Dion Nataraja

Dion Nataraja

Dion Nataraja (Yogyakarta, b. 1999) is an emerging composer, artist, and scholar from Indonesia. He is currently studying music composition in Bennington College in Vermont, USA. His musical and scholarly works have been focusing on the intersection of areas such as spectral music, Javanese gamelan, improvisation, instrument building, algorithmic composition, posthumanism, postcolonial studies, and critical theories. He has attended masterclasses and studied with musicians of various genres, such as Nick Brooke, Allen Shawn, Steve Lehman, and Darsono Hadiraharjo. In 2020, he was awarded as a finalist of Talea Ensemble’s emerging composer competition. His music has been included as a part of Brown University’s course syllabus titled “Asian Musical Modernisms” taught by Anthony Cheung, as well as in concerts such as PGVIS Symposium 2021 titled “Traditions in Transition”. As a scholar, his works has been published in Jurnal Kajian Seni of Gadjah Mada University, and he has also given lectures in places such as California Institute of the Arts, Komunitas Salihara, Perpromi, October Meeting, et cetera. At the moment, he is focusing his work on Sandikala Ensemble, a Yogyakarta-based ensemble dedicated to contemporary gamelan music.

Presentations

SANDIKALA ENSEMBLE:

Herutjokro As Posthuman (8’37)

is a piece that explores the ideas of Romo Herutjokro Semono (1900 - 1981), the founder of Kapribaden—one of many Javanese kebatinan groups—in relation with the discourse of posthumanism. Conceptually, it is an attempt to deconstruct and build new ideas based on the Javanese idea of rasa; rasa is secularized, reinterpreted, and translated into formal and extra-musical processes. At the technical level, it is an attempt to explore ideas such as orchestration of gamelan extended techniques, gamelan-based improvisation, alternative tuning (the gendèr and suling in this piece is retuned), spectral harmony, and algorithmic processes.

 

Hyperkembangan X (10’38)

The attempt to stretch the concept of irama by exploring the liminality between pulse and noise. This idea, coming from central Javanese gamelan, organizes the temporal density within a piece; starting from irama lancar with one saron panerus beats per balungan notes, to irama rangkep with sixteen saron panerus beats per balungan notes. Hyperkembangan is based on a central question: what would be the sound of an extremely high level of irama sound, where the balungan notes is imperceivably sparse, while the elaboration is extremely dense? This hypothetical situation leads me in conceptualizing a piece based on a progression from pulse, to complex sound, to noise—here, noise is a representation of an overload in elaboration. To achieve this, the piece is played with two gendèrs with pair tuning consists of customized 14-notes system. The "X" in the title suggests a kind of cultural defacing, where new content is imposed on the cultural memory of the music, yet still maintains parts of those memories; a form of musical palimpsest.