Toraja’s diverse culture in South Sulawesi includes a rich tradition of music, with various types of traditional music still thriving. One of these is the traditional musical instrument known as Pa’pompang.
A journal titled “Pa’pompang Music as a Cultural Identity in Toraja Church Worship in Lamunan, Makale Tengah” from Satya Wacana Christian University explains that the Toraja community not only uses these musical intrument to accompany hymns in churches but also incorporates it into customary ceremonies like thanksgiving ceremonies (Rambu Solo) and funeral rites (Rambu Tuka).
Let’s delve deeper into the Pa’pompang to uncover more about this unique instrument.
The Pa’pompang: Characteristics as a Musical Instrument
Crafted from bamboo, the Pa’pompang is a musical instrument. In Toraja, the bamboo variety used for making the Pa’pompang is referred to as “tallang.”
Artisans then cut the bamboo into pieces of varying sizes. Different bamboo sizes produce a range of tones. Smaller bamboo pieces result in higher pitches, while larger ones create lower tones.
To mitigate sharpness and dissonance in the sound, artisans perforate the hollow bamboo pieces and seal the connections with wax or asphalt.
This instrument is sometimes referred to as Pa’bas because of the deep bass tones it produces.
Playing the Pa’pompang
While the Pa’pompang may resemble an angklung at first glance, playing it requires specialized skills in blowing through interconnected holes.
Playing these musical intrument on its own feels incomplete. To produce melodious music, musicians harmonize it with the sweet sound of bamboo flutes.
The musical intrument without bamboo flutes is akin to a meal without salt; both complement each other to create beautiful harmony.
Typically, groups of 25 to 35 people play this musical instrument. In Toraja, those engaged in Pa’pompang playing are referred to as “sedang ma’pompang.”
A Vital Role in Toraja’s Christian Worship
Given that Toraja is predominantly a Christian region, the Pa’pompang is not solely reserved for ceremonial occasions but is also employed to accompany songs in churches.
According to Pastor Melki Situru of the Lamuna Church, these musical intrument serves the purpose of inspiring the congregation’s spirit in worship, preserving Pa’pompang music as a divine blessing, and imparting a love for music to children.
Hence, it is evident that the church provides a natural haven for these musical instrument, where Toraja’s emphasis on creativity and spirituality can be upheld and cherished for generations to come.
In conclusion, the Pa’pompang is a unique traditional musical instrument specific to Toraja, treasured both in secular and sacred contexts. Its bamboo construction and distinctive tones enrich the spiritual and cultural dimensions of Toraja’s musical heritage.