2017-07-25T04:49:13Z (GMT) by
Audio 4.1: Audio Example 1 in Chapter 4 of book: Margaret Kartomi, ‘Musical Journeys in Sumatra’, Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012. “Tabut” is a spectacular pageant-like festival that first emerged in the predominantly Shi’a Muslim communities of Persia and was transplanted to North India, and is still held in various forms in those locations. In Bengkulu and Pariaman, situated on the west coast of Sumatra, a few remaining believers have also continued with annual celebrations of “tabut” on the first ten days of Muharram (the first month in the Islamic calendar), attracting crowds of tourists. “Tabut”, spelt “tabuik” in Minangkabau, was probably transplanted from North India to Bengkulu by Indian Ghurka soldiers of the British when Thomas Stamford Raffles commanded the British settlement there in the early 19th century. Soon thereafter, the Ghurkas dispersed to Pariaman and other Sumatran towns, where they intermarried, bringing their “tabuik” skills with them. During the ten days of the “tabuik” festival, teams of drummers roam the streets practicing their repertoire. Each team contains a score or several scores of large drums (“dol”) and one to three small drums (“tasa”). The intense volume of sound produced by their sheer numbers, and the variety of exciting rhythms played, help to create the passionate religious atmosphere that typifies the festival for believers. Usually one “tasa”, a penetratingly-sounding kettle drum, leads a performance and the few score large barrel-shaped “dol” drums play a separate part. They perform en masse during the final procession when a “burok” is thrown into the sea. The “burok” is a mythical horse with a female human face believed to have transported the martyr Hosen (grandson of the prophet Muhammad) and his brother Hasan to heaven on their defeat at the 7th century Karbala war in Persia. “Dol” and “tasa” drumming became a local Pariaman musical form that was also detached from the festival and became popular in its hinterland, where competitions between groups of musicians are held. Drum rhythms retain their Persian names, eg the fast warring (“basosoh”) rhythm, which is one of the rhythms performed in our excerpt, recorded at a competition of “dol/tasa” music in the village of Tandikat in January 1972. Bp M. Djarang was the head drummer, playing “tasa”. Duration: 4 min. 02 sec. Copyright 1972. Margaret J. Kartomi.