Interview with Talago Buni, Performers at 2014 Rainforest World Music Festival

Talago Buni
Talago Buni

Talago Buni will present the music of the Minangkabau people from the coastal area of Sumatra (Indonesia) at the Rainforest World Music Festival in Sarawak (Malaysia).

The group is scheduled to perform on Friday June 20th 2014 from 2:15 – 3:00 pm at the Theatre Stage at Sarawak Cultural Village Auditorium.

Edy Utama, Artistic Director of Talago Buni discusses the group’s background with World Music Central.

Q: Can you give our readers a brief history on how the band was formed?

Talago Buni was founded in 1998. Starting point was the idea to develop contemporary music emerging from the music of the Minangkabau people, West-Sumatra. This approach was a respond to the fast growing mass-culture pop music in the region. The broad musical knowledge and skills of the founding members who all have a background of academic education in music led to the development of a distinct musical repertoire: Talago Buni is staging “new music” with a nonetheless typical Minangkabau sound.

There are generally three types of musical traditions in Minangkabau: the music from the highlands tends to be melancholic and even mystic, while the music from the west coast is more vivid and open to influences. And there is the music connected to the religious culture of Islam. All three contribute to the richness and the strength of the music of Talago Buni.

The group started its career with a tour through Germany in 1999, including a concert at the “Tanz- und Folkfest” in Rudolstadt, Sacred Rhytm, Millenium Percussion Festival, Bali (2001), Bali World Music Festival Bali (2002), Solo International Ethnic Music, Solo (2007), Sawahlunto International Music Festival-SIMFes (2010 and 2013), etc.

Q: What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Basically all the elements in Talago Bunni musical composition is important, because it is interconnected with each other. But as a music group inspired or derived from the Minangkabau ethnic music tradition, the specific elements within the Minangkabau traditional music still gives the strong feeling on Talago Buni music composition. For example, vocal techniques and the use of local dialects, non-standard structure, which is different from the structure of popular music. The duration of Talago Bunni composition is between 6-12 minutes.

Another element that we consider important, is a modification instrument of musical instruments from Minangkabau tradition. It uses for playing various vocabulary rhythm, melody and specific scales of Talago Bunni music.

Talago Buni
Talago Buni

Q: Who can you cite as your main musical influences?

Talago Bunni music, because it is something new that no one else who influence it. If you want to say effect, the main effect is from the tradition music of Minangkabau culture, which embraces the matrilineal system. Then the influence, perhaps, influenced the musicians it self who studied and have knowledge on music. They are alumni of higher education art-music majors in Indonesian ethnic music.

Q: Tell us about your first recordings and your musical evolution.

The first recording of Talago Buni made by our partners, namely KulturKontak from Germany. The first album was an early works of Talago Buni musicians. Most of the it is still played until now, with the development and editing as needed. A musical composition in the work group Talago Bunni, are musical compositions that were never finished, as it continues to proceed and refined.

Q: Can you share some information about the program you’ll present at the Rainforest World Music Festival?

Musical compositions that will be displayed at the Rainforest World Music Festival, most equal to the work shown in Borneo World Music Expo in Kuching last year, but with some refinement and development. There is a new musical compositions specifically we prepare for the performance at the Rainforest Music Festival. From the observation of viewers who often watch the show Talago Bunni they said that although with the same material, or composition, Talago Bunni shows something new from every show. The atmosphere and the feeling of players also affects the overall dynamics of Talago Buni show.

Q: How’s the current traditional and roots music scene in Indonesia?

In general, traditional music in Indonesia, including in the Minangkabau society, is very concerning. Young people prefer to enjoy and play the pop music that developed very quickly.

Q: What musical instruments do you use?

Most musical instruments that we use haven’t a name yet, because we made and modified our own, like a big drum, made of coconut tree. There are a number of wind instruments (flute) that were modified. Other instruments that we use is flute instrument from Minangkabau traditional music instrument, the kecapi (string), talempong and canang (small gong), and percussion skin.

Talago Buni
Talago Buni

Q: If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?

In general, all musicians can collaborate with Talago Buni because for us music is a universal language.

Q: Do you have any upcoming projects to share with us?

In the near future we will launch second album of Talago Buni, and continue making the show.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.


One thought on “Interview with Talago Buni, Performers at 2014 Rainforest World Music Festival”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 × 5 =