Musical Journeys in Sumatra

Musical Journeys in Sumatra

MARGARET KARTOMI
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 512
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5406/j.ctt1xcprn
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Musical Journeys in Sumatra
    Book Description:

    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. 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09382-1
    Subjects: Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ORTHOGRAPHY
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. NOTE ON INFORMAL LEARNING, MUSICAL NOTATION, AND TRANSCRIPTION
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. List of Music Examples
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  7. List of Figures
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  8. List of Maps and Tables
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  9. PREFACE
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
  10. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xxvii-xxxii)
  11. 1 SUMATRA’S PERFORMING ARTS, GROUPS, AND SUBGROUPS
    (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.

    The musical arts, or performing arts containing music, include the vocal, instrumental, and body percussive music, the dance and other body movement, the art of self-defense, the bardic arts, and the musical theater performed...

  12. PART I. WEST SUMATRA AND RIAU
    • [I Introduction]
      (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.

      Since the early first millennium c.e., the people of West Sumatra and Riau have spoken varieties of Malay (apart from the western offshore Mentawei islanders, who are not discussed in this book).² In recent times the volcanic soils of...

    • 2 UPSTREAM MINANGKABAU: Music to Capture Tigers By
      (pp. 27-41)

      Associated with a veneration for the ancestors and spirits of nature, the repertory of tiger-capturing songs (dendang marindu harimau, ordendang 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, and accompanied by an imitative but elaborately ornamented flute part in a prolonged series of tiger-capturing rituals, the lead shaman renders the basic melodic idea of a song without any essential changes lest the magic power of the song be lost, as tradition holds it would...

    • 3 THE MINANGKABAU SOUTH COAST: Home of the Mermaid and the Earth Goddess
      (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 based on their connection to the sea as well as the land, as opposed to the single environmental focus of the land-bounddarék, and they too had a main palace, at Indrapura.

      The people are a mix of Malay-speaking, west-coast Sumatran traders...

    • 4 TABUT: A Shi’a Ritual Transplanted from India to Minangkabau’s North Coast
      (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).

      That Sumatran Islam was not just of the orthodox Sunni variety but also had Shi’a elements in early as well as fairly late times has not, however, been widely discussed, presumably because the available evidence for it is scant. This chapter contributes to the evidence by describing an elaborate Shi’a mourning festival...

    • 5 FOUR SUFI MUSLIM GENRES IN MINANGKABAU
      (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, anddabuih. They are believed to have been developed centuries ago by local Sufi brotherhoods as part ofdakwah—the early proselytization of the faith and the deepening of piety among believers, even though the songs ofdikia Mauluikanddabuihare set to mainly secular texts on many occasions.

      Indangis a song-dance performed by a row of men or women induduak(“sitting,” actually half-kneeling) position with rhythmic body...

    • 6 THE RIAU INDRAGIRI SULTANATE’S NOBAT ENSEMBLE AND ITS SUKU MAMAK STALWARTS
      (pp. 126-140)

      This chapter deals with thegendang nobatensemble 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 Tradition holds that ever since the Malay palace at Malacca was founded in the fifteenth century c.e., thegendang nobat(nobatdrums) have served as an indispensable symbol of the regalia that authorized the ruler’s sovereignty. If anobatwas stolen or lost, the sultan who had owned it lost...

  13. PART II. SOUTH SUMATRA AND BANGKA
    • [II Introduction]
      (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.

      Ecologically South Sumatra is dominated by the Bukit Barisan mountain range in the west where the mighty Musi River and its maze of tributaries begin, dissecting the descending plains across to the coastal marshes and the sea in the east.

      South Sumatrans speak an estimated thirty-two varieties of Malay (Barendregt 2005) and varieties of the Lampungic language group, and the...

    • 7 SOUTH SUMATRA: “The Realm of Many Rivers”
      (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

      South Sumatra’s magnificent network of rivers and tributaries—known as the Batang Hari Sembilan (lit. “Nine River Branches”)—has governed its peoples’ travels, worldviews,adat, legends, and musical arts for well over two millennia (see map 7.1).² From the early centuries of the Common Era, local...

