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  • Born

    1942 (age 77)

Daniel Schmidt (b. 1942), who emerged in the Bay Area music scene in the 1970's, wove the threads of traditional Eastern Gamelan music together with American Minimalism (repetitive music). Schmidt was (and is still) a prime figure in the development of American Gamelan music – studying and collaborating with Lou Harrison, Jody Diamond and Paul Dresher. He currently is a teacher at Mills College, teaching instrument building.

Schmidt earned a BA in music from Westminster Choir College and an MFA in composition and Javanese music from California Institute of the Arts. He met gamelan composer Lou Harrison in 1975 at the Center for World Music in Berkeley. Together they organized a concert of original compositions for gamelan. Schmidt participated in frequent discussions with Harrison and others that helped inspire his work in both construction of gamelan instruments and composing for them. Schmidt has built many aluminum and brass gamelan sets including the Berkeley Gamelan, the Sonoma State Gamelan, and Mills College Gamelan.

In addition to gamelan instruments, Schmidt has collaborated with Paul Dresher in inventing and building the instruments for several traveling performances. In addition to his instrument building work, Schmidt is a gamelan composer. He says of these two parallel activities, "Instrument building and composing are hand-in-glove activities. I build instruments to meet the demands of the music I write. I operate with a vision which includes both. I dream of a timbre and at the same time I am imagining its musical setting. These two sides of my life are melded together in infinite ways."

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