The wonderful cocktail of Dangdut  

There are many wonderful forms of indigenous music which continue to inspire generations of music lovers throughout the world. In Indonesia one particular form of music that has endured has been Dangdut.
The term itself derives from the Javanese word conveying the literal sound of a drum (known as the table or gendang). Although there is a certain amount of confusion as to how the expression was first used – some claiming that Dangdut was originally a derogatory term used by the rich to describe music favoured by the island's poor, there is no doubt that the music it inspired came to have a universal appeal.
Is in a foreign the widespread popularity of this type of music is the fact that it is extremely rich and vocals, melodies and harmonies. In addition, Indonesians love to dance to this type of music because of its strong rhythmic content.
Typically, the musicians performing this type of music will consist of a lead singer who is backed by several musicians. The actual instruments employed can vary considerably. As well as traditional bamboo flutes, or drums made from cow skins, their may be guitars mandolins and even synthesizers. It is this latter aspect that makes this music particularly appealing because it is able to transcend genres and traverse cultures. There will never be any danger of this form of indigenous music ever dying out because it has proved itself to be highly resilient in its ability to adapt to modern styles.
While traditional Dangdut is music that may have an echo of the past, in its modern setting it can embrace a whole load of eclectic influences, from house and R&B to reggae and hip-hop. The guitars can even be cranked up to incorporate aspects of western rock music.
If you should find yourself in a city on the island of Java, then the chances are there will be a venue somewhere in the vicinity that will be offering regular Dangdut performances. Even if you don't feel like making your way out to these venues, the events are so popular that they are very often broadcast on TV. And just because it Dangdut is based on very traditional music forms is no reason why it should be considered somewhat dull and old-fashioned. In fact, a fair amount of controversy has sometimes centred around the music form.
Over a decade ago Dangdut musicians found themselves at the centre of a media frenzy. A certain singer, Inul Daratista, was singled out by religious groups for her rather racy style of performing and dancing. Naturally this form of publicity has only helped raise the status of the music form, rather than having the opposite effect, as curious concert-goers flock to the shows to see what all the fuss is about.
Whatever the thoughts of conservative commentators, there can be no denying the enduring appeal of Dangdut. It has become a core aspect of Indonesian culture, and the fact that it brings so many people together in the spirit of shared joy and the love of music is something that should be celebrated rather than denigrated.

 

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