West Sumatran Talempong

8 Nov

Padang Panjang talempong

The final night of Performing Indonesia was an eclectic demonstration of traditional music, dance and folk theater from West Sumatra. The Professional Ensemble of the Indonesian Institute of the Arts at Padang Panjang began with a gamelan variation called talempong, consisting of small brass kettle gongs that sit horizontally in a frame, two hanging gongs and hand drums.

These guys really know how to build up a song! These melodies are pretty simple, but they steadily intensify until a sudden, pulsating conclusion. (Yow!) I especially like the slow vocal intro to this, like an Indonesian doo-wop:

The rest of the night mixed up the talempong with some double reed flute, electric bass and a zither. Two young girls did an impressive plate-balancing act. There was some cross-dressing, some comedy bits (which I couldn’t understand but laughed anyway because it was still fun), some sword fighting, some wrestling, a lot of “Stomp”-style dancing using percussive pants.

In a mind-boggling finale, the men did another plate-balancing dance, and then began smashing the plates with their bare feet. Jumping up and down on shards of china! Rolling around in this pile of shards shirtless! A guy took a handful and rubbed it all over his face! (See the remnants above?) It was wild.

Thus concludes my coverage of Performing Indonesia. So thankful to the embassy and the Smithsonian for hosting this inspiring event!

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2 Responses to “West Sumatran Talempong”

  1. kennethahough November 8, 2013 at 2:11 am #

    We are both listening on headphones and enjoying. Love your posts.

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  1. The Comic Con of Gamelan | Adventures in Audio - November 9, 2013

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