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Musical Journeys in Sumatra

Margaret J. Kartomi

Publication Year: 2012

Although Sumatra is the sixth largest island in the world and home to an estimated 44 million Indonesians, its musical arts and cultures have not been the subject of a book-length study until now. Documenting and explaining the ethnographic, cultural, and historical contexts of Sumatra's performing arts, Musical Journeys in Sumatra also traces the changes in their style, content, and reception from the early 1970s onward._x000B__x000B_Having dedicated almost forty years of scholarship to exploring the rich and varied music of Sumatran provinces, Margaret Kartomi provides a fascinating ethnographic record of vanishing musical genres, traditions, and practices that have become deeply compromised by the pressures of urbanization, rural poverty, and government policy. This deeply informed collection showcases the complex diversity of Indonesian music and includes field observations from six different provinces: Aceh, North Sumatra, Riau, West Sumatra, South Sumatra, and Bangka-Belitung. Featuring photographs and original drawings from Kartomi's field observations of instruments and performances, Musical Journeys in Sumatra provides a comprehensive musical introduction to this neglected, very large island, with its hundreds of ethno-linguistic-musical groups.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Most non-English terms in this book are given in a speech variety of Malay, Minangkabau, Batak Mandailing, Acehnese, or Latinized Arabic, with an appropriate abbreviation in parenthesis—Ma., Mi., and so on, or in the Indonesian language (I.). ...


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pp. ix-x

Note on Informal Learning, Musical Notation and Transcription

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pp. xi-xii

List of Music Examples

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pp. xiii-xvi

List of Figures

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pp. xvii-xx

List of Tables and Maps

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pp. xxi-xxii

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pp. xxiii-xxvi

Mas Kartomi and I have many warm memories of Sumatra. Our most moving experiences were of economically poor but culturally rich villagers everywhere who gave unstintingly of their warmth and hospitality, invited us to their weddings, circumcisions, and religious celebrations, and organized performances at our request, often with little notice. ...

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pp. xxvii-xxx

An island whose people have been as kind and hospitable as those of Sumatra places me under an obligation to document, analyze, and bring the extraordinary artistic expressions and achievements of its peoples to public attention. Hundreds of musicians, instrument makers, dancers, poets, storytellers, shamans, headmen, fisherfolk, farmers, merchants, ...

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Chapter 1. Sumatra's Performing Arts, Groups, and Subgroups

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pp. 1-18

This book is an introduction to the traditional musical arts of Sumatra, the sixth largest island in the world and home to an estimated 44 million Indonesians.1 It aims to document and explain the ethnographic, cultural, and historical contexts of the performing arts that contain music, and to trace some of the changes in their style, content, and reception from 1971 when our field travels began. ...

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Part I. West Sumatra and Riau

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pp. 19-26

The Minangkabau- and the Malay-speaking peoples of the central region of Sumatra live in three provinces—West Sumatra, Riau, and the Riau Islands (Kepulauan Riau), of which only the first two are relevant to part I (i.e., chaps. 2–5 about West Sumatra and chap. 6 about Riau).1 In colonial times all three provinces were part of one province: Central Sumatra. ...

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Chapter 2. Upstream Minangkabau: Music to Catch Tigers By

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pp. 27-41

Associated with a veneration for the ancestors and spirits of nature, the repertory of tiger-capturing songs (dendang marindu harimau, or dendang manangkok harimau) belongs to the most evocative of the traditional vocal music (dendang) of the Minangkabau highlands. Singing with great respect for the tiger in freely ornamented chant-like melodic settings of beautiful poetry, ...

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Chapter 3 The Minangkabau South Coast Home of the Mermaid and the Earth Goddess

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pp. 42-73

To many West Sumatrans and observers, the Minangkabau south coast (Mi. pasisia salatan) is a cultural backwater of the much better known heartland (Mi. darék; I. darat), with its historical palace at Pagaruyung.1 As this chapter aims to show, however, the people of the south coast have their own distinctive heritage of rituals, music, dance, and epic storytelling ...

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Chapter 4. Tabut: A Shi’a Ritual Transplanted from India to Minangkabau’s North Coast

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pp. 74-96

A number of historians have observed that Islam came to Indonesia largely by way of India, indeed that it was “filtered through the religious experience of India” (Benda 1958, 12) and “had thus acquired mystical elements that fitted it to operate within the Indonesian setting” (Legge 1964, 49). ...

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Chapter 5. Four Sufi Muslim Genres in Minangkabau

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pp. 97-125

This chapter examines four genres of the Muslim-associated performing arts as Mas Kartomi and I experienced them in Minangkabau during the 1970s and 1980s: indang, salawek dulang, dikia Mauluik, and dabuih. They are believed to have been developed centuries ago by local Sufi brotherhoods as part of dakwah ...

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Chapter 6. The Riau Indragiri Sultanate's Nobat Ensemble and Its Suku Mamak Stalwarts

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pp. 126-140

This chapter deals with the gendang nobat ensemble in the former Malay palace of Indragiri, located at Rengat between the middle and upper reaches of the Indragiri River. It belongs to the court traditions of the group of Malay sultanates that once ruled in Sumatra, the Malay Peninsula, and Brunei.1 ...

