Tuesday, June 5, 2007


from: National Geographic

Artist Name: Marsada
Country: Indonesia

Artist Bio: Marsada are a dynamic group of young musicians from Sumatra, Indonesia. Part of the Toba-Batak indigenous group, their native home and source of inspiration for their music is the beautiful tropical island of Samosir in Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world.

Marsada means "together" in Batak, an apt name for a group who have known each other and performed together for most of their lives. Initially formed as a musical trio in 1990, Marsada extended the group in 1999 to become the group they are today.

The Batak are renowned for their musical ability, and consequently Marsada have grown up surrounded by music. Keen to sustain their musical traditions, as well as draw on their modern day influences, Marsada have developed their own arrangements of both the Batak ceremonial music (uning-uningan) and Batak folksongs. Using traditional instruments alongside modern acoustic guitars, Marsada broaden their musical accessibility by weaving together traditional rhythms with those that have evolved from contact with Europe and the West. Traditional instruments used by Marsada include the hasapi (two-string plucked lute); sulim (bamboo flute), garantung (wooden xylophone), taganing (set of five wooden drums of varying pitch) and the hesek (common bottle struck with beater).

Founding member of Marsada in 1990, Marlundu Situmorang, reportedly first picked up his older brother's guitar at the age of six and has rarely been seen without one since! He is blessed with a rich silky voice, and as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist he provides a strong lead for the group. The other two members of the original trio, Kolous Sidabutar (bass) and Jannen Sigalingging (hasapi/lead guitar), complement Lundu's vocals perfectively and form the core of the close harmony singing so characteristic of the Batak folksongs.

Oldest member of the group, Tony Sidabutar, is, like most, able to switch effortlessly between instruments to great effect, but his main strength is undoubtedly in his beautiful sulim playing. Tony makes most of his flutes himself with bamboo grown on Samosir Island. Also on sulim as well as percussion is Amir Sinaga. Henry Manik provides strong percussive cohesion on hesek and Amput Sidabutar skillfully alternates between rhythm and melody on the garantung and taganing.

Listen To Pulo Samosir

Music by this Artist

Image: Pulo Samosir

Pulo Samosir

Label: Dug Up Music

— Courtesy Calabash Music

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