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Minggu, 29 Agustus 2010

Gambus (Qanbus)





Apakah Gambus itu?

Gambus masuk dalam kategori alat musik Chordophone (alat musik yang sumber bunyinya dari getaran dawai). Gambus adalah alat musik berdawai yang dimainkan dengan cara dipetik. seperti jenis kecapi berleher pendek dan tidak memiliki fret Dilihat dari bentuknya,alat ini memiliki visual yang unik yaitu tabung resonator gambus yang berbentuk membulat, seperti buah pir yang dibelah dua. Gambus dibuat dari satu potong kayu utuh yang diberi cekungan sampai benar-benar tipis dan ringan.Semakin tipis maka semakin baik pula getaran yang dihasilkan.Ketipisan badan gambus sangat berpengaruh dengan baik tidaknya suara yang dihasilkan gambus.
Suara Gambus yang khas dihasilkan oleh resonansi yang unik pula. Senar gambus dipasang melintang dari ujung bawah badan instrument sampai dengan peg Senar bertumpu diatas bridge yang diletakkan diatas kulit yang diregangkan dan berfungsi sebagai sound board. soundboard gambus tidak terbuat dari dari kayu namun justru dari kulit hewan, seperti domba dll, yang telah di bersihkan dari bulunya. Kulit dipasang pada badan gambus dengan cara dipaku dengan paku yang kecil. Jumlah senar pada gambus yang paling lazim dijumpai amat berkisar antara 5-7 senar. Pada awalnya senar terbuat dari usus binatang yang disebut gut.

asal-usul gambus

Gambus berasal dari semenanjung arab tepatnya Yaman (Sekarang republik Yaman.Republik Yaman adalah sebuah negara di Jazirah (semenanjung besar)Arab di Asia Barat Daya, bagian dari Timur Tengah. Yaman berbatasan dengan Laut Arab di sebelah selatan, Teluk Aden dan Laut Merah di sebelah barat, Oman di sebelah timur dan Arab Saudi di sebelah utara.Luas negara ini sekitar 530.000 km2 dan wilayahnya meliputi lebih dari 200 pulau. Pulau terbesarnya, Sokotra, terletak sekitar 415 kilometer dari selatan Yaman, di lepas pantai Somalia.
Dahulu Yaman adalah salah satu provinsi Kekaisaran Ottoman.seiring dengan berakhirnya Perang Dunia I (1918), Ottomans kehilangan kontrol pada Yaman Utara dan Imam Yahya pun memproklamasikan kemerdekaan negerinya sebagai negara merdeka bernama Kerajaan Yaman dengan dirinya sendiri yaitu Yahya bin Muhammad sebagai penguasa dan Raja Yaman wilayah Utara. Pada tahun 1962 sistem pemerintahan di Yaman mengalamu perubahan, begitu pula dengan nama negara pun menjadi Republik Arab Yaman. Beberapa waktu kemudian pada 22 Mei 1990 Negara ini bersatu dengan Yaman Selatan untuk membentuk Republik Yaman.
Daerah-daerah penting di Yaman
1. Sanaá (sana’a)
Sana’a adalah ibu kota negara Republik Yaman dan juga merupakan kota terbesarnya. Berada di ketinggian 2.220 mdpl, dikelilingi pegunungan Jabal Nuqum dan Aiban. Suhu ekstrem terendah -3 derajat Celcius, tertinggi 34 derajat Celsius, Sana’a merupakan kota tua peninggalan dinasti Saba yang eksis pada abad 6 sebelum Masehi. Nama Sana’a dalam bahasa Yaman kuno berarti tenaga, kekuatan dan benteng. Sana’a memiliki beberapa Situs bersejarah antara lain:
a) Old City Sana’a
Old City (Kota Tua} yang telah dihuni sejak lebih dari 2.500 tahun ini telah dinyatakan sebagai salah satu Warisan Dunia UNESCO pada tahun 1986. Tempat ini arsitektur bangunannya sangat khas, serba kotak dengan sudutsudut atap lancip. Warna umumnya cokelat, kelabu, putih dengan ketinggian bangunan umumnya 6-9 meter. Komplek kuno ini terdiri dari 100 mesjid, 12 pemandian, dan 6.500 rumah.

b) Masjid Agung Al Jamiah al-Kabir Jami’ Sana’a
Masjid Agung Sana’a adalah salah satu masjid agung yang paling penting di Yaman, tidak hanya di Yaman tetapi di seluruh dunia Islam. Sebab bangunan bersejarah ini diyakini dibangun selama kehidupan Nabi Muhammad SAW pada tahun 6 H. Maka dengan ini Masjid Agung Sana’a merupakan masjid paling awal yang dibangun dalam sejarah Islam setelah Masjid Quba’ dan nabi Masjid Nabawi di Madinah.

c) Pintu Gerbang Babul Yaman
Bagian menonjol dari Old City Sana’a adalah Bab Al Yemen, atau Gerbang Yaman yang berusia kurang lebih 1.000 tahun

d) Ghurqat Al-Qalis (Ka’bah Abrahah)


2. Aden
adalah sebuah kota di Yaman , 170 kilometer timur Bab-el-Mandeb Aden merupakan sebuah pelabuhan alami, terbuat dari semenanjung gunung berapi dan pertama kali digunakan oleh Kerajaan Awsan kuno antara abad ke-5 SM dan ke-7 SM. Aden terdiri dari beberapa kota kecil: kota pelabuhan, kota industri dikenal dengan "Little Aden" dengan kilang minyak besarnya, dan Madinat ash-Sha'b, pusat pemerintahan.

3. Hadramaut
Hadramaut, ("Hadhrmawt") atau Havermavt (Bahasa Ibrani) adalah sebuah lembah di negeri Yaman. Lembah ini cukup subur untuk ukuran negeri Yaman yang umumnya padang pasir tandus. Dalam Alkitab (Kejadian:10-26-28) ia disebut sebagai "Hazarmaveth". Hadramaut merupakan negeri asal dan tempat tinggal Nabi Hud dan Saleh. Awal mula nama ini masih menjadi perdebatan. Sebagian kelompok mengambil kisah orang-orang Yunani yang menemukan air di lembah tandus Arabia dan kemudian menamakannya dengan Hydreumata atau sumber air. Sementara sebagian yang lain mengambil kisah orang-orang Arab kuno, dari zaman sebelum orang-orang Yunani mencapai lembah Arabia. Alkisah, dahulu kala Lembah Arabia merupakan tempat orang-orang barbar yang suka berperang dan saling membunuh. Kisah kejantanan dan keperkasaan mereka dalam perang selalu mereka banggakan dan mereka luapkan dalam bentuk puisi, sya'ir dan juga memberi pujian kepada pahlawan-pahlawan dari suku-suku dan kabilah mereka masing-masing. Pada waktu itu di bagian selatan lembah Arabia (Hadramaut) tinggal seseorang yang paling ditakuti oleh semua keluarga, bani, suku dan kabilah di seluruh arab. Orang tersebut bernama Amir Bin Qahtan, dia ditakuti karena keberaniannya, kejeliannya dan keperkasaannya. Setiap kali Amir Bin Qahtan berpartisipasi dalam sebuah perang maka tempat tersebut akan berubah menjadi lembah kematian. Karena itulah suku-suku Arab pada waktu itu menamai tempat Amir Bin Qahtan tinggal sebagai hadhramout yang berarti Hadhra=hadir mout=kematian yaitu di mana Amir Bin Qahtan berada, di situ pula kematian hadir bersamanya.
Pada masa pasca-Muhammad, kebanyakan dari mereka memeluk Islam dan menjadi penyebar agama Islam, pedagang dan petualang yang menghubungkan antara bagian timur benua Afrika (Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea) dengan bagian selatan benua Asia (India, Indonesia); dengan demikian menjadi pelaku Jalur Sutera laut.
Kebanyakan dari mereka berdagang dengan mengikuti arah angin barat dan timur. Hal inilah yang memaksa mereka menunggu selama beberapa bulan sebelum mereka kembali ke kampung halaman mereka. Selama masa penungguan inilah interaksi antara mereka dengan penduduk asli terjadi. Sebagian di antara para pedagang itu berdakwah dan juga menikahi gadis-gadis pribumi dan kebanyakan dari mereka menetap di sana.
Sebagian besar kaum keturunan Arab di Indonesia umumnya berasal dari wilayah ini. Ini dapat ditelusuri dari nama-nama marga mereka, seperti Alaydrous, Badjubier, Bawazier, Al Khered ,AlKaff , Al Attas, Al Kathiri, Bin zagr, Sungkar,Al Habsyi, dan lain sebagainya. tempat penting di sana'a antara lain:

