Writings about Music

Javanese Enchantment Across Centuries

Michael Robinson (Los Angeles)

Forest Regions, from the Rainbow Thunder album, was inspired by otherwordly Javanese court music featuring the rebab. For Claude Debussy, hearing Javanese gamelan music at an 1889 Expo in Paris was a centrally transformative experience. In terms of the Eastern world, it was the music of India that touched me most deeply. Debussy himself had a profound effect on my musical orientation by way of a remarkable recording with Pierre Boulez conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra.


Moving from Java, the title composition, Rainbow Thunder, was inspired by African percussion music. Ray Manzarek was especially wowed by this piece.


Moving from Africa to India, also on the Rainbow Thunder album, raga form was explored together with the Turkish ud for The Angel of Ankara.


A fourth composition on the same album, Gopura, includes an unusual piano, also in a raga setting.


Composers today have a unique opportunity to experience musical forms from myriad cultures and times in history. My teacher, Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy, rejoiced in this multiplicity of exposures. Finding new connections between diverse musical forms and traditions for composition and performance is a great passion of mine - the very stuff of creativity.

- Michael Robinson, November 2020, Los Angeles


© 2020 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).