The Music of Indonesia
The music of Indonesia demonstrates its cultural diversity, the local musical creativity, as well as subsequent foreign musical influences that shaped contemporary music scenes of Indonesia. Nearly thousands of Indonesian islands having its own cultural and artistic history and character. This results in hundreds of different forms of music, which often accompanies dance and theater. The musics of Java, Sumatra, Bali, Flores and other islands have been documented and recorded, and research by Indonesian and international scholars is ongoing. The music in Indonesia predates historical records, various Native Indonesian tribes often incorporate chants and songs accompanied with musics instruments in their rituals. Today the contemporary music of Indonesia is popular in the region, including neighboring countries; Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
Kecapi suling is a type of instrumental music that is highly improvisational and popular in parts of West Java that employs two instruments, kecapi (zither) and suling (bamboo flute). It is related to tembang sunda.
Angklung is a bamboo musical instrument native to Sundanese people of West Java. It is made out of bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame. The tubes are carved so that they have a distinctive resonant pitch when being vibrated. Each angklung only plays one note.
Kolintang or kulintang is a bronze and wooden percussion instrument native to eastern Indonesia and also The Philippines. In Indonesia it is particularly associated with Minahasa people of North Sulawesi, however it also popular in Maluku and Timor.
Sasando is a plucked string instrument native of Rote island of East Nusa Tenggara. The parts of sasando are a bamboo cylinder surrounded by several wedges where the strings are stretched, surrounded by a bag-like fan of dried lontar or palmyra leafs (Borassus flabellifer), functioned as the resonator of the instrument.
Musical performance from Tapanuli area of Batak of North Sumatra. Tapanuli ogong is a form of dance music played with a type of lute, trumpet and flute.
The diverse world of Indonesian music genres was the result of the musical creativity of its people, and also the subsequent cultural encounters with foreign musical influences into the archipelago. Next to distinctive native form of musics, several genres can traces its origin to foreign influences; such as gambus and qasidah from Middle Eastern Islamic music, keroncong from Portuguese influences, and dangdut with notable Hindi music influence.
Indonesian regional folk pop musics reflects the diversity of Indonesian culture and Indonesian ethicity, mostly use local languages and a mix of western and regional style music and instruments. Indonesian folk music is quite diverse, and today embraces pop, rock, house, hip hop and other genres, as well as distinct Indonesian forms. There are several kinds of "ethnic" pop music, generally grouped together as Pop Daerah (regional pop). These include Pop sunda, Pop Minang, Pop Batak, Pop Melayu, Pop Ambon, Pop Minahasa and others. Other than featuring the legacy of Lagu Daerah (regional traditional songs) of each regional cultures, the musician might also create some new compositions in their own native language.
Tembang sunda, also called seni mamaos cianjuran, or just cianjuran, is a form of sung poetry which arose in the colonial-era of Cianjur. It was first known as an aristocratic art; one cianjuran composer was R.A.A. Kusumahningrat (Dalem Pancaniti), ruler of Cianjur (1834–1862). The instruments of Cianjuran are kacapi indung, kacapi rincik and suling or bamboo flute, and rebab for salendro compositions. The lyrics are typically sung in free verse, but a more modern version, panambih, is metrical. It is usually the drums.
Jaipongan is a very complex rhythmic dance music from the Sundanese people of western Java. The rhythm is liable to change seemingly randomly, making dancing difficult for most listeners. Its instruments are entirely Sundanese, completely without imported instruments. It was invented by artists like Gugum Gumbira after Sukarno prohibited rock and roll and other western genres in the '60s.
Gambus literally means oud, referring to a type of lute or 12ing pear-shaped guitar, is the Middle-Eastern-derived Islamic vocal and instrumental music. These traditions began to be incorporated throughout many areas of Indonesia by the 16th century.
Qasidah is an ancient Arabic word for religious poetry accompanied by chanting and percussion. Qasidah modern adapts this for pop audiences. It is used to denote a type of orchestra and the music it plays, believed to be introduced by Muslim settlers from Yemen. Qasidah modern were derived from Islamic pop, adding local dialects and lyrics that address Indonesian contemporary issues. Though popular among Arabs in Indonesia, it has gained little popularity elsewhere.
The contemporary form of Islamic Middle eastern influenced musics in Indonesia is Debu, that featuring sufism approach on music to spread their message.
Kroncong (alternative spelling: Keroncong) has been evolving since the arrival of the Portuguese, who brought with them European instruments. By the early 1900s, it was considered a low-class urban music. This changed in the 1930s, when the rising Indonesian film industry began incorporating kroncong. And then even more so in the mid- to late 1940s, it became associated with the struggle for independence.
