Paul Bruinenís Cold Sweat

In ‘Paul Bruinen’s Cold Sweat’ Utrecht based composer Bruinen gives an impression of his father’s fear when he had to participate in the police actions in Indonesia against his will.

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Paul Bruinen created a composition for gamelan, titled ‘Cold Sweat’. The music tells the story of his father who had to fight in Indonesia and never spoke about this dark episode in his life. When Bruinen was asked to create music for a gamelan ensemble, he realized to know next to nothing about his father’s time in Indonesia. A violent world for a young man from the small town of Naaldwijk. Bruinen: ‘It must have been quite a shock for my father to be sent to the East as a seventeen year old boy. He knew nothing of this part of the world, had only heard stories on the radio. And then all the sudden you’re on this ship: six weeks with only men, off to Indonesia. Terrible things must have happened there.”


At home, Bruinen experimented with sound recordings on his father’s record player and mixed them with gamelan music. During repetitions in the Art and Science building he talks about his motivation to create the composition. He would love to smash the instruments of the gamelan music with an axe or saw them to pieces in order to symbolize his father’s fears, but he realizes he can only destroy the heavy gong –just brought in from Indonesia- only once. During the performance of his composition in the Tropical Institute he brings his father’s Indonesian adventure back to life.

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