In My Arms, Many Flowers

Daniel Schmidt, 2016

Music of non-Western cultures—especially Eastern Pacific gamelan styles—has exerted a heavy influence on composition since the second half of the twentieth century. While it informed advances as far back as Debussy, it is most plainly heard in minimalists, like Steve Reich, Phillip Glass, Terry Riley (and more). Each of them was inspired by one aspect or another and incorporated it into their own tradition. Away from these marquee names, you can hear the roots of it more clearly.

Many liberal arts colleges had working gamelan ensembles in the late 60s-70s time. The recordings on In My Arms, Many Flowers are unashamed to be what they are: compositions for gamelan by a Western scholar at Berkley. In that, though, they end up being a more mutual meeting of Eastern traditions and Western minimalism—more diplomatic, and somehow less an act of appropriation despite being more, perhaps, derivative. They are delicate, intricate and patient—and beautifully recorded, especially for getting their first airing 30+ years after they were laid down.