Perhaps the most famous song in the kroncong style is Bengawan Solo, written in 1940 by Gesang Martohartono, a Solonese musician. Written during the Japanese Imperial Army occupation of the island in World War II, the song (about the Bengawan Solo River, Java's longest and most important river) became widely popular among the Javanese, and then later nationally when recordings were broadcast over the local radio stations. The song also became quite popular with the Japanese soldiers, and when they returned to Japan at the end of the war re-recordings of it (by Japanese artists) became best-sellers. Over the years it has been re-released many times by notable artists, mainly within Asia but also beyond (like Anneke Grönloh), and in some places it is seen as typifying Indonesian music. Gesang himself remains the most renowned exponent of the style, which although it is seen now as a somewhat starchy and "dated" form is still popular among large segments of the population, particularly the older generation.
After the World War II and during Indonesian National Revolution (1945—1949) and afterwards, kroncong was associated with patriotism, since many of Indonesian poets and patriotic songs authors uses kroncong and somewhat jazz fusion as the genre of their works. The patriotic theme and romantic wartime romance was obvious in the works of Ismail Marzuki, such as Rayuan Pulau Kelapa, Indonesia Pusaka, Sepasang Mata Bola, Keroncong Serenata and Juwita Malam. These patriotic songs can be sung in hymn or even in orchestra, but most often was sung in kroncong style known as kroncong perjuangan (struggle kroncong). The kroncong divas; Waldjinah, Sundari Sukoco and Hetty Koes Endang, was instrumental in reviving the style in the 1980s.
Langgam Jawa or Tembang Jawa
There is a style of kroncong native to Surakarta (Solo) called langgam jawa, which fuses kroncong with the gamelan seven-note scale.
Early in the 20th century, kroncong was used in a type of theater called komedi stanbul; adapted for this purpose, the music was called gambang kromong. Gambang kromong is quite prevalent in Betawi culture of Jakarta.
Dangdut was originally an Indonesian dance music that has spread throughout Southeast Asia, became the dominant pop style in the mid-1970s. Famous for its throbbing beat and the slightly moralistic lyrics that appeal to Muslim youth, dangdut stars dominate the modern pop scene. However dangdut — especially performed by female singers — also often featuring suggestive dance movements and naughty lyrics to appeal the larger audience. This development was strongly opposed by the conservative older generation dangdut artist. Dangdut is based around the singers, and stars include Rhoma Irama and Elvy Sukaesih (the King and Queen of Dangdut), Mansyur S., A. Rafiq, Camelia Malik and Fahmy Shahab; along with Cici Paramida, Evie Tamala, Inul Daratista, Julia Perez and Dewi Perssik from younger generation.
A musical fusion style of traditional Javanese music and dangdut that prevalent in Javanese cultural sphere, mainly Central Java, Yogyakarta and East Java. There is also Sundanese version of campursari prevalent in Bandung region of West Java. Perhaps its greatest current artist is Didi Kempot.
The Music of Cambodia
The music of Cambodia is derived both from traditions dating back to the ancient Khmer Empire and from the rapid Westernization of the popular music scene in modern times.
Cambodian Art music is highly influenced by ancient forms as well as Hindu forms. Religious dancing, many of which depict stories and ancient myths, are common. Some dances are accompanied by a pinpeat orchestra, which includes a ching (cymbal), roneat (bamboo xylophone), pai au (flute), sralai (oboe), chapey (bass banjo), gong (bronze gong), tro (fiddle), and various kinds of drums. Each movement the dancer makes refers to a specific idea, including abstract concepts like today (pointing a finger upwards). The 1950s saw a revival in classical dance, led by queen Sisowath Kossamak Nearyrath
The Music of Vietnam
Traditional Vietnamese music is highly diverse and syncretistic, combining native and foreign influences. Throughout its history, Vietnam has been heavily impacted by the Chinese musical tradition, as an integral part, along with Korea, Mongolia and Japan. The ancient Indochinese kingdom of Champa also had an historical effect upon this music, because the Vietnamese court found it intriguing. However, even with these foreign influences, Vietnam has a unique musical tradition stemming from its native roots.
The Music of Thailand
The music of Thailand reflects its geographic position at the intersection of China and India, and reflects trade routes that have historically included Persia, Africa, Greece and Rome. Thai musical instruments are varied and reflect ancient influence from far afield - including the klong thap and khim (Persian origin), the jakhe (Indian origin), the klong jin (Chinese origin), and the klong kaek (Indonesian origin). Though Thailand was never colonized by colonial powers, pop music and other forms of modern Asian, European and American music have become extremely influential. The two most popular styles of traditional Thai music are luk thung and mor lam; the latter in particular has close affinities with the Music of Laos.
Aside from the Thai, ethnic minorities such as the Lao, Lawa, Hmong, Akha, Khmer, Lisu, Karen and Lahu peoples have retained traditional musical forms.