a) Tarim


gambus melayu


PADA mulanya, zapin, bukanlah merupakan genre musik, tetapi dikenal sebagai tari. Menurut cerita lisan seorang pemusik biola, Sarkam, di Siak Sri Indrapura, zapin berasal dari kata ‘’langkah kaki’’, yakni berasal dari bahasa Arab, zafin (langkah, melangkah), zaf (alat petik berdawai 12), dan al-zafn (mengambil langkah atau mengangkat satu kaki). Pada waktu itu zapin hanya ditarikan di istana raja, di rumah tengku-tengku, keturunan bangsawan, dan kerabat kerajaan atau pejabat-pejabat tinggi kerajaan. Setelah berakhirnya abad kerajaan Siak, barulah zapin ditarikan di luar istana dan kemudian berkembang hingga ke masa kini. Jika dilihat dari alat musik (instrument) yang dipakai pada tari zapin ini atau dai maqan (maqam) melodi lagunya, tidak dapat dipungkiri bahwa kesenian ini berasal dari Timur-Tengah. Bahwa, para peneliti sepakat mengatakan zapin dibawa oleh para pedagang-pedagang beragama Islam dari Semenanjung Arabi, Persia, Gujarat dan India. Hal ini dapat ditandai dari perkembangannya di Nusantara, terutama umumnya suku Melayu di kawasan pesisir dengan berbagai-bagai nama tempatan, seperti kata zapin di Riau, Malaysia dan Deli, dana-sarah di Jambi, bedara di Lampung, zafin di Jawa pesisir dan Madura, jepin atau jepen di Kalimantan, Sulawesi dan Maluku, dana-dani di Nusa Tenggara. Zapin di pesisir Jawa, Madura, dan Nusa Tenggara hanya dikenal pada masyarakat keturunan Arab.

Musik (istilah Melayu: bunyi-bunyian) pengiring tari zapin tradisional ini terdiri dari alat-musik: sebuah gambus yang disebut dengan gambus selodang, dan beberapa buah gendang.

Gambus Selodang

Gambus zapin Melayu ini adalah alat-musik menyerupai ud (oud) di Timur Tengah berbentuk seludang kelapa yang dibuat dari batang nangka. Pada tengah-tengah resonator-nya ditutup dengan kulit sapi, kerbau atau kulit kambing yang sudah diraut tipis. Junlah dawai gambus selodang ini adalah 7 (tujuh) yang semuanya disetel berpasangan kecuali senar paling atas (nada paling rendah) batang petikan, tetapi pada akhir-akhir ini ada kemungkinan bertambah menjadi 9 (sembilan) atau 11 (sebelas), seperti pada ud Arab.

Pada mulanya dawai ud Arab dibuat dari usus binatang (gut) atau dari sutera yang pernah dikerjakan oleh orang Persia-Perbatasan Cina, tetapi senar ud awal ini telah digantikan oleh nilon. Sedangkan gambus selodang sekarang ini dipakai dawai gitar atau juga tali nilon. Penyetelan dawai biasanya menggunakan nada C atau D untuk senar kesatu, yakni ADGC atau BEAD, dengan masing-masing jarak 2 ½ nada, yaitu interval jarak dari nada awal menuju ke bawah (makin rendag), disebut kwart murni. Pemetik awal dipakai dari tanduk yang diraut sehingga fleksibel ketika dimainkan dengan tangan kanan. Orang Arab menamakan pemetik atau pemeting gambus ini dengan risha, dan mizrap oleh orang Turki. Biasa juga digunakan bahan dari plastik, map, atau juga sekarang dipakai pemetik gitar yang agak lembut.

Ud kemungkinan berasal dari Persia, yang merupakan alat-musik keemasan bangsa Arab. Sedangkan gambus selodang, biarpun asal-muasalnya dari Timur Tengah juga, tetapi sudah merupakan milik orang Melayu.

Menurut cerita mitos yang didapat oleh Sarkam dari Wan Syeikh Ali, berasal dari Nabi Daud, yang meniru betis perempuan (isterinya) yang terlihat ketika sedang menari di depan Daud. Kepala gambus disebut dengan istilah tapak-kuda atau merupakan telapak kaki perempuan, sedangkan badan gambus yang berfungsi sebagai resonator berasal dari meniru betis perempuan.

Marwas

Marwas, atau disebut juga dengan meruas, merwas, adalah alat-musik jenis gendang yang sangat berfungsi dan berarti sebagai pengatur tempo atau rentak. Dalam satu ensembel musik zapin biasanya memakai tiga marwas dan sebanyak-banyak tidak ditentukan. Sebagai pengatur tempo alat musik marwas yang dalam kebudayaan Melayu digunakan untuk mengiringi tari zapin bersamaan dengan alat musik gambus selodang yang disebut dengan ‘ud di Semenanjung Arabia. Jika dilihat dari sejarah awalnya, musik rentak ini berasal dari kawasan Timu-Tengah, tepatnya Quwait dengan istilah tempo atau rentak iramanya disebut dengan quwati.

Bentuk alat musik perkusi marwas ini terdiri dari dua muka. Bahan yang dipergunakan untuk membuat badan marwas atau gendang zapin yang berfungsi sebagai resonator umumnya dibuat dari batang kayu cempedak, ciku, atau durian, dengan diameter lebih-kurang 15 hingga 20 sentimeter. Penutup kulit badan marwas terbuat dari kulit kambing atau kulit sapi yang ditipiskan, diikat dengan tali rotan, tali kambing, atau talu yang terbuat dari kulit sapi, pada lingkaran penarik yang dilingkar dengan kawat pada kedua permukaannya. pengikat berfungsi untuk menegangkan (menyetel) antara dua permukaan sehingga menimbulkan bunyi yang dikehendaki. Sekarang pengikat ini dibuat tali nilon. Sebagai pegangan untuk tangan kiri ditaruh tali yang sedapat mungkin tidak membuat jari-jari sakit, biasanya jenis tali yang terbuat dari bahan yang lembut seperti bahan kain atau sumbu kompor. Alat musik merwas termasuk ke dalam klasifikasi alat musik membranofon (sumber bunyi selaput atau kulit) dua sisi, yang dipukul dengan dua telapak tangan pemainnya. Jadi, bahan untuk membuat marwas terdiri dari: (1) batang pohon cempedak, ciku, atau durian yang berfungsi sebagai badan marwas; (2) kulit kambing yang berfungsi sebagai membran; (3) rotan, tali yang terbuat dari kulit sapi atau kambing, atau tali nilon, yang berfungsi sebagai pengikat antara membran muka satu dengan muka dua; (4) tali yang terbuat dari kain atau sumbu kompor, yang berfungsi sebagai pemegang marwas untuk ibu jari tangan kiri.

