Sunday, June 01, 2014

Traditional Kadazandusun music: Keeping it authentic

THERE has been a great deal of thought on traditional musical instruments, especially on whether they should be allowed to evolve into something more modern with finer tunes as opposed to the past. There have been arguments on the instruments construction and it’s playing techniques.

The Sompoton is one such instrument that has caught on the evolution of music.

This instrument is actually a mouth organ and can be found simply anywhere if one wished to look. It has a gourd wind chamber from which eight bamboo reed-pipes extend from.

The sompoton has been modified by some innovative individuals who are more interested in the sounds and tunes rather than the make.

A Sompotonist from Bundu Tuhan Ranau, Donius Bulangou, 49, is adamant that the old ways of playing the tune is best.

“In the olden days, it only had eight reeds on it. It was fine looking and treasured among the people. It gave out that perfect sound that reminds us of nature and life,” he shared.

Living among traditionalists, he insists that they used the Sompoton all the time, especially during celebrations.

“They would play the sompoton during events like engagements or weddings. They would also play it during social gatherings,” said Donius.

“In those times the youth, because of lack of entertainment, pride themselves in knowing how to play this instrument, but it seemed the interest is now fading away,” he laments.

He also expressed his disgust at the way players are playing songs that do not adhere to the old tunes. The old tunes are usually repetitive harmony that can indeed remind one of nature in its every aspect.

“I learned to play from my elders, by listening to them and emulating their moves. I love this instrument as it has given me so much pleasure artistically,” he shared.

Donius is now in the process of writing about his experiences in life and his opinions on the evolution of life as he knows it. He is also compiling Dusun Poems and riddles.