Monash University
monash_62562.mp3 (1.97 MB)

Gordang Lima playing “Sarama” (“crazy”) rhythm

Download (1.97 MB)
posted on 2017-07-17, 05:49 authored by Kartomi, Margaret J., Kartomi, Hidris
Audio 11.2: Audio Example 2 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 “gordang lima”, a set of 5 tuned single-headed drums, used by shamans (“sibaso”) for their healing clairvoyant and other ceremonies. In this excerpt, recorded during a field trip to the Pakantan diaspora community living in Medan in December 1971, the “gordang lima” ensemble comprised the 5 “gordang” or drums, 2 gongs, 3 kettle gongs (“momongan”), small cymbals (“talisasayap”) and an oboe (“sarune” in Mandailing, and “sarunai” in the Malay and Indonesian languages). The “Gordang Sarama” (”crazy rhythm”) piece is played when the shamans reach a frenzied state of trance. Duration: 2min.08 sec. Copyright 1971. Margaret J. Kartomi.



Margaret J. Kartomi

Geographic location

North Sumatra -- Medan

Collection date


Collection Type

Sound Recording