Tempo atau rentak zapin Melayu memakai 4 (empat) ketukan dasar setuap beat-nya. Pola ritme dasar pukulan 1 (pertamanya) jatuh di down beat pada onomatopeik tung, sedangkan pada ketukan dasar 2 (kedua), 3 (ketiga), dan 4 (Keempat) masing-masing pada pukulan up beat onomatopeik tak, tung, dan pak. Masing-masing pada ukuran pemain marwas 1 (satu), 2 (dua), 3 (tiga), dst-nya memberikan variasi atau inprovisasi. Pada saat tertentu intensitas bunyi dilemahkan, dan pada saat yang lain dikuatkan. pemain marwas 1 ( satu) sebagai pola ritme dasar yang disebut juga dengan penyelalu. Pemain marwas 2 (dua) dan 3 (tiga) peningkah marwas 2 (dua), dan seterusnya. Rentak dengan intensitas yang dikuatkan disebut dengan tahtum/tahto atau santing. Tahtum/tahto atau santing berbunyi dengan suara pak.

Bunyi marwas tung dihasilkan dengan cara memukul jari telunjuk kanan ke membran sebelah atas, antara tepi dan tengah merwas, sementara jari-jari tangan kiri yang sebelah membran bawah dibuka untuk menimbulkan suara tung yang jelas.

Bunyi marwas tak dihasilkan dengan cara memukul satu ata dua jari telunjuk dan jari tengah, atau jari telunjuk saja ke membran sebelah atas pada sisi tepi merwas, sementara jari-jari tangan kiri yang sebelah membran bawah dirapatkan dengan membran.

Bunyi merwas pak dihasilkan dengan cara memukul seluruh jari tangan kanan ke membran sebelah atas antara sisi tepi hingga ke sisi tengah membran. Separuh dari telapak tangan kanan berada di sebelah luar membran merwas dan separuhnya lagi beserta seluruh jari tangan kanan berada di sisi tepi hingga sisi tengah merwas. Ketika tangan kanan ini sampai ke membran sebelah atas merwas ujung-ujung jari diangkat sedikit ke atas sehingga menimbulkan bunyi pak yang jelas dan yang dikehendaki sesuai dengan tekniknya sehingga tidak menimbulkan rasa sakit pada tangan kanan.

Rentak zapin dari dasar bunyi marwas dalam musik tari zapin terdiri dari pola ritme pukulan marwas yang terdiri dari motif satu bar (birma) yang dibunyikan berulang-ulang, bertempo agak cepat yaitu dengan metronome sekitar 80-120 ketukan dalam satu menit (M.M.=80-120), dan susunan durasi not seperempat, dan not seperdelapan. Dalam satu siklus terdiridari 4 ketukan, dengan warna bunyi tung, tak, dan pak; yang dinomisasi dengan aksen bunyi tak dan tung.



Langkah-langkah Rentak dan Melodi Iringan Tari Zapin Tradisi
Langkah-langkah kaki menari zapin dimulai dari Selo Sembah yaitu sebagai penghormatan kalau menari di depan raja. Selo Sembah ini dimulai dari melodi lagu solo gambus selodang yang akan dinyanyikan, biasanya oleh pemain gambus itu sendiri.

Berikutnya, ketika pemain gambus memulai lagu, yang biasanya dari vokal bait pertama yang ditingkah dengan marwas, maka penari zapin mulai melangkah dari alif satu, yaitu sut tiga kali ke depan, sut di tengah satu sebanyak lima kali yang disebut dengan permulaan menari; maknanya sebagai lambang dari rukun Islam ke Lima. Seterusnya alif dua dengan langkah sut depan dua kali dan sut tengah satu kali sebanyak dua kali yang disebut dengan awal menari atau minta izin menari; artinya sebagai lambang dari dua kitab suci, Al-Quran dan Hadist. Zapin tradisional Siak yang berasal dari istana umumnya ‘’menggenggam tangan kiri’’ ketika menari zapin, maknanya memegang amanah allah, yaitu Muhammad memegang amanah dari Allah. Tangan kanan biasanya melenggang sesuai dengan irama langkah kaki. selain menggenggam tangan kiri sebagai cirinya, zapin Siak lebih dikenal dengan genjo atau enjut-nya, seperti staccato atau synkop dalam istilah musik.

langkah (jalan) zapin yang terdiri dari 4 (empat) langkah yang melambangkan sifat rasul dari setiap geraknya. Langkah ini merupakan syariat yang bertalian dengan ruh yang menegakkannya. Setiap langkah zapin mempunyai bunga zapin. Bunga zapin ada 13 (tigabelas) gerak, yakni sebagai lambang rukun sembahyang sebanyak 13 (tigabelas), diakhiri dengan pecah lapan sut yang artinya mengakhiri mengambil air sembahyang.

Bungo Alif yaitu awal membuat bungo (bunga) terdiri dari tiga belas bungo yang setiap bungonya mengandung makna tertentu. Bungo Alif zapin yaitu bungo alif, geliat, pusing tengah, siku keluang, pusing sekerat, anak ayam patah, pecah lapan, pusing tak jadi, tongkah (melawan arus), tahto terjun, sut tiga kali depan, sut maju mundur, pecah lapan sut.

Ketika menari zapin berlangsung, lagu dinyanyikan bait per bait. Di antara bait satu lagu ke bait lainnya, penabuh marwas mengeraskan permainannya yang disebut dengan santing atau doguh, yang dalam istilah musik disebut dengan forte (dibunyikan dengan suara keras), maknanya sebagai lambang mengambil semangat atau naik syeikh bagi penari zapin.



Keterangan Partitur: garis paranada pertama adalah bunyi pak (forte), paranada kedua bunyi tak, paranada ketiga bunyi tung.

Tidak ada ketentuan berapa bait lagu dinyanyikan dalam iringan tari zapin. Apabila penari akan selesai menari, mereka akan memberi tanda untuk minta berhenti kepada pemusik atau terutama kepada pemain gambus yang disebut dengan tahto atau tahtim (sembah penutup tari), yang dalam istilah musik umum disebut dengan coda atau ending. Biasanya, kalau penari tidak memberi isyarat untuk minta berhenti, pemusik akan terus bermain, karena menurut mereka penari masih ingin terus menari. Melodi gambus untuk tahto atau tahtim ini tersendiri umumnya sama, baik lagu berbentuk scale (tangga-nada) minor maupun major. Pada waktu tahto atau tahtim ini juga penabuh marwas membuat santing dengan bunyi pak sampai akhir lagu atau tari.


Perkembangan

Tari zapin tradisional diiringi dengan lagu-lagu khusus rentak (tempo) zapin. Biasanya seperti lagu Naam Saidi, Pulut Hitam, Gambus Palembang, Tanjung Balai, Sahabat Laila, Lancang Kuning, Kak Jando, Sayang Cek Esah, Rajo Beradu, Ya Malim (zapin Bismillah), Bungo Cempako, dan lain-lain. Pemeting (pemeting) gambus, biasanya sekaligus sebagai penyanyinya. Lagu-lagu zapin umumnya memakai birama 4/4, kecuali birama 3/4 dalam zapin Ya Umar yang sudah langka dan tidak dipakai lagi, selain susah dan tidak adanya lagi penari dan penyanyi yang dapat memainkannya.
Pada mulanya, zapin tradisional (terutama di Siak dan Pekanbaru) ditarikan oleh 2 (dua) orang lelaki, dan baru kemudian berkembang setelah keluar dari istana, seperti penarinya melebihi dua orang, dan selanjutnya, tidak lagi hanya memakai penari lelaki, tetapi sudah ditarikan oleh perempuan, atau campuran laki-laki dan perempuan. Alat musik pengiringnya berkembang dengan penambahan gendang bebano dan tambur pada beat-nya, dan penambahan instrumen biola dan akordion pada melodinya, namun untuk tari zapin tradisi tetap memakai gambus selodang daan marwas.

