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Featured artist: I Wayan Sinti

2004 Artist Support Program
Project: Gamelan Siwa Nada
LISTEN to
Windu Sara

(8.3 MB mp3)
I Wayan Sinti (left) at his Jack Straw Productions recording session with a member of his Gamelan Siwa Nada ensemble.

I Wayan Sinti Biography

I Wayan Sinti was born January 1, 1943 in the village of Banjar Dauh, Ubung Kaja, near Denpasar on the Island of Bali. He is the son of the late Mangku Ketut Sadra and Ni Made Rumik. He began his study of Balinese vocal and instrumental music in his village in 1957, because his parents could not afford to send him to government school. However, in 1961, he was accepted to the new high school for the performing arts, KOKAR, which had recently opened in Denpasar. He graduated from KOKAR in 1964 and was appointed a teaching position there because he graduated at the top of his class.

Pak Sinti has mastered many kinds of Balinese vocal music and nearly all forms of instrumental music with outstanding teachers such as, I Nyoman Gerana, Ida Peadanda Made Sideman, I Nyoman Kaler, and I Wayan Lotring. His dedication to the classical musical styles he learned from these teachers inspired him to revive many forms of gamelan including gamelan gambang, selonding, saron, gong luang, gambuh, semar pegulingan, legong, bebarongan, and others.

Pak Sinti has spread his love of Balinese music by teaching village ensembles throughout Bali, composing in both the classical and contemporary genres, and serving as a senior spokesman for the Balinese performing arts. Most significantly, during his four decades as an instructor at KOKAR, where he taught the next generation of Balinese musicians, his influence as a teacher, performer and composer is now almost everywhere apparent in Bali. His deep dedication to the arts has been officially recognized through awards presented to him by the mayor of Denpasar, the governor of Bali, and the president of Indonesia. He is also known worldwide for his compositions for gamelan in the classical genres.

In 1974, Pak Sinti was invited to teach at the Center for World Music in Berkley, CA were he spent 2½ months teaching various forms of Balinese music. In 1978 he returned to the U.S. for four years to study ethnomusicology and teach Balinese music at San Diego State University, where he graduated with an MA in music. In 1985 he again returned to the U.S., this time to train the American gamelan Sekar Jaya for their performance in Bali as the first foreign gamelan to perform in at the Bali arts festival. His relationship with Sekar Jaya continued in 1996 when he spent ten months in San Francisco composing music for their performance of the Ramayana in collaboration with Abinaya South Indian Dance.

In 1994, Pak Sinti created a new type of gamelan ensemble called Manikasanti, which means "jewel for peace." Manikasanti features a new tuning system that allows for the playing of various Balinese modes and musical scales, and was inspired by his long study of ritual vocal and instrumental music.

Pak Sinti recently completed a residency at the University of Washington, School of Music, as visiting artist where he taught Balinese vocal and gamelan music. During his time at the University of Washington he also created a new form of gamelan called Siwa Nada which was constructed with the help of his students. Today he resides just outside of Denpasar with his wife Cokorda Istri Nilawati, an accomplished dancer and arja (Balinese opera) singer. Together they have five children and six grandchildren, all talented dancers and musicians.

About the musical selection

Windu Sara

Windu Sara is a new piece written by I Wayan Sinti specifically for Gamelan Siwa Nada. The name of the piece has two meanings: the word Windu means "circle" and Sara means "nucleus." In this piece Windu Sara means that each cycle uses a different mode, whose nucleus consists of the tones 9, 7, 5, 3 returning to 9. The second meaning of Windu Sara is that it is a rare jewel whose color is red, black and white. This indirectly describes the tri murt: Brahma is red, Vishnu is black, and Siwa (Iswara) is white. In the middle of the piece, you will hear a theme from Dvorak's "New World" Symphony.

Gamelan Siwa Nada

After creating Gamelan Manikasanti in September 1994 Pak Sinti challenged himself to create a new ensemble called gamelan Siwa Nada. Inspiration for Siwa Nada came from the Balinese vocal music wirama, which is similar to the Vedas of India. Pak Sinti's goal was to create a gamelan with a scale capable of reproducing the tones used in wirama. Gamelan Siwa Nada has a nine-tone tuning system that allows it to produce this scale as well as several others including pelog and slendro. With this tuning system, as well as the particular instrumentation of the gamelan, Siwa Nada can also perform music from the repertoires of gamelan gambang, gambuh, semar pegulingan, pelogongan, bebarongon, angklung, gong gede, kebyar, and others. This is the only gamelan of its type in the world and Pak Sinti has recently completed a composition, windu sara, which utilizes all nine tones of the tuning system and is only capable of being played on Siwa Nada. Siwa Nada was built in Seattle by Pak Sinti and his students and is currently housed at the University Of Washington School Of Music where it continues to practice and perform. Pak Sinti is currently working to construct another Siwa Nada in Bali.

Biography and project description provided by Jonathan Adams at the University of Washington School of Music

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