Gordang Sambilan : Music and Social Structure


by Edi Nasution





The people of Mandailing give the name of traditional music own with the phrase “uning-uningan ni ompunta na jumolo sunduti”. It means that music from the ancestors wich passed by heredity from one generation to the next generation.


The tradition of music from Mandailing that popular enough is particularly gordang sambilan and gondang boru who presented in various traditional ceremonies and rituals. Gordang sambilan as ritual music can not be presented in vain, but gordang sambilan now has become a music art or entertainment, such as when presented in the last days of Ramadhan and the beginning of Syawal (Idul Fitri). In addition gordang sambilan also presented in the celebration of special ritual, e.g. in the Day of Independence Proclamation of the Republic of Indonesia, National Education Day, and not infrequently also presented to welcome “honorable guests” of local government in Mandailing.

Gordang in ceremony and ritual


In horja siriaon, for example, a marriage ceremony, besides gordang sambilan, usually gondang boru also played for the convoy tortor (traditional dance). In this ceremony, the party dance tortor (traditional dances), among other groups is the kinship mora, kahanggi (suhut), boru and na poso na uli bulung (youth dancers). Therefore, tortor that danced by the kinship groups that called tortor mora, tortor suhut, and tortor boru.


In addition, in each horja godang (traditional big party), usually among the kings of the dance traditional tortor, so tortor is called tortor raja-raja, and tortor that danced by the young-called tortor na poso na uli bulung. In horja godang, for example, a ceremony markaroan boru (traditional celebration of marriage), animal buffalo been (called longit) as a condition for mangampeon gondang, namely gordang to place in the sopo godang, then ask for permission of use through a process of consultation on customary called markobar attended by Namora Natoras and Raja Panusunan Bulung.


After the permit obtained through traditional consensus markobar, to be able to play gordang sambilan side must first in-tinggung (a kind of “ritual beating first”) by Raja Panusunan Bulung, or Datu Paruning-uningan, the leaders of groups representing musicians who act Raja Panusunan Bulung. After gordang sambilan in-tinggung, margordang the opportunity (to play gordang) is open for anyone, including those that even if the new study.


The senior players gordang and is considered to be great also utilize this opportunity to demonstrate skill him-self. Gordang sambilan in the game, spectators gordang assess each of the players, especially the jangat  that acts as their leaders, by considering how panjangati (master of drum) is to build and control the rhythm of sustainable building gordang overall. One important, audience (spectators) are not only assess the terms gordang play only, but also authority and leadership talent in the panjangati.


According to the customs figures, panjangati a dignified and able to lead the unit in the building rhythmic game gordang sambilan believed capable of leading the community. In other words, the Raja Panusunan Bulung that as traditional leaders and community (the king called raja) must be experts play hide and control specialty gordang sambilan as ensemble Mandailing traditional music, so it is not surprising, and not just a mere formality in the ceremony when the Raja Panusunan Bulung to maninggung gordang given the honor as the first hit gordang.


In the past, when gordang sambilan played a huta or banua are disasters such as outbreaks of diseases he. This ritual called paturun sibaso or pasusur begu. Through the intercession of a medium (of shaman), which called sibaso, a datu (supernatural as the leader of the traditional wisdom) to make communication with sibaso to know the cause of the disaster while the solution. In addition, gordang sambilan or gordang tano can also be played to ask for rain when there are quite severe drought, with the intention to agricultural activities and community life can be restored.


gordang22Gordang sambilan ensemble consists of nine drum major fruit with the size of the relatively large and long (drums chime), which is made from wood (called ingul) played by four people. The size and length of the drum is the ninth-stage start from the least to the most. Tube resonator made by holed at wood, and one end hole (the head) closed with a membrane made from dried cow skin (called jangat) is stretched with rattan.


Ninth “drum” has its own name, which is not the same in all places (huta) in Mandailing. In Gunungtua-Muarasoro, the name “gordang” sequentially from the least to the most named: eneng-eneng, udong-kudong, paniga and jangat. In addition, there are a number of equipment called a music idiophone (metal) : ogung jantan and ogung boru – played by one person; mongmongan (three small gong), which played one person; doal (one gong greater slightly from mongmongan) that played one person and talisasayat (cymbal) played by one person, and sometimes accompanied by a wind instrument played one who called saleot or sarune.


Gondang” (song repertoire), which played with ensemble gordang sambilan other sabe-sabe, horja, sampuara batu magulang, roba na mosok, aek magodang, mamele begu and sarama babiat. In Mandailing language, godang has many meanings, among others: the song or the repertory, instruments and “music” itself.