Tempo (rentak) tari zapin dan musiknya juga sudah mengalami perkembangan dengan perubahan dari tempo sedang ke tempo cepat, dimulai sejak lebih-kurang tahun 1994, yakni ketika penulis membuat musiknya bersama Pusat Latihan Tari Laksemana, yaitu tari Ya Zapin Ya Umar, dan bersama sanggar tari Dang Merdu, hingga berkembang sampai sekarang, kreasi gerak dan musik zapin cepat ini masih dipakai. Secara nasional, seharusnya lebih diapresiasikan lagi oleh pemerhati zapinm ketika tempo dan gerak zapin cepat ini ditata pada tari pembukaan MTQ Nasional XIV 1994 yang tampak secara jelas telah mengkreasikannya dengan beat atau irama joget. Penulis termasuk yang pertama - dalam konteks ke-Riau-an - memodifikasi jenis tempo ini dari yang semula (bentuk tradisi) dari irama atau beat zapin, lalu mengambil unsur irama lain yang lebih cepat, misalkan saja irama joget, walaupun beat ini untuk kelompok-kelompok marawis di Nusantara tidaklah merupakan sesuatu yang baru lagi, apalagi dari kawasan asalnya, Timur Tengah.

Tetapi, ada hal yang lebih penting dalam pemahaman zapin sebagai unsur kebudayaan masyarakat itu sendiri. Dan lebih lagi ini perlu diperhatikan oleh lembaga pemerintah dan dunia perguruan-tinggi, khususnya perguruan-tinggi seni (misalnya, Akademi Kesenian Melayu Riau) atau lembaga yang memiliki program seni (Sendratasik UIR). Zapin tidak hanya melulu diapresiasikan sebagai aktivitas menari dan bermusik, namun juga sebagai bagian dari budaya masyarakat perlu juga dikaji atau ditelaah, baik persoalan filosofinya, juga konteks sejarah dan sosial yang melingkupinya, sehingga zapin berkembang tidak dalam keadaan latah dan gamang. Bayangkan saja, hingga perkembangannya saat ini, ada kecenderungan kita tidak peduli tentang bagaimana para tokoh dan para senimannya memperjuangkan seni ini. Hal yang semacam ini saja telah terabaikan, lalu apalagi yang lebih mendasar dari nilai yang melingkupinya itu sendiri.