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Part II: South Sumatra and Bangka

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pp. 141-144

The southern region of Sumatra is divided into five provinces: Lampung, Bengkulu, South Sumatra, Bangka-Belitung, and Jambi, of which only South Sumatra and the Bangka part of Bangka-Belitung (which separated from South Sumatra in 2000) are discussed in this book. ...

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Chapter 7. South Sumatra “The Realm of Many Rivers”

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pp. 145-185

This chapter will show how South Sumatra’s topography—the mountains, plains, rivers, and seas—can serve as a key interpretative grid for understanding the historical distribution of its musico-lingual groups, and how the region’s environment and associated cosmology, adat, and the history of religion and foreign contact have shaped its music, dance, and theater.1 ...

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Chapter 8. The Wartime Creation of "Gending Sriwijaya": From Banned Song to South Sumatran Symbol

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pp. 186-203

The subject of this chapter is the history of a single song-dance, the text of which is translated above.1 Created in 1945 by a team of artists in wartime Palembang, the song “Gending Sriwijaya” was first performed with its accompanying dance “Tari Gending Sriwijaya” (“Sriwijaya Dance Piece”) as an ironic joke at the expense of the Japanese invaders, ...

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Chapter 9. The Island of Bangka

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pp. 204-216

According to some performing artists and community elders whom I interviewed on Bangka in 1981 and 1994, today’s Bangka Malays are descendants of former Bangka Malay chiefdoms,2 while the Suku Mapur or Suku Lom (where lom means belum [BI], i.e., “those who do not yet adhere to a world religion”) are animists who prefer to live in relative isolation in the forests, ...

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Part III: North Sumatra

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pp. 217-220

The province of North Sumatra is home to two main musico-lingual groups: the Pasisir Melayu (Coastal Malays) in the western and eastern coastal plains, and the Batak, who live between the coast and the foothills of the Great Dividing Range to the east. Although most people on the Pasisir are devout Muslims, they still retain some traditional coastal Malay customs based on local indigenous religion. ...

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Chapter 10. From Singkil to Natal: Sikambang, a Malay-Portuguese Song-Dance Genre

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pp. 221-250

The dominant musico-lingual subgroup along Sumatra’s northwest coast between Singkil and Natal is called the Pasisir Melayu (Coastal Malay) or Sumando. This group inhabits the Pasisir coast, a narrow strip of land between the ports of Singkil and Natal along Sumatra’s mid-northwest coast and including the former twin-court town of Barus (see map 10.1).1 ...

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Chapter 11. The Mandailing Raja Tradition in Pakantan

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pp. 251-284

This chapter focuses on the social role, aesthetic thought, and ritual practice of the ceremonial music in the village complex of Pakantan in south Tapanuli, as we experienced it in 1971, 1972, and 1978. Much of its content is based on testimonies given to us by local female and male musicians and elders in 1978 and by members of the Pakantan diaspora in Medan, ...

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Part IV: Aceh

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pp. 285-292

Aceh, the northernmost province of Sumatra, is largely mountainous and covered in dense tropical forest, with short rivers running down to the coastal areas (see map IV.1).1 Chapters 12 and 13 center on Aceh’s two largest musico-lingual groups: the western Acehnese (in Kabupatens Aceh Jaya, Aceh Barat, Nagan Raya, and Aceh Barat Daya) ...

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Chapter 12. Changes in the Lament Dances in Aceh: Phô as a Symbol of Female Identity

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pp. 293-315

Remarkably, remnants of the ancient Acehnese culture of lament singing and dancing have survived among the women of western Aceh to this day. Traditionally they sang laments at funerals and at a bride’s last ritual wash (peusijuek ritual), and they created three lament song-dances that feature solo and group singing, stamping dance routines around a ritual subject, ...

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Chapter 13. "Only If a Man Can Kill a Buffalo with One Blow Can He Play a Rapa'i Pasè": The Frame Drum as a Symbol of Male Identity

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pp. 316-342

The largest kind of frame drum in Aceh is the great Rapa'i Pasè", with a skin head and heavy wooden body of up to a meter or more in upper diameter and up to thirtytwo centimeters in body length.1 The name is believed to derive from the Pasai (Ac. Pasè) district of North Aceh, where the first known Muslim kingdom in Southeast Asia—Samudera Pasai—was founded in the late thirteenth century.2 ...

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Chapter 14. Connections across Sumatra

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pp. 343-372

This concluding chapter will draw together some of the connections between the traditional styles and genres of the performing arts across Sumatra, focusing on the impact of indigenous religion and Islam; classification of the musical instruments and ensembles; myths and legends; dances and music-dance relationships; social classes; ...

Appendix 1. The Languages of Sumatra

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pp. 373-374

Appendix 2. Historical Studies of Sumatra and Ethnicity

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pp. 375-376

Appendix 3. Musical Studies of Sumatra

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pp. 377-378

Appendix 4. Tunings and Vocal Scales in South Sumatra

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pp. 379-380

Appendix 5. Gamelan in Sumatra

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pp. 381-382

Appendix 6. Audiovisual Recordings and Audio Examples on the Website

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pp. 383-384


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pp. 385-420


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pp. 421-432


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pp. 433-454


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pp. 455-478

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About the Author, Publication Information

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Margaret Kartomi, AM, Dr Phil, FAHA, is Professor of Music at Monash University and the author of many articles and five books, including On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780252093821
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252036712

Page Count: 512
Publication Year: 2012