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Rebana Biang

Mother of the Rebana (one-headed drum)


Rebana Biang and tambourine
From Sri Hastanto's Collection

There are three rebana in the ensemble of Rebana Biang, all of which are tuned differently. The vast interlocking patterns of the three rebana build a kind of melodic sentence. While the musicians play the very difficult rhythm they also sing a song using Arabic language. The music is usually used as part of wedding and also circumcision ceremonies.

Reasons for selection

Rebana Biang is an extraordinary music ensemble. It consists of only three rebana (one-headed drum)but may produce very complicated melodic passages. This is one kind of traditional Betawi music that still exists in Jakarta. The numbers of groups, however, are very limited. It is worth being introduced since in terms of musical value Rebana Biang has a special way of playing.

Area where performed

Betawi (ancient Jakarta)

Essential elements of the performing art

Music, Dance

Detailed explanation

Rebana Biang is one kind of traditional music belonging to Betawi (Jakarta in the former times)society. There are several rebana music in Betawi each of which has its speciality. Rebana Biang is the unique one since its technique of playing the rebana differs from other rebana music. Most rebana music plays interlocking patterns or in unison that does not make any melody. Rebana Biang, however, plays many different rhythms also build melodic sentences using the combination of the sound of three rebana that are tuned differently. In this way of playing each rebana produces one tone (note)and links with the each others. The tempo is so fast that it needs virtuosity of each player.

The ensemble consists of three different sizes of rebana and one tambourine. The largest rebana has a diameter of around 75 cm, and the smallest is around 50 cm. The players not only play their rebana in a very complicated rhythm and tempo, but also sing a song in Arabic language since this music is influenced by Islamic music. The melody of the vocal part then is similar to Middle East music. In addition to the instrumentalist there are also two other players who add the sound colour by hand clapping.

In former times this music was used as part of celebration, a wedding ceremony or other traditional ceremonial event in the society, and also to accompany Pencak dance (self defense dance). Nowadays this rebana music is more used as musical presentation on very rare occasions.

Publication and textual documentation

already available

Audio documentation

very limited (for example purposes only)

Visual documentation

very limited (for example purposes only)

Institution/organisation involved in preservation and promotion

Directorate for the Arts, Directorate General for Culture, Department of National Education.

Data provider

Dr. Sri Hastanto
Director for the Arts
Directorate for the Arts, Directorate General for Culture, Department of National Education
Address: Gedung E Lantai-9 Komplek Depdikbud, Jalan Jenderal Sudirman, Senayan, Jakarta, Indonesia