Dan, kita pun telah melupakan tokoh-tokoh zapin tradisional Siak Sri Indrapura seperti Abdurrahman, Sani, Wan Dolah, Wan Syeikh Ali (ayah Wan Dolah), Cek Kunden, sebagai pemain gambus sekaligus penyanyi, Amin B dabn Sulung Nantan sebagai penari. Juga, tokoh pezapin di Pekanbaru, seperti M Sani Burhan, S Berrien, Tengku Indra Putra, Adan, dan lain-lain. Bagaimana pun mereka patut dicatat, sebagai tonggak sejarah, tokoh, seniman tari dan musik zapin; mengetengahkan suatu genre tari atau seni yang disebut dengan zapin. ***
The Transmission and Impact of the Hadhrami and Persian Lute-Type Instruments
on the Malay World
by
Larry Francis Hilarian
Musical instruments have always accompanied sea-fearers as entertainment artifacts in their
long sea voyages. Along the grain of politics, conquests and economic exploits, some of these
instruments have become identified as cultural icons amongst the communities so linked to this trade,
mercantilism and adventure. The main focus of this paper is on the transmission and adaptation of the
Hadhrami and Persian lute-type instruments commonly known as the gambus in alam melayu1
(Malay world). The gambus, although not of Malay origin, shares “kinship” ties not only with the
Hadhrami qanbus (lute) but also the European lute, Spanish guitar, Persian barbat, Greek bouzouki,
Chinese pipa, Japanese biwa and also many other Central Asia and Eastern European lute
instruments. This paper will also examine the impact and influences of Hadhrami musical and
cultural practices on the various aspects of the Malay Muslim society.
Map. 1 The Malay World, Malay Archipelago and the Austronesian Language Group
1 The term alam melayu generally refers to a territorial network of genealogically related Malay kingdoms as
shown in Map.1 The Malay World, Malay Archipelago and the Austronesian Language Group. These countries
currently include locations in Peninsular Malaysia, including Singapore, the east and southern coast of Sumatra
(Jambi, Padang, Siak, Deli, Palembang) the coastal areas of Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak (East Malaysia),
Brunei and westwards to Banjarmasin, Pontianak (south and west Kalimantan – Indonesian) and Riau Lingga
Archipelago (Indonesia) and southern Thailand.
2
The Definition of the word “Gambus” and its Ambiguity
The word “gambus” refers to two distinctive types of lute instruments found in alam
melayu.2 Both of these types are known simply as “gambus” to the Malay Muslim community
as shown in Plate (i) [a] Gambus Hadhramaut and Plate (i) [b] Gambus Melayu.3
Plate (i) [a] Gambus Hadhramaut Plate (i) [b] Gambus Melayu
However, both instruments are also known at times by other names to traditional players,
makers and the wider community.4 The gambus that looks like the classical Arabian ud can
be referred to as gambus Hadhramaut, sometimes as gambus Arab or ud. The other form of
the instrument, which is much smaller, but appears similar to the Yemeni qanbus (sometimes
2 Capwell (1995:80) describes the multiform nature of the gambus as two distinctive types of plucked lutes
bearing the same name, which are also found in Indonesia.
3 The gambus usually performed with the use of three or more marwas or kompang instruments. Marwas are
small double-headed frame-drums, which come in three sizes. Two skins on each side of the marwas cover the
instrument, which have a diameter of between 14 and 20 cm. It is laced with leather and has metal studs nailed
around its frame. Goatskin is used for the membrane and jackfruit-wood is used for the frame of the instrument.
Kompang are single-headed frame-drums and they also come in three different sizes. Their sizes could range
from 15 to 40 cm. The frame is also made from jackfruit-wood and the membrane is from goatskin and cowhide.
The marwas is used mainly in the zapin ensemble whereas the kompang is used extensively in many Malay
music genres, most importantly in Malay wedding processions and in the welcoming ceremonies (Hilarian: 2009).
4 The Hornbostel and Sachs category for these lutes would be: 321. 321 “Necked bowl lute”, a classification the
gambus Hadhramaut shares with the European lute, Greek bozouki, Chinese pipa, Arabic ud and many other
instruments. As for the gambus Melayu it can be classified under: 321.32 “Necked lutes - the handle is attached
to or curved from the resonator, like a neck”, translated by Baines and Wachmann (1961).
3
called qabus, turbi, or tarab in Yemen, shown in Plate (ii) Qanbus from Yemen5 is referred
to as the gambus Melayu.6
Plate (ii) Qanbus from Yemen
The term “gambus” when used to refer to the two types of lute instruments are still
confusing and ambiguous. The earliest western documented source that I have come across
in English, which records the word “gambus” is Sachs’ The History of Musical Instruments.7
Short lutes, carved out of a single piece of wood with no distinct neck and tapering towards
the pegbox, are found first in Iran (Persia), the same country which afterwards became their
centre; Elamic clay figures attributed to the eighth century B.C. show them in rough
outlines; the strings and their attachment are not distinguishable. …..Islam migration and
5 I am grateful to Mr. Pierre d’Herouville for this photograph.
6 Professor Christian Poche told me that the gambus Melayu is probably from the Yemeni qanbus (personal
communication: 4th July 1999) in Abbaye de Royaumont, France. The widely disseminated qanbus has various
names: gabbus [gambusi] in Zanzibar, gabbus in Oman, gabusi or gambusi in the Comoros Archipelago, gabus
in Saudi Arabia and kabosa in Madagascar. These types of skin-bellied lute instruments are also known as
kibangala or taarab in Mombasa and in the coastal areas of Kenya. Poche concluded that the term “qanbus”
derives from the root “q-n”, often found in musical vocabulary of Semitic languages. The dropping of the “n” from
“qanbus” to “qabus” has led to erroneous speculation that the word originated as a mutation of the Turkish kopuz,
(qopuz, qupuz) a long-necked lute (baglama, saz) described by Farmer (1967:209) and Sachs (1940:252). See
The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments (Poche:1984:168). Also see Poche, Musiques du Monde
Arabe (1994).
7 German ethnomusicologist Curt Sachs was probably the first European scholar to have used the word
“gambus” in his 1913 German publication of “Reallexikon der Musikinstrumente” (p.152) Georg Olm
Verlagsbuchandlung Hildesheim 1964 Nachdruck der Ausgabe, Berlin, 1913 mit Genehmigung des Verlag Max
Hesse. Later, Dutch ethnomusicologist Jaap Kunst used the word gambus in an article in 1934, describing the
gambus as a plucked pear-shaped lute. He concluded that the gambus is fairly common throughout the entire
Malay Archipelago in strict Islamic areas. Kunst described it as having seven strings: three double-strung pairs
and one low single string (1934). In another article Kunst also mentioned that its (gambus) country of origin was
the Hadhramaut region of Yemen where it is known as quopuz. This article appeared in “Two Thousand Years of
South Sumatra Reflected in its Music” (1952). Both reprints also appeared in Indonesian Music & Dance
published by The Royal Tropical Institute/Tropenmuseum University of Amsterdam/Ethnomusicology Centre
“Jaap Kunst”, (1994:170; 237).
4
conquests carried this lute eastwards from Persia as far as Celebes, [Sulawesi] and
southwards to Madagascar. In all these countries it has been called by a name probably of
Turkish origin, variously spelled as gambus, kabosa or qupuz (1940: 251-252).
Sachs claims that the word “gambus” derived from the Arabic name qobus, lute-type
instruments that are still used in Turkey, Hungary, Russia, Romania and some other places in
Europe. He mentions that in Borneo this instrument is called gambus and in Zanzibar it is
gabbus. He attributes that the instrument arrived in the Malay Archipelago as early as the
seventh century. Sachs based his theories on the sickle-shaped peg-box, tracing these types of
instruments to a kind of rebab still used in Borneo and Zanzibar (Panum: 1971).8
Sir Richard Winstedt (1960) in Kamus Bahasa Melayu (Malay Dictionary), R.J.
Wilkinson (1955) in A Malay-English Dictionary, and also in another standard edition of
Kamus Dewan (Malay Dictionary, 1998) all mentioned that the word gambus may be an
Arabic loan word in the Malay language.9 M.A.J. Beg (1982) did not mention the word
gambus in his book on Malay neologism from Turkish-Persian words but referred to the
word barbat, a type of Persian origin pear-shaped lute.10
8 The etymological links to the terms “gambus” and “viola da gamba” have been puzzling to ethnomusicologists.
The Grove Dictionary for Music and Musicians (vol: 19: 1980: 814) says that the derivative of the word gambus is
“obscure” and suggests it may have come from an Italian word to describe early European bowed-lute. However,
I would argue that the Malay, Arabic and Turkish link seems equally possible.
9 These Malay dictionaries (Kamus Bahasa Melayu and Kamus Dewan) describe the word gambus although not
quite accurately as 6 stringed lute of Arabian origin. With hindsight, the word gambus has no roots in Bahasa
Melayu. This has been confirmed by the members of the Malay Language Unit at Nanyang Technological
University/National Institute of Education, Singapore (personal communication: 1997).
10 Professor Henry Farmer states that Persian lexiconographers derived the word from bar (“breast”) and bat
(“duck”), because its shape was like the breast of a duck. He also mentioned that 11th century Arab scholar Majd
al-Din Isn al Athir (d.1210) said it was “because the player upon it places it against his breast” (1931a:95). Dr.