Prediction Origins of Gordang Sambilan


In addition horticulturalists eme (rice) in the rice field, Mandailing people also grow rice in fields in the region tor (hills), which called marhauma. After the area to be planted eme is cleaned, the seed or grain eme in the land to be planted by using a simple tool made from a piece of wood one. Simple tool horticulturalists rice (a kind of “tugal”) in hauma (farm) is called ordang, while the activity of rice to inculcate in the land is called mangordang. In conjunction with this activity mangordang there uling-kulingan (a kind of “expression traditional Mandailing” or metaphor), which read:


Question: Taksipatuktak … three feet impressions, whether it?

Answer: People who … mangordang!


There is a possibility that the word ordang is closely related with the word gordang or gordang sambilan and gordang tano (percussion instrument with strings made from rattan and its resonator a hole in the ground), but not the words of gondang. To see the relationship the two words (ordang and gordang) this can be done with the metaphorical approach and metonymy. Predictions proposed in the context of origin gordang sambilan that is, that from the ninth materials of gordang sambilan previously came from equipment that is more simple music that is gordang tano, while the basic idea of gordang tano itself derived from activities mangordang in hauma.


On the other hand, gordang sambilan as a musical event closely related with the expression “etek do mulo ni gondang” (etek as the origin of the first-gondang). Etek is a musical instrument made of bamboo with a certain form. Etek played one man with two sticks hammer on the left hand ostinato rhythm patterns of use, and one sticks in the hands of the right to a rhythm varied pattern called paniga term. In Mandailing, etek closely related to the activities of agricultural equipment so that the music is there in almost every sopo (loom) in the rice fields and in the field. When someone (male) is to keep the trees and doing activities mamuro (efforts to scare the animals destroyer plants such as birds, primates and pigs) with the cry, and certain equipment, is also sometimes etek. A lonely in the middle of it, to expel the sense of quiet and rarely bored, he did not play etek with various patterns of rhythm (gondang), which played in the regular music gordang sambilan, at a time to play and practice to improve the game.



Pattern Rhythmic of Gordang Sambilan


Gondang (music repertoire), which played in the performing arts gordang sambilan is not known so many. In Pakantan, there are three general gondang, which played the sarama datu, sarama babiat and pamulihon. In other areas, such as Huta Pungkut Tamiang, and found that some gondang roba na mosok, sampuara batu magulang, paturun sibaso, and some taken from ensemble music gondang tortor (gondang boru) as well as gondang tua, which has a pattern and rhythm of buildings different. While the names of gondang, which previously has called the scansion to be relatively exactly the same, except the speed (tempo) are different. (see Rizaldi Siagian, “Gordang Sambilan: Ensambel Musik Adat Orang Mandailing di Tapanuli Selatan,” paper in Temu Wicara Etnomusikologi II Surakarta, 1986:84). That can be added at the Ulu Pungkut there is one name gondang, called aek magodang, who deliberately created to honor the event a settlement called mayup mompang in the past.


According to ethnomusicolog Rizaldi Siagian, “Basically the key to building a rhythm gondang types is located at the top of the fusion rhythm that was built by the pair hudong-kudong, panduai, and patolu (particularly in Pakantan). Meanwhile, families who have a gong order rhythmic figured ostinato act of driving meter its. The rind as the leader in ensemble unify the entire building with the rhythmic patterns and variations-rhythmic that appear from the ability of the players in the improvisation. Pattern or a short rhythm motifs and repeated the phrase to couplet-phrase that led listeners feel the “tension”. The atmosphere is not left drag, but was brought to a resolution which directed the fall with the same wallop gong (downbeat). Feel sick, nauseated, using the paddle made of bamboo that is, providing a reaction against the “tension” created rhythmic hide this (Ibid, p.84-85).


