The Kartomi Collection of Traditional Musical Arts in Sumatra

About 200 items of traditional musical arts in Sumatra recorded over 40 years of fieldwork have been digitised for preservation and made accessible online through the Repository. The collection captures 150 hours of recordings and photographs by Professor Margaret Kartomi of the School of Music–Conservatorium made possible by an Australian Research Council Grant dedicated to the cataloguing and preservation of unique music collections.

Meuseukat (I)

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Meuseukat (I)
Kartomi, Margaret J. & Kartomi, Hidris

Date: 1982

For female participants. Performance of meuseukat, a female sitting dance genre. In this image, 8 young women wearing Muslim head scarves, long kebaya (blouses) and black trousers dance in sitting (duek) position (as opposed to dong or standing position). Their sitting position here involves them resting on their forelegs in kneeling position while they clap or perform other body percussion synchronously or in interlocking rhythms. Sometimes they raise their thighs to vertical position while kneeling on their forelegs. As well as providing exciting rhythmic interest with their body percussion, meuseukat performers may include vocal segments, singing songs with secular texts that are usually interspersed with Muslim religious phrases. In the image, the dance leader (syeh) wears a purple head scarf, while the rakan (rest of the row of dancers) wear alternating orange and navy blue head scarves. An aneuk (child) syahe (poetry) or "child of poetry", who is positioned towards the far end of the group in this image and is wearing a pink head scarf, leads the singing while the group responds in chorus.

Tari piring
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Tari piring
Kartomi, Margaret J. & Kartomi, Hidris

Date: 1985

For female participants. “Plate (piring) dance (tari)” which symbolises the activities associated with farming as well as appreciation for a bountiful harvest: young women dance tari piring in a street procession.

Tari tanggai
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Tari tanggai
Kartomi, Margaret J. & Kartomi, Hidris

Date: 1971

For female participants. Long finger-nail (tanggai) dance (tari): dancer wearing gold-thread songket material (made in the surrounding Ogan-Komering Ilir basin) as part of the bridal costume. It is a dance performed to welcome important guests at weddings and other celebrations.

Ensemble Tanjidor
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Ensemble Tanjidor
Kartomi, Margaret J. & Kartomi, Hidris

Date: 1988

For male participants. “Tanjidor band”, consisting here of trumpet, saxophone, trombone, clarinet, horn, bass, cymbal and kettle drum. Tanjidor takes its name from the Portuguese word tangedor (player), a derivative of tanger meaning ‘to make a twang’ (as on the guitar). The Portuguese, from the sixteenth century, were a prevailing colonial influence in Indonesia until the Dutch took over a century later. In the Dutch colonial period, like in post-Independence times, tanjidor was usually associated with outdoor music appropriate to a procession and or military display, the kind of music played by brass bands. In this image, the tanjidor band ‘Corps Pemuda Tkt I DKI’ is playing at a wedding. (For more information, see Ernst Heins, “Kroncong and Tanjidor - Two Cases of Urban Folk Music in Jakarta” in Asian Music, 7/1, Southeast Asia Issue (1975), pp. 20-32; also Philip Yampolsky, “Betawi & Sundanese Music of the North Coast of Java: Topeng Betawi, Tanjidor, Ajeng”, CD 5, Washington DC: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

Gendang and gong ensemble
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Gendang and gong ensemble
Kartomi, Margaret J. & Kartomi, Hidris

Date: 1984

For male participants. Artists from the Talang Mamak ethnic group (semi-nomadic Malay forest dwelling people) perform on the gendang (double-headed drum) and gong to accompany a demonstration of the local style of the art of self defence. The Talang Mamak traditionally served the local Malay court of Indragiri, and in 1984 they still maintained contact with its royal descendants.

Gendang pair and gong
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Gendang pair and gong
Kartomi, Margaret J. & Kartomi, Hidris

Date: 1984

For male participants. A pair of drummers from the Talang Mamak ethnic group (semi-nomadic Malay forest dwelling people) performs interlocking rhythms on the gendang (double-headed drum) to accompany a demonstration of the local form of the art of self defence. The function of the gong is to mark the main beat in quadruple metre.

Poncak Titibatang
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Poncak Titibatang
Kartomi, Margaret J. & Kartomi, Hidris

Date: 1978

For male participants. A pair of Angkola men demonstrating the Angkola art of self defence (Poncak). Titibatang refers to type of weapon – wooden or bamboo (titi) stick/stalk (batang) – used in the dance. It may be performed without accompaniment. If accompaniment is used, the instruments are usually double-headed drums or frame drums.

Tari Japin Melayu
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Tari Japin Melayu
Kartomi, Margaret J. & Kartomi, Hidris

Date: 1982

For male or male/female participants. A group of around 10 young men and women performing the japin dance, also known as zapin, accompanied by a group of musicians playing a set of 4 hand drums (marwas) and a violin. In this image, only 3 of the young men are seen and the musicians are not visible. Tari Japin Melayu can also be accompanied by an orkes (ensemble) gambus comprising a singer of pantun verse in Malay, a fretless short-necked lute (gambus), a violin, a set of 4 small hand drums (marwas) and a rebana (frame drum). The dance has an introduction, several sections and a conclusion. It is believed to have derived from the Hadramaut in present day Yemen.

Dangedria theatre
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Dangedria theatre
Kartomi, Margaret J. & Kartomi, Hidris

Date: 1982

A male participant. The traditional southwest Acehnese theatre form, dangedria, is usually performed by a single storyteller who narrates, in verse or prose or song, a local legend (for example, an origin myth involving romance, humour and fighting) all night for several nights at weddings and other celebrations. He accompanies himself on a range of instruments (for example, flute, jews harp, frame drum) and illustrates his stories with realistic properties. He may put on a particular head covering if playing the part of a king and change to a different head covering when he plays the part of a princess, and other for the role of pirate, etc. He may freely choose other properties such as bells. The late dangedria storyteller P. M. Toh, who was born in southwest Aceh, renamed his form of dangedria after the name of a bus stop, P. M. Toh, and gave himself the same name. His performances ranged from the serious to the very comic. In this image, P.M. Toh is surrounded by the instruments and dramatic properties he needs to use in his presentation of dangedria; he is playing the flute during the part of the performance captured by the camera.