Jean Lambert commented that there is no historical or iconographical evidence to show how the barbat looks and
historical treatises on the barbat are not explicit enough to draw conclusions about how it may have appeared (In
a letter to me commenting on my research: December: 1999). I will argue that the depiction shown in Plate (iii [a]
Sassanian lute player) provides convincing evidence of the Persian lute barbat. The author is grateful to the
British Museum for the use of this picture.
5
Plate (iii) [a] Sassanian Lute (barbat?) A.D. 224 Plate (iii) [b] Greco-Gandhara lute A.D. 100
The Malays may have adopted the generic term gambus to refer to the Persian barbat,
the Arabian qanbus (qabus) and ud, found in alam melayu.11 The word gambus may
originally have referred to a Persian lute with a pear-shaped body, skin belly and a “C”
shaped peg-box as shown in Fig.1 “C” Shaped Pegbox.12
Fig. 1 “C” Shaped Pegbox
The Early Migration of the Hadhrami and Persian Lute-Type Instruments
11 This point about the probable Arabic word “gambus” being borrowed by the Malays to describe the Persian lute
was unanimously the opinion expressed by Malay Language specialists at Nanyang Technological
University/National Institute of Education in Singapore (personal communication: April 1997).
12 While visiting the British Museum, I came across a silver plate [see Plate (ii[a]) showing a banqueting scene
from the 3rd –7th century Sassanian Period (Persia [Iran]). This is the only evidence of the “barbat” in visual form
that I have seen (16th May 2001). The design on the plate depicted a musician playing a lute-type instrument that
looked similar to the gambus Melayu. This could also be the lute-type instrument that Farmer, During (1984) and
Zonis (1973) were referring to as the barbat from Persia. Similar lute instruments to those of the Sassanid period
were also found during the Greco-Gandhara [see Plate (ii[b]) period (c.100 A.D.) This picture of the Gandhara
lute was taken from Sachs (1940: plate IX (B):160) and Marcuse (1975: 410). These pictorial facts on the barbat
are some of the conclusive evidence, which match the documentary descriptions.
6
There are various hypothese as to how the Hadhrami-Persian lute-type instruments,
now referred to as gambus Melayu and gambus Hadhramaut, arrived in the Malay
Archipelago. Picken (1975:269) mentioned gambus in his book, Folk Musical Instruments
from Turkey, in which he states: “The name gambus (from Indonesia [alam melayu] and
gabbus (Zanzibar), applied to structurally related lutes resembling the rebab of North-west
Africa, are forms of kopuz – as Sachs recognized. …..and the disappearance of the name
kopuz from central regions of the Islamic world, indicate that transmission to Zanzibar and
Madagascar, as well as to Indonesia (Borneo), probably occurred at an early date”.
A Persian colony on the Malay Peninsula during the 5th and 6th centuries is reported
by Chinese sources. Heuken (2002:13-29) mentions that 500 hundred Persian families lived
during the 4th century in Tun-sun on the Malayan Peninsula. Gujarati (in India) and Persian
merchants created a wide network of trading posts entirely controlled by Muslim Melaka in
1414, Java and as far as Ternate (“spice” island) in the late 1460 A.D.
Mohd. Anis has attributed the arrival of gambus to the Arabs during the Islamization
of Melaka in the 15th century. The hypothesis that I am suggesting for the transmission of
gambus to the Malay Archipelago could be even much earlier than the 15th century. I am
propounding that the Persians and the Arabs were trading in the Malay Archipelago as early
as the 9th century and these instruments could have been carried on board their ships for
personal entertainment on long voyages. The barbat, qanbus and ud could have been
introduced by these traders when trading along the Malay Archipelago.13
13 To assume the claim made by Sachs that the instruments may have been introduced into the Malay
Archipelago as early as the 7th century lacks convincing historical evidence and this claim is too far-fetched
(1940). However there are tangible historiograhical sources sighting Arab/Persian trading activities to support my
hypothesis of a later arrival [see Andaya and Andaya (1982); Alatas (1985); Mohad. Taib Osman (1988); Hourani
7
The arrival of the gambus-type instruments into the Malay Archipelago may not
imply that the acceptance and indigenization of the instruments was immediate but rather
happened through a gradual process of adaptation. These instruments may have been used
only by Persian and Arab traders based in the Malay trading ports. It was probably after the
Islamization of Melaka (Fig. 2, Stage 2) that the gambus was more fully integrated into the
region, especially after the rest of the Malay World became Islamized. My schematic map in
Fig. 2 provides a diagrammatic illustration of the hypothetical historical routes of the gambus
to alam melayu.
(1995); and Hueken (2002)]. With those historical records, I am more convinced of the 9th century arrival of these
instruments rather than the 7th century.
8
Fig.2
A Historical Hypothesis of the Arrival, Development and Dissemination of Hadhrami and Persian lutetype
Instruments in alam melayu (the Malay World) from the 9th to the 20th century
9
Alatas supports the hypothesis that the presence of large Persian and Arab trading
Muslim settlements in the Malay Archipelago.14 He states that a thriving port also existed on
the west coast of the Malay Peninsular in the 9th century (named Kalah or Klang) inhabited
by Muslims from Persia and India. Kalah is in the State of Selangor where the capital Kuala
Lumpur is situated.15 It is not unreasonable to suggest that the Persians brought the barbat to
the Malay Archipelago. The question that comes to mind is whether the gambus-type
instruments come from Persia or the Arabian Peninsula? The gambus Melayu that came to
the Malay Archipelago could be either a direct descendant of the Persian barbat or from the
Yemeni “qanbus”, which itself may have evolved from the “barbat”.16
The gambus Melayu has striking resemblances to both barbat and qanbus-type
instruments in its physical structures. There is historical evidence to suggest that either of
these routes from Persia and the Arabian Peninsula were possible. The similarities between
the gambus and the barbat are those that also link the gambus with the qanbus.17 Even the
14 Summary of papers on “Hadhrami Diaspora” were discussions in the conference at al-Wehdah (The Arab
Association of Singapore) on the 20th August 1995. Speakers were: Dr. Farid Alatas, Alwiyah Abdul Aziz,
Harasha bte. Khalid Banafa and Heikel bin Khalid Banafa. Also see Muslim World 75 nos.3-4, (Alatas: 1985:163).
15 Alatas mentions in an article, “Notes on Various Theories Regarding the Islamization of the Malay Archipelago”
that the Arab historians and geographers of the 9th century knew of the existence of the Srivijaya Empire
(Indonesia) which included large parts of the Malay Archipelago. Ya’quibi, for example writes of the trading
connections between Kalah on the west coast of the Malay Peninsula and Aden (Yemen). Another writer, Ibn al-
Faqih (902) mentioned the cosmopolitanism of Kalah. Abu Zayd of Siraf (d.916) said Kalah lay half-way between
China and Arabia and mentioned Kalah as a prosperous town inhabited by Muslims from India and Persia.
Another 10th century source by Ismail b. Hasan mentioned this region in a condensed nautical treatise, as a work
based in part on travels in the Malay Archipelago (Muslim World 75: nos: 3-4: 1985:163-4). However, historians
Andaya and Andaya describe the Muslim trading colony of Kalah as being in the northern part of the Malay
peninsular (1982:51). Kalah Bar, probably at the modern Kedah State (north) of Peninsula Malaysia and Tiuman
(Pulau Tioman – east side of Peninsula Malaysia) became important ports in the 10th century for Arab traders
(Hourani: 1995:71). Heuken mentions that during the 9th century Kalah (known to the Chinese as Ko-lo) became
important to the Arab seafarers, who, together with the Persians traded there with Chinese and Malay merchants
as described by Ibn Khurdadhbih (2002:13). All these facts support the evidence of Muslims from Persia, Arabia
and India, inhabiting some of the important ports in the Malay Archipelago since the 9th century. Hence, this
farther supports the likelihood of the 9th century dissemination of gambus lute-type instruments to this region.
16 Shiloah mentions in his writing that the ud was invented by a Persian philosopher Ibn Hidjdja (b.1366-d.1434)
who called it a barbat (1979:180).
17 The description given by Jean During in The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments closely identifies the
barbat with the gambus Melayu. However, During did not say where the barbat came from but he did say: “The
barbat had four silk strings, sometimes doubled, tuned in 4ths and plucked with a plectrum…at an early date it
10
strings of both types of gambus instruments are tuned in perfect 4ths, as is the case with most
Persian and Arabian lutes.18
Plate (iv) Yemeni Qanbus Player 19
Information gathered about the construction of the gambus Melayu is similar in manner
to the construction of the barbat. Ella Zonis (1973:179-180) in her book Classical Persian
Music concludes that the barbat was constructed from one piece of wood, in contrast to the
Arab ud, where the body and neck were separate. This confirms the close similarities
apparent in the construction of the barbat and gambus Melayu.
Plate (v) Qanbus Making 20
was exported to Arabia via Ai-Hira on the Ephrates. The North African kwitra and Arab ud can be considered