In the game gordang sambilan, the formation of the building process begins with a rhythm play-not a quarter (see example 1) in unison by all the players gordang. Then it evolved into a wallop rhythmic eighth multiplier (see example 2). At this level, rhythmic patolu in the form of the raw materials. The patolu next task is to maintain a constant tempo, to provide accents (pressure) falls hard on the gong (the first rap), knocking the second, third and knocking. In the fourth beat, patolu only impose mild wallop to the surface of the skin gordang, or break (see examples 3). When patolu to the rhythm pattern that is raw, rhythm hudong-kudong or panduai developed on multiple levels rhythmic credits from third base. With the group itself is not played much more closely (not sixteen groups, see example 4). Here, the second pair to share work with gordang ways: hudong-kudong hitting two nearest not with the accent on the beat “first” of the four groups, and not rest on the third section (see example 5). In this cooperation, panduai start knocking on wallop its from hudong kudong second-and brunt of the second panduai given accents. Thus, when the rest hudong-kudong filled with the brunt of the second panduai (see example 6). When the note hand movement is the second players, it can be seen that at certain time one of the hands of both players will fall on the same wallop. Rhythmic combination of the three pairs gordang (hudong-kudong, panduai and patolu) is the motor in building a rhythm pattern of raw materials (basic) on the gordang sambilan games (Ibid, p.85-86).


When building a rhythm is more circumspect note will show the structure so complex and can lead to various interpretations. One structure is the metric that appear hemiola, or “three-meter-four opponent” (in one bar there 3 and 4 meters). In the three groups of four sixteen not, there are four groups of three-sixteen not (see example 7). This is caused by the shifting location of accents that continually “moving” from the pair hudong-kudong and panduai in three groups throughout the four-sixteen is not. When the second pair gordang this, the rhythmic, irrespective relationship with patulu, the effect of the metrics that are caused by the order of four metric triplet (see examples 8). Patolu itself seems not to move with care meters four (4/4), by maintaining the accent on the beat accents-one, two and three in the duple rhythm and continue (or break) with a wallop weak in the fourth beat. Making cycle metrics between patolu on the one hand, and hudong-kudong and panduai, on the other hand, are different. Patolu flows with four knocking duple (in metric 4/4, of gondang is in metric), with a wallop unnerving knocking on the fourth, while hudong kudong three- knocking in a cycle that is in the bar 4/4. The interest in the “meter ¾” there is another meter (4), which picked up from the second movement accents gordang this tide. Thus, for hudong-kudong and panduai, to return to the cycle of the “right” (which coincides with the fall knocking the first of patolu and gong) must travel through time knocking the twelve in 3 bars in 4/4 meter (Ibid, p.86-87).


In the game ensemble gordang sambilan, which is the lead partner gordang the most, namely skin (made from buffalo skin). Players given the degree panjangati is usually pargordang (“musician”) and who are able to control the pattern rhythmic each instrument in ensemble gordang sambilan. Panjangati (master of drums) have this sense of rhythmic very high. Motives development from the rhythm pattern instruments that are in ensemble gordang sambilan. Even the type of rhythm, for example taken from hudong-kudong or patolu, but with accent on giving a different place, the effect of “tension” the other. In the resolve “tension” rhythmic there is a unique rhythm motive, namely play groups with four-sixteen not, in a way not rest on the first and third (see examples 9), and finishes on tap the following. Before the “motives resolution” usually there are other motives, namely the two groups duple not played with a haymaker pressure on the offbeat, while pounding breakdown in the (downbeat) was beaten with the pressure of the weak and even break at all (see examples 10) . Merging the two forms of motive is to create “phrase cadence” (see examples 11), which is very typical game from the rind and ended with a wallop along with the fall of a chest thump ogung boru-boru (see examples 12). The phrase has a typical limit of elongation certain; rarely played more than one round gong. Generally, starting from knocking on the offbeat “third” (during the fall brunt ogung jantan), or on the beat “second” (see examples 13). Gordang the most in the small Pakantan, namely, nauseated (“children”) duty to provide reaction to the skin. Rhythm patterns from the raw-nauseated group is not a four-sixteen (see examples 14), with the beginning or end wallop is located in the fall of knocking “a” and “three”. In the face of reaction skin, feel sick, nauseated sometimes do rhythmic imitation of the rind. Sometimes even with the “naughty” relationship it’s metric irrespective of the overall relationship rhythm. The definition of the word “naughty” here to show freedom nauseated-play with the rhythm pattern. Facts show that the other players also did not feel upset or angry when a rhythm pattern nauseated exit-point metric rhythmic or existing (Ibid, p. 91).


According to Rizaldi Siagian, the family gong neutralize and reinforce the form of meters on the types of gondang on the ensemble gordang sambilan. Ogung boru chest and cooperate in shaping the stress it’s metric. In the transcript ogung boru placed on the chest pounding “first”, while ogung boru knocking on the “third”. Value duration not ogung each half is not. Each ogung sometimes take control of this one-meter lap, with a value that is not the full duration; doal the case with other, calling each a role in knocking meters 4/4. Thus, knocking on second and third doal provide alternation between the gong sounds in the chest and gong boru (Ibid).


