Monash University
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Gondang Buluh Irama Mandailing

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posted on 2017-07-17, 05:47 authored by Kartomi, Margaret J., Kartomi, Hidris
Audio 11.4: Audio Example 4 in Chapter 11 of book: Margaret Kartomi, ‘Musical Journeys in Sumatra’, Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2012. Pakantan, situated in the south-west corner of North Sumatra, is an isolated valley of Batak Mandailing hamlets. The people were eventually converted to Islam after Muslim Padri forces invaded the area from around 1810. However, vestiges of ancestral customs and beliefs still prevail in ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, house-warmings and healing rituals. Drum ensembles are a feature of the traditional music that accompanies these practices. The Mandailing believe that ancestral and nature spirits are drawn like a magnet to the sound of cyclic drum rhythms that may be played on 3 types of drum sets. One of these is the “gondang dua”, a set of 2 small double-headed drums traditionally reserved for small weddings and funerals presented by free commoners (as opposed to royalty or slaves). On occasion, stringed bamboo drums (“gondang buluh”) may substitute the “gondang dua”. In the past, the “gondang buluh” was reserved for accompanying ceremonial dances, such as the “Tortor Mandailing”, or for the shaman in his magic pursuits. Today, it is often played for entertainment, by adults or children, in the Mandailing and Angkola areas. This excerpt was recorded in December 1971 at a ceremonial “Tortor Mandailing” performance that took place within the Pakantan diaspora community living in Medan. The ensemble also includes an oboe (“sarune” in Mandailing, and “sarunai” in the Malay and Indonesian languages), cymbals, kettle gongs and gongs. Duration: 1min.10 sec. Copyright 1971. Margaret J. Kartomi.



Margaret J. Kartomi

Geographic location

North Sumatra -- Medan

Collection date


Collection Type

Sound Recording