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Kompang

 

Introduction

Kompang is a membranophone instrument like the gendang. The membrane from the goat's or cow's skin is stretched over a frame, making a wide, shallow instrument. The frame called the "balos" is made out of the dried wood of the balau tree or nangka (jackfruit, scientifically called Artocarpus heterophyllus ) tree. This hand drum is most commonly played in a large kompang ensemble (kompang ensembles), or with other instruments to accompany dance and choral performances. It is believed to be of Arab origin, introduced to Malaysia during the days of the Malay Sultanate by traders.

 

FunctionGoat Hide/ocassions

The kompang is arguably the most popular Malay traditional instrument, for it is widely used for all sorts of social occasions, from National Day parades and official functions to signal the arrival of VIPs to wedding ceremonies and football matches. Nowadays, kompang is taught in schools and higher education institutions as well as government institutions.

 

Goat Hide used to make Kompang Skin

Photo credits: Ministry of Culture, Arts & Tourism, Malaysia

Playing the kompang

Kompang is usually played in groups with legs crossed when sitting, standing, or walking in procession, depending on the need. The player uses one hand to hold the kompang while the other is used to hit it. (Nik Mustapha, 1998). There are no rigid rules suggesting which hand for which, so the players are free use either hand for hitting while the other to hold the frame. To produce the "pung" (pronounce as poong) sound, the player needs to hold the fingers close together and hit the side of the kompang, and to produce "pak", the player needs to stretch the fingers apart and hit the center of the kompang.

In performances, a kompang ensemble consists of three groups according to its melody pattern played. The first group known as the "Pembolong", play a specific patterns that acts as the base rhythm in unison. The second group "Penyilang", will act playing interlocking rhythmic patterns to the base rhythm while the third group "Peningkah", (usually have the least players of one or two person), act as the master of the show by playing the melody pattern known as the "bunga" (flower).

The animation below shows how a kompang to be played. Click on the 'DEMO PLAY' to start the animation.