Friday, July 12, 2013

The Great God THOOM

Here is a portrait of one of the most important mentors I've ever had in my life, a true Gandalf to my Bilbo: Dennis Murphy. Dennis was my teacher at Goddard College, where he worked with me on a set of guitar solo versions of Irish fiddle tunes, many of which ended up on my 1980 LP, "Neither Here Nor There." But he was also much much more than that -- trained as an ethnomusicologist, he built the first full Javanese Gamelan in the United States, using old oil drums, tin cans, and scrap wood; he invented his own god (THOOM) and his own language (THOOMESE); he also wrote and directed original Javanese shadow plays, a series of "theatre of the absurd" plays such as "The Goat Painter," and a song cycle (which he called an "operina"), "A Perfect Day," based on the different animals who represented stages in human life. Dennis -- or "Das" as we often called him, was a professor of music at Goddard -- but he was also, more than that, a wiz of a wiz. Here you see him in his garb as a priest of THOOM, on the stage of the Haybarn Theatre at Goddard.

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