The rebana of Salawat Brahi.
From Sri Hastanto's Collection
Salawat Brahi is found in Cirebon (West Java Province). It was one among some hundred kinds of Islamic music in Indonesia called salawat. Salawat Brahi, however, is extraordinary salawat since this is not performed by a group of artists nor musicians but all members of the society of Islam, Sunan Gunungjati: men, women, old, young, even children who gather and perform this salawat as part of their religious ritual. The music is basically vocal accompanied by simple rhythm of rebana (one- headed drum)and kendang (two-headed drum).
Bayalangu, Cirebon (one of regions in West Java province)
Sunan Gunungjati, one of wali (Islam disseminator in the former time), is very popular in the region of Cirebon. The people of Bayalangu village are believed to be descendants of the wali. They have their own Islamic religious ritual using Salawat Brahi as a part of the ceremony. Salawat is a praise to the prophet Mohammed that can be sung or just recited. In Salawat Brahi the praise is sung using Arab language and also Javanese-Cirebon language.
The performance starts at 9.00 p.m. All members of the sect, around 50 people (men, women and children), sit together in a special house or in a cemetery where Sunan Gunungjati and his descendants are buried. They also bring some offerings that are placed around their area. One of the leaders of this sect (male)begins to sing an introduction passage and is followed by another leader (woman)singing the same passage with a kind of canon technique. After a while the congregation join together and form a chorus. The melodic sentences change from free rhythm becoming metrical. The children also sing along with their parents. When the rhythm has been established, the kendang and rebana are played in a simple interlocking pattern.
When the song comes to its climax the people seem to be unconscious. They are singing and clapping their hands in certain places. From the beginning until the end of a song, the chorus, drums, hand clapping, and voice of night insects build a magical atmosphere.
Directorate for the Arts, Directorate General for Culture, Department of National Education, Republic of Indonesia.
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