crunchy clicking as John winds it up.
The lower gamelan instruments play a slow ostinato while the upper
instruments play non-metric polyrhythms in relation to the
eccentric repeated pattern of the music box. The concertina, violin
and finally the recorder perform an arrangement of improvised blues
related motifs in this unusual orchestral arrangement for Gamelan,
Music Box and Western instruments.