Rapai, One of Aceh Traditional Music Instruments

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Rapai, One of Aceh Traditional Music Instruments
Hello, this is the first post of Music Of Indonesia, Indonesian traditional music first that will be introduced into the world is Rapai, This instrument is derived from the tip of the Indonesian province, the province hit by the tsunami ever great, but Aceh has a lot of traditional music, Rapai this one. What it Rapai? Let's see ...

Rapai is traditional Acehnese percussion instruments are included in the family of frame drum, which is played by being hit by hand without using a stick. Rapai often used in traditional ceremonies in Aceh such as marriage ceremonies, circumcision apostles, fairs, accompany dances, anniversaries, birthdays and so on, and is an integral part of the lives of the people of Aceh either philosophically or culturally. Rapai role set the tempo, rhythmic, tingkahan, clattering and make the atmosphere more lively and festive. The tool supports the chorus (melody) of Serune Kalee or longing Buloh (wind instruments berinterval diatonic). 

There is a proverb that is often heard containing "peunajoh timphan, Piasan Rapai" which means the typical food of the Acehnese are timpan (a type of cake made from rice flour in it contains coconut and palm sugar, or containing Sarikaya / aso rich egg, wrapped in banana leaves and young steamed), then Piasan Rapai which is defined as a musical instrument is Rapai entertainment.

Based on the manuscript poem sung together Rapai, percussion instruments is derived from Abdul Kadir Sheikh Gilani, great scholars of fiqh of Persia who lived in Baghdad from the year 1077 till 1166 AD (470-560 AH). The poem mentions (in Indonesian):

Dilangit tinggi bintang bersinar
Cahaya bak lilin memancar kebumi
Asal rapai dari Syeh Abdul Kadir
Inilan yang sah penciptanya lahir kebumi. 

"High in the sky shining star
Candle light bath radiating to earth
Rapai origin of Sheikh Abdul Kadir
Inilan legitimate creator was born to earth."

Rapai brought by an Islamic broadcaster of Baghdad named Sheikh Neat (no mention of Sheikh Rifai) and played for the first time in the capital of the Kingdom of Aceh, Banda Khalifak (now the Village Pandee, Banda Aceh) around the 11th century.
Rapai, One of Aceh Traditional Music Instruments

Rapai played ensemble consisting of 8 to 12 players called crew Rapai and juxtaposed with other instruments such as serune Kalee or Buloh longing. Game of the ensemble Rapai can reach hearing from a distance due to echoes dipantulkannya and does not require a microphone for every appearance even at night in rural areas could reach hearing from a distance of 5-10 km.

Various types Rapai:

 1. Rapai Daboih
Daboih (from Arabic Dabbus), meaning a kind of game / stunt that show supernatural power of a player is immune to the arms of a pointed iron. Daboih crew headed by a caliph who have immune science, experts makrifat iron, so that the body is not immune to punctures sharp objects, can wrap a hot iron chain keieher, weight or waist, dancing in the fire (bloh lam Apui) and so on. Rapai accompanying Daboih game called Rapai DABOIH.

In this Daboih Rapai show, at the time "Saleum" (greetings) Rapai played forming rhythmic slow tempo (andante) with a story or a poem spoken dabus drummers. Then when it gets into the poem "Wamole", tempo Rapai turned into a moderate tempo (moderato). In reading the poem "Amanah teacher," blow rithmik be rather fast (allegro), and the poem "Nyo he a friend," the tempo Rapai be Allegreto

2. Rapai Gerimpheng
Rapai gerimpheng done seated. Starting with the greeting, then aim the next hand, melenggokan body laterally left and right simultaneously, then Peh (at) Rapai to accompany ratoih (song).

3. Rapai Pulot
Rapai Pulot initially started with ratoih (song) as regards the introduction, followed by an acrobatic performance and expertise form a continuous circle among the perpetrators. They perform movements jungkiran shimmy-liukkan body, forming a rope games, and gymnastics skills

4. Rapai pase 
Rapai pase (located in North Aceh) with the formation of 30 fruit bat Rapai, being 15 10/12 fruit and small fruit formation. In addition to the usual Rapai size (Rapai daboih) plus the size of a large Rapai (Rapai parent / pase) is played should be hanged because Besai size and very heavy.

The hit was to stand, specially brought rithmik alone, without the tone intervals, sung a song / poem religious perspective, advice, happy ceremonies, customs celebrations, circumcision Apostles, birthday and other ceremonies in Islam. There are times when pitted (betrothed) between groups, with the assessment criteria tingkahan, Rapai rhythm, sound, and reply to the answer rhymes opponent. Formerly started the night until morning with the customary fashion of Aceh.

5. Rapai anak/tingkah
Rapai anak/tingkah, is Rapai with a slightly smaller size, function held tingkahan, because his voice is louder and chink, so the accent marks pressure / attack (clear beats) clearer sounds.

6. Rapai kisah/hajat,
Rapai kisah/hajat,  tells the story / sing in accordance with the intent / request which have their own home, and Sheik Rapai together with other players sing tells / mensyairkan as he followed the rhythm tingkahan Rapai


Rapai rounded shape and similar walled jars and low, have bells (jingle) on the walls of various sizes.

