One of the most striking elements of Kena: Bridge of Spirits is its soundtrack, which features the music of traditional Balinese musicians in new compositions. It is the result of a collaboration between composer Jason Gallaty and ensemble group Gamelan Çudamani. We spoke to Jason, as well as founding director of Gamelan Çudamani Dewa Putu Berata and associate director Emiko Saraswati to find out how this musical partnership came about.
Gallaty says he was listening to Çudamani’s music for inspiration, so he decided to see if they would be interested in working together on Kena’s soundtrack. “I felt like with something that the music was originally from Bali and Indonesia and all these instruments were from Bali and Indonesia, I wanted to approach it with respect and I asked to work with them. He emailed them and hoped for the best.
“I’m going to be completely honest, I told the guys that, but my first reaction was, ‘No,’ Saraswati recalls.“ No Gamelan in video games. Dewa and I are traditional artists, d ‘okay, so that poses more complex issues, but mainstream artists sometimes feel like things like video games are things that we work against all the time. “She says Gallaty’s email was convincingly, however, she agreed to talk to him on the phone and listen to him.
“I was like, ‘Oh wait, that stuff sounds cool.’ I realized very, very quickly that I had my own biases that I was working with and that I had to allow this team to explain what they were doing, ”Saraswati said. “The themes are so beautiful and resonate with our culture, our values and our philosophy. And you know, it’s exciting to see that. ”
After a successful recording session in California, Gallaty and Ember Lab’s Creative Director Mike Grier traveled to Bali for a series of more in-depth sessions. Bamboo instruments are too big to be easily transported internationally, and this is where most musicians are located, so it made sense to make the trip. “It was my inspiration, but I wanted to make sure people were aware that it was the cultural music at its core that inspired me, and I wanted that platform to be shared,” says Gallaty. “Things developed from there.”
Berata was able to create original compositions based on images of the game in action or from descriptions of moments or feelings that Gallaty wanted to convey musically. After his musicians created new songs, Gallaty would take them and use them for his own compositions. Working closely with traditional musicians has allowed the team at Ember Lab to avoid pitfalls other game developers have fallen into, such as when The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time inadvertently incorporated prayers. Islamic in one of his songs.