descendants of the barbat as can the Chinese pipa and Japanese biwa” (1984: No.1: 156).
18 Jean Lambert described in his book La médecine de l’âme that the qanbus from Yemen has three doublecourse
strings tuned progressively in 4ths except for the low single string which is tuned an octave lower to the
high double-course strings (1997:90). The tuning in 4ths is similar to most gambus of alam melayu.
19 Photograph is courtesy of Mr. Rafiq al-Akuri.
11
One cannot doubt the possibility of Persian influence in the construction method of the
gambus Melayu. The descriptions by Sachs and Zonis about the gambus imply the instrument
may be of Persian origin. Also, according to Farmer, the barbat was exported to the Arabian
Peninsula from Persia. This may explain the close similarities between the ud and the qanbus
from Yemen. Farmer (1967:108) concludes that Persian lutes were taken to Arabia in the late
7th century by Persian slaves who were to work in Mecca and other parts of the Arabian
Peninsula.21 In the 8th century Zalzal introduced a new type of ud which superseded the
barbat. It was this new invention (ud) that was brought to Europe by the Arab invasion of
Spain and became known to the West as the lute.22
The Impact of Islamisation on the Malay Archipelago
Without doubt the impact of Islamization of the Malay Archipelago played a crucial
role in the transmission of the Hadhrami lute-type instruments and Arab culture. S.Q. Fatimi
has suggested that Islam arrived in the Malay Archipelago in four stages. First, early contacts
from 674 A.D., second, Islam obtained a foothold in coastal towns around 878 A.D., third,
Islam began achieving political power in 1204 A.D. and finally the decline set in from 1511
A.D (69-70). It is difficult to state categorically when and how the Hadhrami lute-type
instruments arrived in alam melayu. With little or no information regarding the specific
arrival of gambus-type instruments, the present research relied heavily on historical accounts
20 I am grateful to Mr. Samir Mokrani for this photograph.
21 By the 5th century, the barbat was used by Byzantine and Persian singing girls. The Arabic ud appeared in
Mecca in the 6th century (Marcuse: 1975: 413).
22 Farmer (1931a) concludes that the old pear-shaped barbat type lute, without a definite neck continued to exist
side by side with the ud in the Castigas de Santa Maria (The Origin of Arabian Lute and Rebec: p.98). Sachs also
describes how a type of Moorish guitar of the 14th century ‘la guitarra morisca’ used by the Spaniards was more
and more influenced by the lute today which descended from the ud (1940:252).
12
and on theories regarding the Islamization of the Malay Archipelago during the 15th
century.23 Early historical accounts of Islamization are vital clues for understanding the
dissemination of Arabian and Persian lute-type instruments in the Malay Archipelago.
The hypothesis about the arrival of the Hadhrami and Persian lute-type instruments
through the Arabs and Persians to the Malay Archipelago is a strong possibility since
economic growth and political stability could have influenced cultural adaptation and
behaviour from a more dominant and influential cultural group (the Arabs).24 There is
evidence to show that the early Arabs, who came to alam melayu to trade and settle down,
were from Southern Yemen (Alatas:1985;1997). Today the Arab community in Indonesia,
Malaysia and Singapore is solely made up of Hadhrami Arabs and the gambus, zapin and
sharah are closely associated with them. The presence of Hadhramis could account for the
arrival of the arched-back ud (gambus Hadhramaut) and the Yemeni qanbus.25
Plate (vi) Yemeni musicians at a Wedding 26
23 Hall D.G.E. (1970); Johns, A.H. (1981); Wolters (1982); Andaya and Andaya (1982); Alatas (1985); Reid
(1993;2000); Tarling (1992) and Heuken (2002).
24 Personal communication: Dr. Farid Alatas: 26th July 1999.
25 Farmer mentions that the people from Al-Yaman (Yemen) had an instrument called qanbus which is also
referred to as qabus could be traced back to the pre-Islamic time (1931:73).
26 Photograph courtesy of P. Bonnenfant
13
Even today music plays a significant part in the Hadhrami community in zapin
performances.27 Performances of the gambus, zapin and sharah music and dance are
significant at weddings, circumcisions and other cultural and religious festivals in the
Hadhrami community.28 Farmer also mentions that the Hadhramis were not only traders, but
great patrons of music. He concludes: “…real Arabian music comes from Al-Yaman,
[Yemen], whilst the Hadrami minstrels are always considered to be superior artistes”
(1967:3).29 This supports the point that the Hadhrami traders brought along their musical
instruments when they came to the Malay Archipelago to trade and settle. Another fact that
supports this view comes from many of my fieldwork observations that gambus players in
samra performances were usually of Hadhrami descent, now settled in alam melayu.30 My
observation during my research was that many of the Hadhrami Arabs were more highly
accomplished musicians than Malay performers. The arrival of Arabs from Hadhramaut is a
vital link as it could explain the transmission of Hadhrami lute-type instruments to alam
melayu, probably brought by these traders and religious men from Yemen.
27 Jean Lambert in a letter to me mentioned that zafin (zapin) is a kind of dance known to the Hadhramis and Gulf
Arabs. Zafin may have a qanbus in the musical performance. It is more an aristocratic musical art form (letter
dated: 27th December 1999).
28 On a number of occasions I have witnessed the performance of zapin music and dance held within the Arab
(Hadhrami) community in Singapore. These evening musical performances are called “samra”. The gambus
plays the main role in the zapin performance in samra evenings. An interesting observation made at these
performances was that the musicians who were engaged to perform in the samra were from Indonesia. Most of
the musicians were of Arab (Hadhrami) descent. They were very accomplished musicians who not only played
Arabic tunes but also lagu-lagu Melayu (songs) and tunes from popular Hindustani film music. Loopuyt mentions
that “morisco” (Moors), referring to the Spanish Muslims who were forced to convert to Christianity, continued the
tradition of the night musical sessions called “zambras”. There seems to be some connection with the Hadhrami
musical evenings called “samra” and the Andalusian’s “zambras” (personal communication: July 1999: France).
29 Aghani, iv, 37 as quoted in the History of Arabian Music (Farmer: 1967). “Kitab al-Aghani” (Book of Songs) was
written by Abu al-Faraj al-Isbahani who lived from 897-967 A.D. (Shiloah: 1997).
30 The Malays use the word “samra” or “sharah” to refer to zapin Arab (zapin of the Arabs). Sharah dance form is
not a zapin but it is usually danced by male performers as an individual solo dance or in pairs. Professor Shiloah
pointed out to me the word “samra” or “zambras” derives from the Arabic samar or musamara, which means
nocturnal conversation and depicts a “literary” genre. He also mentioned the word “samra” used in Yemen,
designating a nocturnal entertainment session which includes singing, dances and music-making (personal
communication: July 1999: France).
14
The Significance of the 19th Century Hadhrami Arrival
In the 19th century there was a greater interest shown by the Arabs in trading with the
Malay world, and some Arabs settled down in the Malay Archipelago.31 The Arab
immigrants in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia originated predominantly from the valley
of Hadhramaut (Yemen). In the 19th century Hadhrami Arabs played a significant role in the
spread of Islam as well as commercial trade in Southeast Asia. The Hadhrami not only
arrived in Malaysia, as traders and merchants, but many were cultured and scholarly men
imbued in Arabic literature, religious law and philosophy. They traded extensively in the
archipelago where they were granted special commercial privileges because they were of the
same “race” as the Prophet.32 By the 19th century, it had become the spread of Islam that was
the primary goal of the Arabs in alam melayu. The Arabs brought along not only trade but
rich cultural traditions.
In fact, musical instruments such as the arched-back ud arrived in this region in the 19th
century and became the predominant form of gambus in Peninsular Malaysia. Interestingly,
the Hadhrami communities in alam melayu provide a fascinating case of transnational
communities. They assimilated well into their host countries of Indonesia, Malaysia and
Singapore but retained their cultural identity at the same time. This is referred to as the
Hadhami practice of asabiyya.33
31 The 19th century events in the Malay world were significant because of the : (1) large influx of Hadhrami
emigration “diaspora” (Alatas: 1997); (2) the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and shorten sea journey; (3) the
increase Hadhrami trade with the Malay Archipelago and (4) the new arrival of the Islamic mullahs and religious
scholars (ulamas) from Hadhramaut to this region.
32 “Race” is a biological term which is sometimes confused with ethnicity. The term race is scientifically flawed
when used to define categories such as Chinese, Malays, Indians, etc. It is a biological term to identify with racial
categories such as Mongoloid, Caucasoid and Negroid. Even more important is the social and cultural factors
that imply one’s membership to a particular ethnic group and not just the racial outlook, colour of hair or skin. It is
