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Musical Journeys in Sumatra$
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Margaret Kartomi

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036712

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036712.001.0001

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“Only if a Man Can Kill a Buffalo With One Blow Can He Play a Rapa’I Pasè

“Only if a Man Can Kill a Buffalo With One Blow Can He Play a Rapa’I Pasè

The Frame Drum as a Symbol of Male Identity

(p.316) 13 “Only if a Man Can Kill a Buffalo With One Blow Can He Play a Rapa’I Pasè
Musical Journeys in Sumatra

Margaret Kartomi

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines how the ergology and morphology of the variants of the rapa'i Pasè, the largest kind of frame drum in Aceh, relate to its performance practice, the genres in which it is used, the cultural memory, and the sense of Acehnese cultural identity among its makers, performers, and audiences. The rapa'i Pasè was traditionally played in ensembles with the singing of improvised texts at lifecycle and religious feasts and in intervillage competitions. It is said that only a man who can kill a buffalo with one sharp blow can play a rapa'i Pasè. This chapter first considers the defining and distinctive elements of Acehnese identity in its connection to rapa'i before discussing the loss of thousands of rapa'i Pasè during Aceh's armed conflict of 1976–2005. It also describes the attempts by Indonesian governments to appropriate, secularize, and aestheticize rapa'i and other forms of the traditional arts, as well as the various elite and nonelite views of identity.

Keywords:   ergology, morphology, rapa'i Pasè, frame drum, Aceh, performance practice, cultural memory, cultural identity, Acehnese identity, traditional arts

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