Rupa Suara 04: Perkatimbung Beru Tarigan Ngasa Gendang Silenguri, North Sumatra

Location: Gong Pinto, Berastagi, North Sumatra

Sound: Gendang kulcapi (also called gendang telu sedalanen)

Photo: Aural Archipelago Documentation

Electroacoustic composition, sound design, mixed and mastered by Iman Fattah.

Traditionally, gendang kulcapi was played as a crucial element of rituals rooted in this traditional belief system. Most importantly, the music is tied to the still-practiced ritual of erpangir ku lau, a ceremony enacted, generally speaking, to bring good fortune. This ritual can be enacted in contexts as wide as a harvest thanksgiving to the ritual opening of a hair salon (as described by R. Anderson Sutton in the Indonesia chapter of World of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World’s Peoples). In the modern era, gendang kulcapi can increasingly be found as a secularized performative art form as well, a compact and potent symbol of the unique Karo ethnic identity.

The word “telu” in this ensemble music’s alternate name, gendang telu sedalanen, means “three” in the Karo language, in reference to the ensemble’s three main instruments. The first element in the trifecta is the kulcapi, a small but expressive long-necked lute with two strings, one for melody, one for that insistent drone. The lute has brothers in the Toba area (hasapi) and elsewhere in North Sumatra, but the dark, filigreed melodies played on the kulcapi give it a sound that truly sets it apart.

Original source and full definition about the music and the culture: Aural Archipelago

*Note: This is an audio focused work, so headphones or decent speaker is advised. 

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