“Talempong” – Traditional Musical Instrument of Minangkabau


Talempong is one of musical instrument from Minangkabau. It’s almost like bonang instrument in gamelan instrument. It can be formed from the brass, but also from woods and rocks. Talempong is looked like circle with diameter 15-17.5 cms, the side below making a hole and the upper making a circle bulge with diameter five cms which is the side you hit. Talempong has different pitch each other. Its sound is from a couple of woods that is hit to its face.

1. How to play “Talempong”

  • Talempongs are put on a stand, that are composed neatly then it can be played while we kneeling on the floor mat. This kinf of talempong is called as sitting talempong (talempong duduk).In the ancient time, this talempong always existed in every “Rumah Gadang” (traditional house of Minangkabau, West Sumatera) that was played by the girls for filling leisure. However, today this talempong is found rarely. This talempong is only exist around borderland like Talang Maun and Lima Puluh Kota District.
  • The second way is called as “talempong pacik” (handful talempong) that is played while hanging it on your tumb. This talempong can be played while sitting down, standing up, or walking. Usually, who play this talempong is the old mans or the young mans. This talempong’s music is a kind of ensemble talempong. Then it has to be played by a group. This group has an effect for the interlocking among the instrument in the ensemble.

Genre of the “talempong pacik” features rithm performance due to a output the form short melodies that always evolve, followed by many other instruments in rithm function like “gandang” and “rapa’i” (single headed frame drum) and brass instruments, “pupuik gadang”, that function as melodies. “Pupuik gadang” or “pupuik liolo” thet has multiple-reed is also considered not too important in the composision of “talempong pacik”; its musical function is not related directly with the interlocking aspects.

Relatively, “talempong pacik” is often considered from the names of the song, but not rarely we can find the same basic of the song between repertoar of “talempong pacik” of one region and another region, while the name and the title of thesong are different. The otherwise, the name and the title of the song are same, while the composision is different, it’s just the same. It happen, because of the artist rule who gived the tradition. In the development process, there is cross of inheritance. For example, the heir gived it to the artist of another region. Sometime, the artists do not know the name of the song, they just know the composision of the music. But because of something, they have to name the music on the order from the current side and the name of the song can be same.

“Gendang” has not the same function in an ensemble of “talempong pacik”. The general differences seem in the rhythm tone of “gendang” with the “talempong” has. Many other group use the “gandang” to confirm interlocking of “talempong’s” performance, while in another group it just for tempo arranger and give accent in a form of constant rhythm.

Like other instrument traditional music of Minangkabau, “talempong pacik” is performed in a custom event. For example in a wedding resepsion and other custom resepsions. For conserving it, usually organized a competition of “talempong pacik” in province level. In Minangkabau, “talempong” musical keep survive as ancestor’s heritage purely. The title of the song was taken from people livelihoods. As a tradisional art, “talempong” has two gamuts that are notated, are 5-6-1-2-3 and 1-2-3-4-5.

As functionally, “talempong” is consisted from a few kind of it :

  • “Talempong duduk” (sitting talempong)

Put on a stand which 14 number of pencons, lined two rows.


  • “Talempong Pacik” (holding talempong)

Held by the left hand, while the right hand hit it.

Mens playing “talempong pacik”
  • “Talempong Garetek” (trembling talempong)

For melody.

  • “Talempong Tingkah”

For rhythm.

  • “Talempong Sawut”

For the main tones.

  • “Talempong Batu” (stone talempong)

Those are 6,that arranged neatly on a pad made from bamboo. On each of it, there is a picture of foot, the color is black sallow as a metal that would hit, it will release aloud sound like “talempong” made from metal.

Base on the public story, this “talempong” was found by Syeikh Syamsudin, a theologian. Estimated time was about 12M century, when he dreamed approached by a man in the white cloack, with long beard, and wear turban. The old man in that dream told him that many straggle things in the forest that is overgrown by chamfer and enau leaf. That things could give some good use for children and grandchildren if it is be gathered.

There is a magic in that stone, is before played, it has to be smoked with white incense. If not, then that stone will not make aloud sound like “talempong” but like the sound of hit rock. It will be worse if the hitter does not believe about the mitos, people say he will be cursed.

Source : Minagkabausiana. “Talempong”. http://minangkabausiana.bpa.sumbarprov.go.id/


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