Thai classical music is synonymous with those stylized court ensembles and repertoires that emerged in its present form within the royal centers of Central Thailand some 800 years ago. These ensembles, while being deeply influenced by Khmer and even older practices and repertoires from India, are today uniquely Thai expressions. While the three primary classical ensembles, the Piphat, Khruang Sai and Mahori differ in significant ways, they all share a basic instrumentation and theoretical approach. Each employ the small ching hand cymbals and the krap wooden sticks to mark the primary beat reference. Several kinds of small drums (klong) are employed in these ensembles to outline the basic rhythmic structure (natab) that is punctuated at the end by the striking of a suspended gong (mong). Seen in its most basic formulation, the classical Thai orchestras are very similar to the Cambodian (Khmer) pinpeat and mahori ensembles, and structurally similar to other orchestras found within the widespread Southeast Asian gong-chime musical culture, such as the large gamelan of Bali and Java, which most likely have their common roots in the diffusion of Vietnamese Dong-Son bronze drums beginning in the first century ACE.
Traditional Thai classical repertoire is anonymous, handed down through an oral tradition of performance in which the names of composers (if, indeed, pieces were historically created by single authors) are not known. However, since the beginning of the modern Bangkok period, composers' names have been known and, since around the turn of the century, many major composers have recorded their works in notation. Musicians, however, imagine these compositions and notations as generic forms which are realized in full in idiosyncratic variations and improvisations in the context of performance. While the composer Luang Pradit Phairau (1881–1954) used localized forms of cipher (number) notation, other composers such as Montri Tramote (1908–1995) used standard western staff notation. Several members of the Thai royal family have been deeply involved in composition, including King Prajatipok (Rama VII, 1883–1941) and King Bhumibol Adulyadej (1927–), whose compositions have been more often for jazz bands than classical Thai ensembles.
Classical Thai music is polyphonic and follows similar conventions to American Folk and Dixieland Music. Each instrument improvises within accepted idioms around basic lines of harmony or melody called paths. Rhythmically and metrically Thai music is steady in tempo, regular in pulse, divisive, in simple duple meter, without swing, with little syncopation (p. 3, 39), and with the emphasis on the final beat of a measure or group of pulses and phrase (p. 41), as opposed to the first as in European-influenced music. The Thai scale includes seven tempered notes, instead of a mixture of tones and semitones
The most common and iconic Thai classical music that symbolizes the dancing of the Thailand's legendary dragons, a midsized orchestra including two xylophones (ranat), an oboe (pi), barrel drums (klong) and two circular sets of tuned horizontal gong-chimes (khong wong lek and khong wong yai). Piphat can be performed in either a loud outdoor style using hard mallets or in an indoor style using padded hammers. There are several types of piphat ensembles ranging in size and orchestration, each kind typically being associated with specific ceremonial purposes. The highly decorated piphat ensemble that features the ornately carved and painted semicircular vertical gong-chime is traditionally associated with the funeral and cremation ceremonies of the Mon ethnic group. Different versions of the piphat ensemble are employed to accompany specific forms of traditional Thai drama such as the large shadow puppet theater (nang yai) and the khon dance drama.
The Khruang Sai orchestra combines some of the percussion of wind instruments of the piphat with an expanded string section including the saw duang (a high-pitched twoing bowed lute), the lower pitched saw u (bowed lute) and the threeing jakhe (a plucked zither). In addition to these instruments are the khlui (vertical fipple flute) in several sizes and ranges, a goblet drum (tone-rumana) and, occasionally, a small hammered Chinese dulcimer (khim). The khruang sai ensemble is primarily used for instrumental indoor performances and for accompanying the Thai hoon grabok (stick-puppet theater), a genre deeply influenced by Chinese puppetry styles. Accordingly, the addition of Chinese-sounding string instruments in the khruang sai ensemble is imagined, by the Thai, to be a reference to the probable Chinese origins of this theater form.
The third major Thai classical ensemble is the Mahori, traditionally played by women in the courts of both Central Thailand and Cambodia. Historically the ensemble included smaller instruments more appropriate, it was thought, to the build of female performers. Today the ensemble employs regular sized instruments—a combination of instruments from both the Khruang Sai and Piphat ensembles but excluding the loud and rather shrill oboe pi. The ensemble, which is performed in three sizes—small, medium and large—includes the threeing saw sam sai fiddle, a delicate-sounding, middle-range bowed lute with silk strings. Within the context of the Mahori ensemble, the so sam sai accompanies the vocalist, which plays a more prominent role in this ensemble than in any other classical Thai orchestra.
While Thai classical music was somewhat discouraged as being unmodern and backward looking during Thailand's aggressively nationalistic modernization policies of mid-20th century, the classical arts have benefited recently from increased governmental sponsorship and funding as well as popular interest as expressed in such films as Homrong: The Overture (2003), a popular fictionalized biography of a famous traditional xylophone (ranat ek) performer.