Rhythm patterns family mongmongan different huta by Pakantan between Huta Pungkut and Tamiang. Pakantan mongmongan in the family (especially panolongi and panduai) share a rhythm with a long phrase one lap gong (see examples 15). The pamulusi provide rhythms variations in the midst of a rhythm pattern pair panolongi and panduai start with a thump on the first position in the offbeat rap “fourth” (see examples 16), or by adding extra wallop on the beat “third” (see examples 17). Interlocking techniques in the family mongmongan this creates the impression melodic ostinato in the overall sound of musical ensemble gordang sambilan. Not the same as in Pakantan, the interlocking techniques epong-epong (family mongmongan) in Huta Pungkut, Tamiang and divide groups of four-pity not to six in two parts. Epong-epong the two can not play one on sixteen knock down (downbeat), while playing partner motives ritem start with the same wallop on the offbeat (see examples 18). In Huta Pungkut and Tamiang, mongmongan have two rhythm patterns that can be used in the entire building rhythm. First, with similar patterns in doal Pakantan (see examples 19). Second, give syncopation on every beat in the it’s meter (see examples 20). Gordang sambilan in the game, which has a pair of cymbal crack and sonorous called sasayat or sasayap effect “unify” (in Mandailing called domu) the overall sound of the instrument. Sasayat rope rhythm patterns, especially when playes is very experienced, oriented in the pattern found in the family mongmongan and arranged with the approach that tends to be improvisation. Like pattern is essentially a combination of not-duple with the variation of accents echoic mongmongan (Ibid, p.89-90).



The uniqueness of Gordang Sambilan

Gordang sambilan discussion that is not holistic and comprehensive in writing this because, among other documents or very limited data and experience on the subject, the first-more “traditional art world” (ethnomusicology) has been long enough “abandoned” because the author has long since work with other science disciplines. In addition, although the author is Mandailing citizens, but not someone who is “normal” and “can” play gordang sambilan.


Rizaldi Siagian said that there gordang sambilan in the game, there are the names of gondang (rhythm) is different, the pace has relatively the same except the speed (tempo) are as different in Pakantan, Tamiang and Huta Pungkut. The same is also found in Ulu Pungkut. In this region there is also the name of gondang called roba na mosok and sampuara batu magulang, but other than that, there are also mesmerizing udan potir. Related problems tempo (fast-slow a pace), as long as the author of only two: ipas (fast) and erer (slow). From the point of material it’s, gordang sambilan is a percussion instrument that is relatively large when compared with other percussion instruments in the world, while in terms of music arrangement also with the unique style ostinato and interlocking ( “rhythmic division and density”).


In some huta, there are names gordang different and the number also varies. Gordang called jangat, in Pakantan only two, while in other huta generally three. It is quite another “tickle” is gordang named udong-kudong. In general, in every huta there two, while in Tombang Bustak 4 gordang (udong sada 2 gordang, udong dua and udong tolu as much as 1 gordang). So also the case with the naming of the smallest gordang: eneng-eneng (Tamiang, Ulu Pungkut, Manambin, Gunungtua-Muarasoro), enek-enek (Pakantan, Singengu, Sayurmaincat, Simpang Tolang, mines), teke-teke (Huta Pungkut), tepe -tepe (Maga, Panyabungan, Gunungtua Muarasoro, Siabu), and jogo-jogo (Tombang Bustak). These may be the reflection of the level democracy the relatively high in the Mandailing community.


In its development, then, not closed the possibility of differences in patterns of rhythm in the game gordang sambilan between huta, and also forms of variations. Therefore, efforts are still needed documentation of the gordang sambilan music in some huta, either audio or audio-visual, and then to transcription and analyzed in order to find a style of game performance gordang sambilan in each huta. In Ulu Pungkut for example, the game begins with gordang sambilan strike groups gong (mongmongan), while in Tamiang and Huta Pungkut beginning with the beating gordang that followed gong groups and cymbals. According to some of my informants, including Z. Pangaduan Lubis, gordang sambilan before the game begins with the beating nio-nio (doal) as the opener (grantor command), and after that followed udong-kudong, paniga, panulus, eneng-eneng, gong groups and symble. After all domu (solid), the panjangati (master of drums) gordang play with style, which is quite typical: “energetic, strong and dignified”, so the audience into wonder and dazzled. ***


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