All About Gambang Kromong, Traditional Music Arts of Betawi
VIVA – Gambang Kromong is a traditional musical instrument from the Betawi community, and actually, it has an interesting history. As launched from a book entitled Seni dan Budaya by Harry Sulastianto, the gambang kromong was originally introduced by ethnic Chinese and their descendants during the Dutch colonial era.
At that time, there were more and more Chinese people in Jakarta, so they developed traditional Chinese music, one of which was Gambang Kromong. Gambang kromong is owned by two community groups, namely those of Chinese descent and those of Betawi residents.
Although these two community groups have basic differences, these communities live in the same environment, use the same Betawi dialect, and generally live in the same group.
During the Dutch colonial era, the residents of Batavia (Jakarta) came from various regions such as Java, Sunda, Sumatra, and various foreign ethnic groups, such as the Dutch and Chinese.
According to Harry Sulastianto, the number of ethnic Chinese residents has increased, so they have introduced the traditional music of gambang kromong.
As quoted from the official website of the Ministry of Education and Culture, a gambang kromong group has an important leader, starting from coordinating members, looking for responders or clients, determining stage prices, to wages for panjak or based on expertise possessed.
A leader of a gambang kromong group can double as the owner, child or relative of the owner or panjak who was authorized by the previous leader.
In addition to the leader, a gambang kromong group also has a panjak of 8 to 25 people, depending on the type of music performed and the order of the responders. Each panjak has its own role in each performance based on the musical instrument they play.
Some play roles as panjak gambang, panjak kromong, panjak teh-hian, panjak kong-a-hian, panjak su-kong, panjak gong and kempul, panjak gong enam, panjak ningnong, panjak kecrek, panjak bangsing, trumpet, organ, guitar melodies, electric bass, drums, singers, dancers, to panjak lenong.
As information, there are two contexts where gambang kromong music is performed, first, as a performance at a marriage of descendants or a family event. The second as accompaniment music in lenong theater.
The musical instruments used in this performance are a combination of Chinese and Indonesian musical instruments, and are influenced by European musical instruments. The musical instruments used are as follows:
The xylophone or local people known as Gambang is a musical instrument consisting of wooden slats opened with 18 notes. Although the name xylophone is found in Javanese, Balinese, and Sundanese musical instruments which have slendro and pelog scales, Gambang and Gambang kromong have a typical Chinese scale.
Kromong is a set of small kettle gongs sold for ten. Instruments in a form similar to the Javanese bonang, Balinese reyong, and Minangkabau talempong which have a pentatonic barrel as long as it is the octave. This Kromang musical instrument is played by a panjak who sits on a chair.
In addition to these two main musical instruments, the gambang kromong performance is also supported by other musical instruments, namely kongahyan, tehyan, sukong, ning nong, juato, bassing, kempul and drums, gongs, drums, kecrek, electric guitars, western melodic musical instruments such as trumpets, and singer.