Riau Archipelago Traditional Musical Instruments


The Riau Archipelago is a province in Indonesia which is located on the island of Sumatra. This province is located in the central part of the east coast of Sumatra Island, namely along the coast of the Malacca Strait. And become one of the richest provinces in Indonesia with its resources dominated by natural resources such as oil, natural gas, rubber, and others. However, in this article we will focus on the culture, namely the traditional musical instruments of the Riau Archipelago.

In addition, the Riau Archipelago also has several types of natural tourism areas. The Riau Archipelago itself is dominated by the Malay ethnic group, in addition to the Javanese, Minang, Batak, Bugis, Chinese, and Sundanese.

10 Traditional Musical Instruments of the Riau Archipelago

Regarding the rich variety of cultures, the Riau Archipelago has a community culture, namely traditional musical instruments that have various types. What musical instrument is it? Come on, see the description as follows:

1. Gambus

gambus riau

This traditional musical instrument is a type of traditional musical instrument that can be found in almost all Malay territories. Coinciding with the Malay community and changes in spiritual values ​​in Pekanbaru which have been felt over time have changed people’s views on Gambus and Zapin art.

The gambus music has changed from before and has changed its role as Zapin’s accompanist on stage. Initially, Gambus was played as a distraction which had religious overtones and was played individually at home or as a distraction for fishermen on a boat. However, the development of the role of Gambus was played into more secular songs.

2. Silat drums

traditional musical instrument of the Riau Archipelago, gendang silat

This traditional musical instrument is an art characteristic of the Malay people of Bengkalis, one of the districts in Riau province. This silat drum consists of drums, mussels and gongs. This combination of musical instruments will produce an interesting sound.

In ancient times, this silat drum was generally performed for silat accompanists who were demonstrating their silat movements to welcome the presence of the King. Nowadays, gendang silat is played to welcome the presence of several dignitaries, the wedding event which is named for Raja Satu Hari. Not only that, this tool is for Malay wedding accompaniment when bathing in the garden.

3. Yam Tambourine

riau yam tambourine

This traditional musical instrument includes percussion instruments which are classified as drums. To play Tambourine Ubi is by being hit or beaten with your bare hands.

The size of the tambourine yam is bigger than the regular tambourine. This art is very small in diameter, 70 cm with a height of almost one meter.

In the past, this tool was played as a companion for wedding information and warnings of danger. Tambourine sweet potato is played according to the rhythm according to the news that will be said. And now, tambourine yam is only played during certain traditional ceremonies.

4. Genggong Talang Mamak

Riau Archipelago traditional musical instrument Genggong Talang Mamak

The origin of the name “Talang Mamak” is because this musical instrument is a traditional characteristic of the Talang Mamak tribe, which is made from palm fronds. Usually, Genggong is played for self-entertainment and is held during breaks. It can also be played while waiting for rice to cook, employee events or other traditional ceremonies for the Talang Mamak Tribe.

In addition, for men who are adults (not married), Genggong is played at night to summon girls to come down to earth. It is useful to attract girls.

5. Waddle

This traditional musical instrument is still in the same family as the Gendang, which has a wooden frame and a large opening covered with bones.

Usually, Gedombak is played together with other musical instruments. The place for the players to sit and the paddock is placed under the armpits. How to play this tool by hammering with your hands.

6. Kompang

For Malays, this traditional musical instrument is made for the Gendang art instrument. Sometimes, Kompang is played by the Bajau tribe on the coast of Sabah, Malaysia. Even though it is not included in their custom. Kompang leather is made from the skin of a female goat, but recently Kompang leather is made from the skin of a cow, buffalo, to synthetic latex.

To play Kompang is to tap the Kompang skin with your fingers or palms according to a rhythm. This game is usually carried out during parades, lembeki, and other traditional ceremonies.

7. Drum Nobat

the traditional musical instrument of the Riau Archipelago is the gendang nobat

This traditional musical instrument originally came from Kote Village, Singkep District, Lingga Regency. However, it’s a shame that Gendang Nobat is better known by people outside the Lingga than the original place itself.

In addition, this art is played at the reception of several guests of honor. For the Nobat Gendang players, it consists of seven members with seats for one chairman, 2 drum players, a gong beater, a trumpet player and 2 silat players.

8. Trumpet

riau nafiri

This traditional musical instrument comes from Riau province with a trumpet-like shape. According to history, during the royal era, the Trumpet was one of the tools that needed to be played at the inauguration of the king.

The trumpet includes Nobat’s heirlooms except for the drum, Betel Esar, and Cogan which are state symbols or work regulations. Without these tools, the inauguration of a king cannot be agreed upon. The old belief said that spiritual power would be damaged and destroyed until the nation’s dignity and pride collapsed.

In addition, the Trumpet is used as a tool to declare war on other kingdoms. Then used to inform about the death of the king and the appointment of the king.

9. Accordion

Riau-Accordion-Traditional-Musical Instruments

This traditional Malay musical instrument is almost like the accordion art from Germany. Even though it seems easier, the accordion is also a musical instrument that is quite difficult to play. This art produces a diatonic scale that fits song lyrics like rhymes.

To play it, the player holds the Accordion with both hands, then presses the chord buttons with the fingers of the left hand. For a moment the fingers of the right hand play the melody of the song according to what is being delivered. Players who have been trained and are used to being able to show it by changing hands.

10. Marwas

Riau Marwas traditional musical instrument

This traditional musical instrument has another name Marawis, or Meruas. Marwas is still a type of Gendang (drum) art. This instrument is generally played in a way that coincides with the Gambus Selodang musical instrument as the carrier of the melody.

Marwas is divided into two faces with a diameter of 15 to 20 cm. The sides of the body are made of jackfruit, ciku, or durian wood with a hole in the middle. The resonator or cover is made of thinned goat or calf leather.

Also Read: Riau Traditional Musical Instruments


Such is the information regarding the traditional musical instruments of the Riau Islands. Hopefully what you read is useful to increase knowledge in the field of music art. And don’t hesitate to provide feedback, criticism or opinions for the development of this blog.

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