One aspect of every country’s culture is its music. Whether It is one part of every culture that can be passed on from generations to generations. Music is also a way of knowing what had transpired in the past as some songs employ words, melodies and instruments particular to a period in history…
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Some forms of music are common and recognized everywhere in the world. Examples are music from The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Luciano Pavarotti and, more currently, PSY, Justin Beiber or Beyonce. On the other hand, there are some types of music which are associated with a certain country. Dangdut, for instance, is specifically Indonesian. The term dangdut, pronounced as ‘dang – doot’, comes from how the Javanese people in Indonesia called the sound coming from the tabla drum. The drums come in pairs, one big and one small, and varying pitch. The smaller drum can be set to a specific tone range while the big one has a bass tone. (Courtney) Dangdut is only one of the many genres one can find in Indonesian music. In colonial times, people in the country employed Indonesian, Arabian and Dutch musical instruments to create a unique blend of beat. During those times, Indonesian music, especially the instruments used, was influenced by its visitors from other countries. Eventually, the native sounds combined with Malay modern music and Malay orchestras started to be popular. Melayu music or the music from Malay orchestras was a mixture of Indonesian, Middle Eastern, Indian and Western music. (1 Gorlinski) Melayu music employed a variety of instruments dependent on the group playing. The most commonly used were the flutes, tambourine-style frame drums (tabla), violins and assorted plucked lutes. Later on, artists incorporated music from Indian films, Bollywood specifically, adding a touch of modernism to the beat. Instruments such as electric guitars, electric organs, trumpets, saxophones, oboes and percussions were added. The combined sounds of the various musical influences created a beat that became recognized as Indonesian. Melayu music was for the lower class, played while slaves entertained their masters. (Arsip) It had coarse lyrics and sexually suggestive dancing. It was eventually adapted to appeal to the middle and upper class by Rhoma Irama. He made the lyrics “safe” for the society. (Walsh) In the late 1960’s the band OM Soneta and its singer Rhoma Irama started playing around with melayu music. Irama wanted a new and distinct sound. He added a touch of Western rock music to the existing euphony of melayu music and called it dangdut to break away from the traditional melayu sound. (Gorlonski) Singing with Elvy Sukaesih in his band, Irama made dangdut very popular because of its throbbing beat and lyrics. His song Terajana is one of the most-renowned dangdut song that introduced the name ‘dangdut’ in Indonesia’s music scene. A. Rafiq, another dangdut artist, made the people love the new genre in the 1970’s. A. Rafiq was Indonesia’s own Elvis Presley, complete with the hip-gyrating movements. These three artists started the dangdut pop culture. In converting the traditional dangdut sound into a more contemporary music, Irama added electric guitars, synthesizers, drums, a flute or a mandolin. The Indian tabla was a main stay instrument, providing any song with that distinct Indonesian sound. Although dangdut was a welcome addition to the diverse music of Indonesia, it has presented a moral issue for the predominantly Muslim society because of its suggestive lyrics and dance moves. Already, several songs have been banned from being played because of its vulgar lyrics. (Vaswani) One singer in particular has been the object of the criticism from conservative dangdut artists and supporters. The musician, the group says, has taken dangdut to a level that is erotic and corruptive the youth. (Vaswani) Her song Jupe Paling Suka 69 translated in English reads Jupe Likes 69 Best. The song contains “lustful sighs and…lyrics which portray intimate relations and the singer’
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