Despite being the sixth largest island in the world and home to an estimated 44 million Indonesians, Sumatra’s musical arts and cultures have not been the subject of a book-length study until now. Documenting and explaining the ethnographic, cultural, and historical contexts of Sumatra’s performing arts, Musical Journeys in Sumatra also traces the changes in their style, content, and reception from the early 1970s onward.
Having dedicated nearly forty years of scholarship to exploring the rich and varied music of Sumatran provinces, Margaret Kartomi provides a fascinating ethnographic record of vanishing musical genres, traditions, and practices that have become deeply compromised by the pressures of urbanisation, rural poverty, and government policy.
This first book on music of the great island of Sumatra showcases the complex diversity of Indonesian music and includes field-based accounts from six different provinces of Sumatra: Aceh, North Sumatra, Riau, West Sumatra, South Sumatra and Bangka-Belitung.
Featuring unique photographs and original drawings from Kartomi’s field observations of instruments and performances, Musical Journeys in Sumatra provides a comprehensive musical introduction to this neglected, very large island, with its hundreds of ethno-linguistic-musical groups.
“This volume presents a lifetime of writings by a distinguished scholar on the musical arts of Sumatra. Readers get a comprehensive glimpse of the myriad music and dance styles, ritual and religious life, cultural politics, and ecological and gender issues that permeate throughout the island.”
–David D. Harnish, author of Bridges to the Ancestors: Music, Myth, And Cultural Politics at an Indonesian Festival.
“Widely recognized as the expert on the music of Sumatra, Margaret Kartomi provides a wealth of information on the music of various regions of the huge and culturally diverse island of Sumatra in Indonesia. No other book comes close to the treasure trove of descriptive data and detail here.”
–R. Anderson Sutton, author of Traditions of Gamelan Music in Java: Musical Pluralism and Regional Identity.
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- Book Resources: Audio and Audiovisual examples
Musical Journeys in Sumatra: Audio and Audiovisual examples
See list of audio and audiovisual examples for this book, and link to the ARROW Repository to listen to the examples
The Gamelan Digul and the Prison Camp Musician Who Built It
This is the story of a particular Javanese group of ‘matching’ musical instruments called the gamelan Digul, and their creator, the Indonesian musician and political activist Pontjopangrawit (1893-ca. 1965).
Gamelan Digul (Indonesian Translation)
This is the Indonesian translation of the 2002 book “The Gamelan Digul and the Prison Camp Musician Who Built It” by Margaret Kartomi.
On Concepts and Classifications of Musical Instruments
Kartomi first moves through a culture-specific inspection of several societies in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and then, synthesizing current ethnomusicological trends, proceeds to make a large-scale comparative study of classification schemes and the concepts which govern them.
Musical Instruments of Indonesia: An Introductory Handbook
Published by the Indonesian Arts Society to mark its tenth year of activities, this book accompanied an exhibition of a representative range of Indonesian musical instruments, including pipes, xylophones, metal-keyed instruments, gongs, drums, zithers and many more.
Matjapat songs in Central and West Java
This book discusses the uses and functions of songs in Javanese and Sundanese matjapat poetic metres such as Dandanggula, Sinom, Kinanti, Durma, Maskumambang and Mijil,