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10/09/10

BALAWAN








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I Wayan Balawan (born September 9, 1973 in Bali), better known by the single name Balawan, is an Indonesian guitarist and songwriter. He is best-known as a Batuan Ethnic Fusion guitarist and his ability to play double neck guitar. Balawan has developed the 8 Fingers Touch Style technique, which also known as the Touch-Tapping Style. He is often regarded as one of the fastest guitarists in Indonesia.

Personal life
Balawan listened to Balinese gamelan, a traditional music style from Bali, since birth. At the age of eight he taught himself to play guitar. He joined his first band when he was 14 years old. Although he grew up in a Balinese traditional culture, Balawan played more rock songs rather than gamelan. Some of his favorite bands were Scorpions, Deep Purple and The Beatles.
Eventually he became bored with rock music and decided to study jazz at the Australian Institute of Music in Sydney.[2] During his studies towards a Diploma of Music, he was awarded a three-year scholarship. He studied in Sydney for about five years, during which time he also gained popularity for his exceptional talent of playing guitar and jazz music. After he obtained his Diploma of Music, he went back to Bali in 1997 and formed a band called Batuan Ethnic Fusion, which combined the traditional Balinese gamelan music with jazz/fusion style.

Career
His first professional band is Batuan Ethnic Fusion, which is still active. Besides being a band member, Balawan is also working on his solo career and has released three albums. His first solo album was "Balawan", which released in 1997 by the Acoustic Music Label, a German company. Later, he worked with an Indonesian company, and with his band, he released his first band album, "GloBALIsm", under Chico&Ira production in 1999. Recently Balawan launched his second solo album, "Magic Fingers", under the Sony-BMG Music Indonesia label. Magic Fingers really showcases Balawan's abilities in arranging and composing and his ability to blend modern music with traditional Balinese gamelan.
"It's always exciting to find new things in art and Batuan Ethnic Fusion is a perfect example of artist who explore into the great spectrum in art with passion, love, beauty and freedom..." - Indra Lesmana[3]
As Balawan is considered as the only Indonesian guitarist who able to develop and use the "Touch Tapping" style, he often plays in Germany and Norway. In 2000, Balawan collaborated with many international guitarists at "East Meet West Gitarren Festival Edekoben Germany 2000 Tour". He also has had a tour in 20 cities in Germany in 2001. In the same year, Balawan played at "Hell Blues Festival" in Norway in September.

Technique
Balawan has developed and expanded a technique called "Fingering Tapping" style. The technique enables the guitarist to play two or even three different music progressions at the same time using the same instrument continuously. Another notable player of this technique is Stanley Jordan, an American jazz/fusion guitarist. Balawan developed the same progression with Stanley Jordan, that he is able to produce a piano, bass and guitar at the same time using just one instrument.
Usually Balawan uses all four fingers of his right hand to create the melody progressions and his left hand to create the bass and rhythmic sounds. Another unique thing is that there is no pattern or repetition whatsoever between the left and right hand. Thus Balawan has a very exceptional skill of playing guitar.[2]
Balawan also plays drums, both to fill the tracks on his albums and to develop the "Touch Tapping" style.

Equipment
Since Balawan needs to play rhythmic progression and melody at the same time, he uses a special guitar with two necks made by Julius Salaka, who also created a guitar model for another Indonesian guitarist, Dewa Budjana. Balawan's guitar has a double neck with six strings on the upper neck and seven strings on the lower one, which utilises MIDI pickups to translate the notes he plays into midi notes played via off-board synths and samplers..[4]
Balawan uses Ibanez SA series and Laney amplifiers exclusively.

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