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A House in Bali by Colin McPhee

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A House in Bali explores the music at the heart of the fabled island of Bali.

This enchanting book tells the story of renowned writer and composer Colin McPhee's (1900-1964) obsession with Balinese gamelan music, and of his journey to Bali to experience it first hand. In 1929, the young Canadian-born musician chanced upon rare gramophone recordings of Balinese gamelan which were to change his life forever. From that moment, he dreamed of the day when he could set foot on the island where that music originated. In the 1930s, he realized his dream and lived there for almost a decade there. As McPhee discovered to his delight, music and dance are second nature to the Balinese. McPhee's subsequent writings and compositions proved seminal in popularizing gamelan music in the West.

In this lovingly-told memoir, McPhee unfolds a beguiling picture of a society like few others in the world—staggeringly poor in some ways, but rich beyond belief in spiritual values, integrity, and joy. The young American composer writes about his discoveries and his growing understanding of an astonishing culture where art is a preoccupation—and of all the arts, music reigns supreme. This is a book about passion, obsession, and discovery, but at its core it is also the journey of a supremely talented composer and writer. Much has been written about Bali, but this classic work remains the singular personal narrative of a sensitive Western musician.

Product details

Goodreads rating: 3.84

Condition: Used - very good

Format: Paperback, 216 pages

Dimensions: 131 x 202 x 17mm, 286g

Publication date: 15 May 2000

Publisher: Tuttle Publishing 

ISBN-13: 9789625936291