About SUARA SAMA

Januari 17, 2008

SUARASAMA is and group, founded in 1995 by Irwansyah Harahap and Rithaony Hutajulu. They both studied Ethnomusicology in the University of Washington, Seattle, USA. This band plays in various genres including jazz and contemporary styles with “world music cultures” background. Suarasama has produced two albums: “Fajar di Atas Awan”(Radio France Internationale, France, 1998) and “Rites Of Passage” (Suarasama: 2002). The song “Fajar di Atas Awan” has also published by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, USA (1999) under “Music Of Indonesia 20: Indonesian Guitar.

 

 

Philip Yampolsky

Fajar Di Atas Awan . Medan North Sumatera

Ferformed by the group Suarasama, directed by Irwansyah Harahap, Rithaony Hutajulu, lead vocal. The group based in Medan, Song composed by Irwansyah Harahap.

Ethnically, Irwansyah and Rithaony are both Batak, though of different subgroups. Irwaansyah is particularly versed in Toba Batak gondang music and Melayu gambus, while Rithaony has sung and choirs and as a solois in music in western idioms on stage and on television in Medan. At the University of Washington, Irwansyah studied sitar and tabla, and Rithaony studied Cambodian music with Sam Ang Sam and qawwali singing with Nursat Fateh Ali Khan. But the native musical idiom of all of the musicians in Suarasama is not that of any traditional Indonesian or other Asian music, but rather that of Indonesian and Western popular youth music from the 1960s 0n.

Suarasama is one of several music groups directed by Irwansyah under umbrella title Gaung Sumatera Utara (GSU), “Echoes of North Sumatera.” Other branches of GSU are acaustic vision, which plays “ contemporary jazz,” and a “ neo- traditional” group that performs stage and concert version of traditional music and dance of North Sumatera. Suarasama, in Irwansyah’s words, seeks “ an alternative “ in the from of cross cultural music. ( An alternative to what ? We will come beck to this.) Its music is based on musical ideas drawn from Africa, the middle East, India, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia (and,evidently, Western Europe, though this is not stated). Only acoustic instruments are used. Irwansyah writes (personal communication) that the name Suarasama – a compound of suara, “sound,” and Sama “ same “ or “equal “- refers to the attempt “ to create understanding between people (by means of music) without setting some up as superior to others.”

 

 

Comment From “Jerome Samuel”, translation by Julie Street.

 

The term world music covers many things. World music is about western musician being inspired by music from across the globe and working with artists from Africa, Asia and Latin America. It is about western audiences discovering the sound of other cultures. But what it also involves is non western musician developing a passionate interest in the music of other culture (and often without the intermediary of European recording studios and Major American record companies). These musicians are, in fact, tapping into an ancient tradition of cultural and musical exchange, which dates back centuries before the explosion of modern pop and rock.

 

Irwansyah Harahap and his musician, who hail from the Indonesian town of Medan ( northern Sumatra ) reflect this rich cultural melting – pot in their own work .most of the musicians involved in the group the batak ( ethnic peoples who used to live inland on Sumatra’s high plateau) but Irwansyah and his musician grew up in a coastal region permeted by malay culture, it was natural that they should end up fusing these ncient inland traditionals with malay influences.

 

Irwansyah and his musician are higly conscious of the fact that they are mixing music from different cultures and traditions. In the past amateur musicians mixed “popular” airs without being fully aware of the implication of the fusion sound.

Irwansyah also introduces listener to the gambus on an instrumental ( track 6) and two zapins ( track 4 and 7 ) on which he is accompanied by excellent backing vocals from Syainul Irwan and Rithaony Hutajulu.

 

 

Musicians:

 

Irwansyah Harahap (gambus, oud, guitar, vocals)

 

Ernie Zulfan (tabla, rebana, daf frame drums and backing vocals)

 

Nandang Kusnandar (kendang and daf)

 

Rithaony Hutajulu: Main Vocal

 

Syainul Irwan: Main Vocal

 

 

About the songs:

  1. Fajar di Atas Awan (Dawn Above Clouds) 1995

Song and lyric: Irwansyah Harahap

 

Irwansyah Harahap: Guitar, backing vocal

Rithaony Hutajulu: Main vocal

Syainul Irwan: Sruti box

Nandang Kusnandar: Cymbals, percussions

Erni Zulfan: Rebana (Malay Framedrum)

 

  1. Sang Hyang Guru (“Rabb”) 1989

Song: Irwansyah Harahap

 

Irwansyah Harahap: Guitar

Rithaony Hutajulu: sruti box

Syainul Irwan: Vocal

Nandang Kusnandar: Sundanese Kendang

Erni Zulfan: Cymbals, percussions

 

  1. Lebah (Bee) 1995

Song and lyric: Irwansyah Harahap

 

Irwansyah Harahap: Al “Ud, backing vocal

Rithaony Hutajulu: Main vocal

Syainul Irwan: backing vocal

Nandang Kusnandar: Cymbals, percussion, backing vocal

Erni Zulfan: Rebana (Persian Duf), backing vocal

 

  1. Zapin Shirat-Ghazal Ingatan Diri (In road to Selfness)

Song: Irwansyah Harahap

Liric: Retno Ayumi, Syainul Irwan

 

Irwansyah Harahap: Guitar, backing vocal

Rithaony Hutajulu: backing vocal

Syainul Irwan: Main vocal

Nandang Kusnandar: (Persian Duf)

Erni Zulfan: Rebana (Indian Tabla)

 

  1. Silang Bertaut Bunyi (Cross meets Sounds)

Song: Irwansyah Harahap

 

Irwansyah Harahap: Guitar, backing vocal

Rithaony Hutajulu: backing vocal

Syainul Irwan: main vocal

Nandang Kusnandar: Persian Duf

Erni Zulfan: Cymbals, percussions

 

  1. Playing Gambus 1995

Song: Irwansyah Harahap

 

Irwansyah Harahap: Malay Gambus

Nandang Kusnandar: Persian Duf

Erni Zulfan: Indian Tabla

 

  1. Zapin Rindu (Longing Zapin) 1994

Song: Irwansyah Harahap

Lyric: Syainul Irwan

 

Irwansyah Harahap: Gambus, backing vocal

Rithaony Hutajulu: backing vocal

Syainul Irwan: Main vocal

Nandang Kusnandar: Persian duf

Erni Zulfan: Rebana (Malay Framedrum)

 

 

  1. Habibullah (God’s Man) 1994

Song and lyric: Irwansyah Harahap

 

Irwansyah Harahap: Arabic Al ‘Ud, backing vocal

Rithaony Hutajulu: backing vocal

Syainul Irwan: Main vocal

Nandang Kusnandar: Rebana (Malay Framedrum)

Erni Zulfan: Rebana (Persian duf)

 

  1. Merangkai Warna (Colouring Colours) 1996

Song: Irwansyah Harahap

 

Irwansyah Harahap: Arabic Al’Ud, backing vocal

Rithaony Hutajulu: Main vocal

Syainul Irwan: Sruti box

Nandang Kusnandar: Sundanese Kendang

Erni Zulfan: Cymbals, percussion, Indian tabla

 

 

 

Credit:

Live Recording: Philip Yampolsky, July 4-6 1997, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

This album first published by Jerome Samuel (RFI Musique, France 1998).

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Januari 17, 2008

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