The Energetic Drumming of Rampak Bedug

June 25, 2018 | Ahmadie Thaha


Rampak bedug is a tradition in Banten, a neighboring province of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. The energetic and dynamic art is performed in harmony, combining traditional and modern music with religious elements. This performing art is an aesthetic culmination of the adu bedug tradition held during the holy month of Ramadan, and in celebration of Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha.

Bedug can be found in almost every masjid (mosque) and mushalla (prayer space) in Indonesia. Bedug is a single-headed drum made of a hollowed log covered at one end by stretched cowhide or goatskin. Rhythmical beating of bedug marks the prayer times for the surrounding area. This will be followed by adzan (the call to prayer), which calls on Muslims to immediately gather for the congregational prayer at masjid or mushalla.

But, rampak bedug, which means the rhythmical beating of bedug drums beaten in unison (rampak) accompanied by a beautiful dance, is unique to the region of Banten. Rampak bedug produces distinctive rhythms that are pleasant to hear.

Rampak bedug was first performed in rampak bedug inter-village contest circa 1950s in Pandeglang Sub-district, Banten, aimed to enliven the holy month of Ramadan. Up until 1960 rampak bedug was a local entertainment, known as ngabedug (bedug drumming). From Pandeglang Sub-district, this art spread to areas in the neighboring Serang Regency.



The waditra (traditional music instrument) of the rampak bedug includes a large bedug as a bass and a set of small bedugs as regulators of rhythm, tempo and dynamics. Then there is tingtir, made of a coconut tree trunk, which harmonizes rhythms and makes melodies of spiritual songs, such as takbiran, shalawatan, marhabanan, and others. Last but not least, anting caram and anting karam, made of betel (jambe) tree trunk and a stretched of drumhead, are accompanying songs and dance moves.

The movements of the rampak bedug drummers incorporate types of Pencak Silat movements such as catrok, selut, gebrak, gojlok, gilas kombinasi, ping-ping cak-cak, haji salam, nangtang, celementre, rurudatan, antingsela, sela gunung, kelapa samanggar, and others. Those movements can be performed by both male and female dancers. As a whole, the dance movements that are rhythmically in synch contains the values of cohesiveness and togetherness.

There are types of movements that dominate: unison and floor patterns movements shown in symmetrical straight lines representing togetherness. The techniques of form, medium, and instrument, contribute to the movements, the playing of the drum, and the correlation between movements. The purpose is harmony and creating shared values.

Bedugs are decorated with various accessories, neatly lined and elevated with a special stand cradle. Frequently, the drummers move their arms and body, standing on and beating on the drums with wooden sticks, then they simultaneously jumped down following the rhythmic rhythm that comes out of every bedug. Meanwhile, the dancers, usually women, follow the styles and rhythmic drum beats with beautiful dance movements.

In the past, the players were all man. Today, rampak bedug is played by about ten players of men and women. The men play the bedug and kendang, while the women play the bedug. Both players sometimes dance, too.



The costumes of the rampak bedug players are Muslim and Muslimah clothing adapted to the times and elements of the local. The men, for example, wear pencak silat attire complete with Bantenese turban. In Banten, there are many silat styles and schools, so are their clothing styles. The women wear traditional dance costume with a combination of modern and religious motifs.

The performance of rampak bedug with a robot is only one of many creations that come out of the spirit to preserve and pass on the traditional art, as well as to attract young people to involve in it. Many other creations are and can be made in rampak bedug, the art that combines music and movements. Moreover, the movements of rampak bedug dance are not following a rigid rule, so it can be developed as attractive as possible.

Today, rampak bedug groups often participates and performs abroad. Rampak bedug never cease to attract, amaze and astonish the audience at the Indonesia Fair events held in various countries.

Tags : Banten, Bedug, Drum, Performing Arts

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