a term sometimes exploited for political reasons. However, the deeper definition of the term “race” is not within
the discussion of this research.
15
The evidence of Hadhrami cultural links is still strong today in Gresik, Surabaya and
Jakarta in Java and Hadhramis still live in eastern Sumatra in places such as Melayu, Siak,
Padang, Medan, Jambi, Bukit Si Gunung, Siak, Palembang, and Aceh.34 In Singapore and
Malaysia the Hadhrami community, although having adopted some Malay cultural practices,
has not integrated fully with the Malay grouping and still prefers to be identified as Arab.
The differences between the Hadhrami and Malay communities in music and dance are
apparent from the interpretation of performances of zapin (as in zapin Arab or zapin Melayu).
One of the most important cultural contributions from the Hadhramis is definitely in
zapin music and dance and the use of gambus and marwas in Malay music. Evidently, the
Malays have adopted many other Hadhrami influences into their culture. The word Rabu
(Wednesday), the Hadhrami reciting style of the Qur’an, the thuluth script, the language and
knowledge of Islam (ilmu) and many aspects of custom can be traced to that of Hadhrami
influences. The word adat was also adopted from the Hadhrami Shafii sect of Sunni Islam.
The practice of death ritual (tahlil), the male dress (gamis or tob) and Muslim names such as
Ali, Hussein, Omar, Ahmad, Mohamad, Abdullah and Ismail are all Hadhrami practises.35
The re-introduction of the Arched-back Hadhrami Gambus
33 Alatas describes this as Hadhrami consciousness and identity. He pointed out that for centuries, “Hadhramis
married into Malay-Indonesian communities and retained their cultural identities without losing their sense of
Hadhami identity because such identity is not national or ethnic but kinship-based” (personal communication:
12th July 1999). Also see Alatas (1996:10).
34 Inhabitants of Arab origin can nowadays be found in all Southeast Asian countries, with the exception of Laos
(Bajouned 1996). The vast majority, however, live in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore (Jonge and Kaptein eds.
2002). However, there are also Hadhrami Arabs living in the Malay World who do not display any distinctive Arab
cultural attributes, while others identify themselves as Arabs first, then Malays. It seems that the more recent
migrants identify themselves more as Hadhramis and less as Malays. Some Hadhrami Arabs also prefer to
identify themselves as Malays because of the privileges they get as Bumiputeras in Malaysia.
35 Interview on Hadhrami culture and music was conducted with an influential Hadhrami community elder, Syed
Ali Alattas from Johor Bahru on the 27th June 2000. However, it has also been pointed out to me that all the Arab
names mentioned above are not necessarily Muslim names as they are also used by Christian Arabs in the
Middle-East.
16
Having considered the various “theories” on the arrival and establishment of the
Hadhrami lute-type instruments, there is one more hypothesis on the arrival of the archedback
ud in particular. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 would have shortened and sped
up the sea journey from the Middle-East to alam melayu. With the impetus of steam
navigation and the opening of the Suez Canal the economic prospects for the Malay
peninsular was good (Shennan: 2000: 6). The Arabian ud, but this time coming from other
parts of the Middle-East, could have been re-introduced as a “second coming” of the gambus
in alam melayu. It can be argued that the popularity of the ud (gambus Hadhramaut)
superseded that of the skin-bellied gambus Melayu in the late 19th or early 20th century in
Peninsular Malaysia.36 The ghazal groups of Johor in the early 20th century were replacing
Indian sarangi with the gambus Melayu and later by the gambus Hadharamaut. In Peninsular
Malaysia today, the gambus Melayu has been almost completely replaced by the gambus
Hadhramaut.
Plate (vii) Lute Maker in Yemen 37
36 This view about the popularity of ud replacing the gambus Melayu in the late 19th century is also shared by
most Malay music scholars. The late Pak Fadzil Ahmad, a distinguished performer attached to the Ministry of
Culture, claims that the ud, became more popular in around 1897 in Johor, replacing the importance of gambus
Melayu. Although some Malay musicians disagree and mention that the ud was only introduced in the 1950’s.
37 Photograph courtesy of Toni Ferghali.
17
As both the gambus Melayu and gambus Hadhramaut may have come from the same
genealogical development, it seems that no distinction was necessary between the two types
of instrument but the generic term “gambus” was used to refer to both types of instruments
by the Malays. Another important fact explaining the lack of any kind of differentiation is
that both types of gambus are used interchangeably in the performance of Malay musical
genres such as zapin, hamdolok, asli, inang, masri, and ghazal. Both types of gambus are
found in Sarawak and Sabah in East Malaysia and also in Brunei and west Kalimantan
(Borneo) in Indonesia.
Conclusion
Some Malays strongly believe that the gambus Melayu is of Malay origin, as opposed
to the gambus Hadhramaut, which they acknowledge to be of Middle-Eastern origin. The
arguments about the gambus Melayu they have put forward as Malay origin are unconvincing
and inconclusive, as there was no proto-type or primitive forms of Malay lute found in the
Malay World. It is also unlikely from the evidence presented in this research shows that these
instruments were brought by Persian and Arab traders. The only examples of the gambus
Melayu considered as modeled on the Arabian ud are those found in Brunei, shown below in
Plate (viii), with their wooden bellies, arched-back, and round sound holes.
Plate (viii) Gambus Melayu
(Brunei)
18
An instrument of this kind has also been found in Sulawesi but it has 6 double-strung
strings. A specimen of this type of gambus from Sulawesi, shown in Plate (ix), was also
found in the Musée de l’Homme in France.38
Plate (ix) Gambusu
Musée de l’Homme (France)
Evidence pointing towards the contribution of the Muslims from Persia and Arabia in
the transmission of the Hadhrami/Persian lute-type instruments to the Malay Archipelago is
substantial and conclusive. The use of terms such as: Hadhramaut, Yemen, gambus, zapin,
sharah, samra, marwas, Arab, and Hijaz, could be plausible admission of Hadhrami
influences and transmission of lute instruments from Yemen rather than Persia.39 With the
Islamization of the Malay Archipelago in the 15th century, many Muslim Arab traders
established strong trade links with these areas. However, I have not come across the word
“qanbus” in any primary text, although the word “barbat” has been used frequently to
describe the Persian lute. There is also concrete historical evidence that supports the presence
38 I am grateful to Lucie Rault at Musée de l’Homme (France) who made all the necessary arrangements for me
to make a detailed study of the instrument. This instrument was labelled as “gambusu” from Sulawesi, in
Indonesia.
19
of “Parsi” (Persian) influence in alam melayu. However, whether it was direct or indirect,
Persian influence on Malay culture has been particularly strong, especially on the Malay
royal courts. Thus, the argument that the Persian lute come to alam melayu cannot be
dismissed altogether.40
My argument points to the fact that both types of gambus were already highly
developed when introduced into the Malay Archipelago. There is no evidence of “similar” or
“primitive” types of lute found that could point to the gambus being indigenous to alam
melayu.41 The gambus may have developed over the centuries in alam melayu. However, the
striking resemblance to qanbus or barbat supports the theory that it was an “imported”
instrument rather than being indigenous to alam melayu, albeit now modified and adapted.
Plate (x) is a photograph of the qanbus from Yemen.42
Plate (x) Qanbus (Yemen)
39 See Poche (1984) and Kunst (1952/1994).
40 Mohd. Taib Osman mentions the Persian influence on the culture of the Malays has been
particularly strong especially on the Malay royal courts. Malay court ceremonies, the title “Shah” for
the sultans or rulers, literature and ideas on statescraft and kingship, the literary style of court
literature, and religious literature of Shi’ite tradition, all bear indelible marks of Persian influence
(1988: 267). Also refer to G.E. Marrison, “Persian Influences on Malay Life”, Journal of the Malayan
Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, XXVIII (1955:80). G.W.J. Drewes comments that the Persian
influence seems to exist alongside the Arabian influences in the Malay Archipelago in an article “New
Light on the Coming of Islam to Indonesia” (1985:7-9).
41 The musicians and scholars I spoke to in Indonesia, (S.Berrain), Malaysia, (Professor. Mohd. Anis)
and Brunei, (Haji Nayan bin Apong) seem to agree that the gambus Melayu originated from alam
melayu (Malay World).
42 I am indebted to Dr. Nizar Ghanem and Dr. Jean Lambert for the use of this photograph.
20
I am convinced from the arguments that the gambus Hadhramaut was a later arrival to
alam melayu as the ud only arrived in Yemen in the 19th century.43 My research suggests that
gambus Melayu type instruments probably arrived first. It could even be possible that these
pear-shaped skin-bellied lutes were transmitted by others and not only the Arabs from
Hadhramaut.
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by:The Transmission and Impact of the Hadhrami and Persian Lute-Type Instruments
on the Malay World
by
Larry Francis Hilarian

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