Name: Tagonggang.
Type: Goblet Drum > Membranophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#:
Country: Sangihe archipelago > Indonesia.
Region: Celeb Sea > South East Asia.

Description: The tagonggang is a large curvaceous goblet shaped drum only four in the Sangihe archipelago of Indonesia. A small group of islands located in the Celeb Sea between Indonesia and Mindanao Philippines. Else where inside Indonesia the tagonggang is very little known. As a larger sized goblet drum it is comparable in size and sound to the Philippine Dabakan and West African Djembe.

History: The tagonggang is a deeply rooted drum played in Sangirese customs. It is an important tool used in sundeng, a name used to describe Sangihe’s Indigenous belief system and the tradition of sacrificial rituals once performed by Shaman-led communities around the Sangihe.

According to Sangihe-based historian Alffian Walukow, the tagangong’s rhythms were once joined by instruments like the nearly extinct oli [jaw-harp]. Accompanying sundeng rituals in which a young virgin would be sacrificed to appease ancestor and nature spirits, with the tagonggang’s rhythms leading the sacrificed person’s spirit into the spirit world.

The Dutch arrived to Indonesia during the 19th century. This lead to an evolution of social attitudes towards this practice, with the sundeng ritual [Palmer Keen]. The Dutch introduced Christianity through protestant missionaries, who along with mass conversions banned the practice of animist beliefs and rituals.

Playing Techniques: It is played with both the left and right hands with the musician usually sitting, similar in manner to the dumbek of the Middle East. By laying the drum on the side of the lap with the drum-head facing forward. The musicians also use a stick in the left hand to accent the sound when playing the drum usually to accompany the ritual war dance, tari solo]. The techniques are influenced by the neighbouring Muslim communities who also play the rabana [frame] drum in a similar manner.

Citations: Palmer Keen @ auralarchipelago.com

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