    • 8 THE WARTIME CREATION OF “GENDING SRIWIJAYA”: From Banned Song to South Sumatran Symbol
      (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, who had been led to believe that its nostalgic reference to the glory of the Sriwijaya-Palembang kingdom in the seventh to eleventh centuries c.e. (Manguin 1993) represented their support for the Japanese wartime ideology of “Asia for Asians,” as opposed to the...

    • 9 THE ISLAND OF BANGKA
      (pp. 204-216)

      This chapter discusses the performing arts of Bangka’s four main musico-lingual subgroups: the Bangka Malays, the Suku Lom forest-dwellers, the Suku Sekak sea-boat-dwellers, and the Bangka Chinese Indonesians.¹

      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 (wherelommeansbelum[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, and the Suku Sekak are also animists who, like other...

  14. PART III. NORTH SUMATRA
    • [III Introduction]
      (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. Culturally and lingually they are quite separate from their Christian or Muslim Batak neighbors. The Pasisir’s eastern land border has continually changed over the past century as impinging Batak populations expanded, settling closer to the...

    • 10 FROM SINGKIL TO NATAL: Sikambang, a Malay-Portuguese Song-Dance Genre
      (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 Mainly comprising fisherfolk, sailors, small traders, and descendants of aristocrats whose wealth was made from the local camphor and benzoin trade, these sea-oriented Muslims keep themselves culturally and lingually separate from their land-bound Batak Christian and Muslim neighbors who live between thepasisirarea and the...

    • 11 THE MANDAILING RAJA TRADITION IN PAKANTAN
      (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, which we also visited several times during the 1970s and 1980s.¹ The testimonies were about their traditional philosophy, veneration of nature and the ancestors, visual art and design, and performing arts. I also draw on nineteenth-century...

  15. PART IV. ACEH
    • [IV Introduction]
      (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) and the northern Acehnese (in Kabupatens Aceh Besar, Pidie, Bireuen, and Aceh Utara).

      It is thought that the ancestors of the Acehnese migrated to coastal Aceh from the Chamic (Mon-Khmer) region of the Southeast Asian mainland in the mid-first millennium c.e. and around 1471 (Durie 1990, 111;...

    • 12 CHANGES IN THE LAMENT DANCES IN ACEH: Phô as a Symbol of Female Identity
      (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 (peusijuekritual), and they created three lament song-dances that feature solo and group singing, stamping dance routines around a ritual subject, and episodes of body percussion.¹ This chapter will show how aspects of religion, ethnicity, class, and gender; socio-political conditions; and the activities of some remarkable individual women have resulted in the survival of the song-dances—manoe pocuk, malelang, andphô—over the past...

    • 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
      (pp. 316-342)

      The largest kind of frame drum in Aceh is the greatrapa’i Pasè, with a skin head and heavy wooden body of up to a meter or more in upper diameter and up to thirty-two 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 Venerated as family heirlooms and associated with supernatural energy,adat, Islam, state political power, the historical greatness of Aceh, and male-human strength, therapa’i Pasèwas traditionally played...

    • 14 CONNECTIONS ACROSS SUMATRA
      (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; gender factors; signal items of identity; and major changes since around 1900. To what extent an understanding of these connections can contribute to a concept of Sumatra’s performing arts as a unified whole will become clearer when more research into the whole of greater Sumatra is completed.

      Religious beliefs and practices have inspired,...

  16. APPENDIX 1 THE LANGUAGES OF SUMATRA
    (pp. 373-374)
  17. APPENDIX 2 HISTORICAL STUDIES OF SUMATRA AND ETHNICITY
    (pp. 375-376)
  18. APPENDIX 3 MUSICAL STUDIES OF SUMATRA
    (pp. 377-378)
  19. APPENDIX 4 TUNINGS AND VOCAL SCALES IN SOUTH SUMATRA
    (pp. 379-380)
  20. APPENDIX 5 GAMELAN IN SUMATRA
    (pp. 381-382)
  21. APPENDIX 6 AUDIO EXAMPLES AND AUDIOVISUAL RECORDINGS ON THE WEBSITE
    (pp. 383-384)
  22. NOTES
    (pp. 385-420)
  23. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 421-432)
  24. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 433-454)
  25. INDEX
    (pp. 455-478)
  26. Back Matter
    (pp. 479-480)