Frame body or in the Acehnese language called doings / Rapai else is to be made of jackfruit wood, merbau wood or wood Meudang / ara who had quite old. Shaped like a crock or pot with a variety of sizes, thereon covered / given skin. While the bottom portion is empty, with edges or walls called
Buloh or Paloh. Rapai were not painted. Dark brown color that appears due to the wood material used was quite old age even hundreds of years have come out of oil. Now the wood is difficult to get Rapai old enough, so that the varnish is used to decorate the walls Rapai.

Membrane or membrane made of goat skin or skin "himbe" (a type of ape, but now is not used anymore). As for the large size Rapai like Rapai pase, made from cowhide that has been processed / thinned and smoothed with Buloh (bamboo).

Rapai using rattan (awe) to tighten or raise your voice. To produce a rattling sound and crisp, the metal plate is used on the side baloh as well as on the tambourine jingles.

Garnish almost nothing, just a straight carvings encircling else is to be streamlined and 2 or 3 pieces lengthwise lines make some bend-buckling embellished these objects. The decoration does not have a symbolic meaning.

The size of the circle Rapai straight line between ± 38-50 cm in length, height Paloh (wall frames) ± 8-12 cm, sheet Paloh seen from the rear position ± 4-6 cm, and for the size of the parent Rapai pase center line ± 1 meter circle or more.

How to Make Rapai

A large log was taken beneath the portion close to the root, and then soaked in mud for several months for preservation, then scraped the inside portion like a big circle pit menggeronggong and then stayed to form the outskirts of course according to the desired size. The wood used is hardwood species such as merbau, Meudang-ara, or stem jackfruit, which is now difficult to obtain.

Kelawang or suburb had a body that needs to be polished and carved sculptures in the form of bend-bend straight lines. Amid outskirts chiseled frame and given the elongated hole ± 6 cm, width of ± 2 cm to 1 cm piece of copper placement. In the upper portion given goat skin that has been processed such that Nalus, thin and then disepit.
It is not known whether it has a standard preparation of construction, which are uniform in size for every manufacture, or tomorrow will change the size of a good circle, width or height.

From Rapai-Rapai who still found it turned out to be a sense of cultural creation that contain artistic value. Both types of wood used, the weight of the object, bend straight lines carved rounded, body circumference and the installation or attachment plates tambaga solid and rarely loose or bent, as well as wooden spheres bodynya rarely cracked or broken despite more than a hundred years old.
The state of the craftsman himself would probably still be alive, despite his advanced age....

How to Play Rapai

Rapai played in a sitting position or sitting berbanjar circular. The left hand holds Paloh or palong (body) Rapai, right hand hit leather Rapai and when struck in the midst of the membrane will produce a humming sound or huge echo, but not sharp voice (low).

When struck on the edges will get sharp and loud sound or can be likened to a game drum beaten with sticks on the rimshot.

Because Rapai made of wood with good quality, would definitely heavy and solid product. If upheld when playing unassisted / held by one hand, certainly can not be played perfectly.

Dalamsebuah Rapai games, usually there is a syehnya (leader), assisted by some of the crew / hitters. In playing a tune, usually some fruit Rapai hit with a constant tempo, while others with tingkahan-tingkahan (syncopate) and dynamic sound.

Phring sound of jingling copper plates which are one-on-one or in a row, sometimes accompanied by an ensemble or chorus also said-replication repeat (canon) the bells and whistles. Thus providing a color that really festive at a ceremony held performances.

Rapai position when sitting, still is held in a state of enforced over the toe, while the players involved shaking / moving even heads were also nodding, according to the beat being played at the time.

In general, the show usually begins with a slow tempo (andante), then (moderate) goes fast (allegro) and the faster klimaknya (Allegretto) and pressure (accent) usually falls on the last character every time signatures.

To make a loud sound Rapai, then on the bottom rim of skin, foisted a rattan Rapai lap on the outskirts of the body and when finished the show rattan revoked.

Similar instruments

  1. Dayereh (doyra, dora, dajre, doira, Antichrist), from Iran (Persia), Balkan countries, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.
  2. Daf, from the Middle East, Kurdistan, Iran, Armenia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan.
  3. Bendir, from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.
  4. Duff, daff, daffli, from India
  5. Bodhran, of Ireland
  6. Buben, from Russia
  7. Tambourine, from Indonesia, Malaysia
  8. Mazhar, from Egypt
  9. Kanjira, from South India
  10. etc.


  1. Drs. Abd. Hadjad, et al, PERALATAN HIBURAN DAN KESENIAN TRADISIONAL PROPINSI DAERAH ISTIMEWA ACEH, terbitan  Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan – Pusat Penelitian Pengkajian dan Pembinaan Nilai-nilai Budaya, 1993 
  2. Drs. Abd. Hadjad, et al, ENSIKLOPEDI MUSIK DAN TARI DAERAH PROPINSI DAERAH ISTIMEWA ACEH ( LANJUTAN )terbitan Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan – Pusat Penelitian Sejarah dan Budaya – Proyek Inventarisir dan Dokumentasi Kebudayaan Daerah, 1986
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Other.

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