Music, Dance and the Sama-Bajau ‘Diaspora’: Understanding Aspects of Links among Communities through Ethnochoreomusicological Perspectives

*Matthew Constancio Maglana Santamaria  -  University of the Philippines Diliman, Philippines
Received: 23 Nov 2018; Published: 31 Dec 2018.
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Rituals in establishing the cultural as well as links among Sama-Bajau communities across Nusantaraor the region that we know as maritime Southeast Asia.  Ritual, however, cannot be fully understood unless it is broken into component parts of tangible (material) and intangible (non-material) properties. In this paper, I argue that an ethnochoreo-musicological approach, particularly through the examination of specific music pieces and dance forms or styles, can help scholars understand how the seemingly disparate and widely-spread Sama-Bajau communities in Nusantaraare related to each other. Three cases are presented revolving around ritual, music, and dance. The first case is about the magpai-bahauor ritual of the new rice which is shared by most Sama-Bajau communities in the Sulu-Sulawesi region. Rice from one community is passed on to another, constituting a virtual chain link that reaffirms the bonds between two groups of people. Corollary to this shared ritual practice is the shared repertoire of music(s) and dance(s). The second case concerns the musical model of Titik Tabawan, a kulintangan(aka tagunggo’an) graduated bossed-gong ensemble music piece composed of a distinct combination of melodic and rhythmic patterns that is observed as a ‘universally-shared’ intangible property in the central region of Nusantara.  Although known by different names across communities, this music piece, which is used for accompanying secular forms belonging to the Sama-Bajau igalor pansak(aka pamansak) dance traditions, retains its distinct qualities of rhythmic patterns and remains discernible as a musical model to both practitioners and scholars alike. Finally, the third case illustrates how variants of Igal Tarirai, a percussive dance using bamboo clappers called bola’-bola,’ may be used to glean relative distance or proximity in terms of dance performance practice.

Keywords: Nusantara (Maritime Southeast Asia); Sama-Bajau Identity; ‘Diaspora; Links; Ethnochoreomusicology

Article Metrics:

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