Musicians collaborate to explore traditional Indonesian sounds

April 17, 2009
Red and Black
link to original article 

Musicians collaborate to explore traditional Indonesian sounds

By Sarah Pelham

This weekend, the classic Athens sound will mingle with music that originated half a world away.

Saturday, a collection of local musicians will present their interpretation of traditional Indonesian music.

“I work under the premise that if you open your ears, your mind will follow,” Kai Riedl, a University religion instructor, said. “I’ve seen the power of exposing yourself to new ideas and how it can re-frame your world.”

Our New Silence consists of University and local musicians reinventing traditional Indonesian music to create a new palette of abstract rock, pop, folk and experimental songs.

Riedl selected musicians to collaborate with him on the Our New Silence project after recording Indonesian music during several previous visits to the country.

“The idea of starting to record music in Indonesia was pretty choiceless,” Riedl said.

The musician in him itched to tinker with the sounds he heard, and the teacher in him compelled him to extend the experiment to all of Athens.

“I think that exposure to some of the more cultural aspects of the Islamic world can add a different perspective that’s not caught up in language,” Riedl said.

Kyle Dawkins of the Georgia Guitar Quartet blended a pop beat, an American banjo and an Indonesian plucking-instrument, called the kapaci, to create his piece for the Our New Silence concert.

“It was really fun for me to string it all together in some way,” Dawkins said in a telephone interview. “It was like being in a sandbox or something … I think it’s such a creative fusion of ideas from both cultures – American, Athens music culture and Indonesian music culture.”

At the show on Saturday, a sample of the original Indonesian music recording will be played prior to each musician’s abstraction to give the listeners context.

Ideas for Creative Exploration, the University’s interdisciplinary initiative that provides small grants for creative research in the arts, funded the Our New Silence project.