Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Uma Bakah Group - Sape Kajat (2004)

apologies for the break in posts, we've all been busy in our own way. luke's getting married - whilst blogging/ridding the world of nukes - and i've been traveling a bit. just came back from two weeks of visiting family in kalimantan, indonesia. they belong to the Kayan tribe, a sub-group of the dayak umbrella. while cultural practices differ between different dayak groups (e.g. hierarchical vs. horizontal social organization, gender roles and tattoo culture), there are strong common traits and music is one of them, in particular sape music.

the sape is a guitar-like instrument played by different tribes in Borneo; the music, inspired by dreams, is rhythmic, repetitive, beautiful. the first time i heard a sape was late at night in the village where my father was born, deep in the highlands of central borneo. it was after nightfall, the air full of bugs, the traditional long-house lit up by a single electric light. suddenly an old man started strumming a sape and the room filled with transcendental drone melodies. here he is:


that was 2005 and by 2013 i'd forgotten about the sape. but then, last week, my uncle played this tune and it just blew me away


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