By ZAZALI MUSA
THE sound of kompangs is often heard in Malaysia at functions such as the Malay weddings, welcoming VIP guests or at football matches.
Kompang is a traditional hand drum played in groups using interlocking movements to produce various composite rhythms.
It is played with legs crossed when sitting, standing or walking in procession with players using one hand to hold the drum and the other to strike it.
In the early days, kompang was known as rebana, which is drum in Arabic. The Malay word kompang loosely translated means “to hit or beat”.
Kompang groups in Batu Pahat and Muar, Johor, usually have the jidor or the Javanese drum in their ensemble due to the large number of ethnic Javanese residents in the two districts.
While many of us enjoy listening to the rhythms of kompang, many do not realise that the art of making the instrument is slowly dying.
In Johor, there are only a handful of kompang makers and one of them is Perusahaan Kompang Baki Abdullah at B32, Jalan Mahmood, Parit Jawa, near Muar.
“Orders for our kompangs come from other Malaysian states, Brunei, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysian students overseas,” said Ibrahim Paimin in an interview recently.
He said, as long as there are Malay weddings and other social events, demand for kompang will be there.
The shallow wooden frame of the drum is made of leban wood, which is light, and goat hide is nailed to the frame using metal nails.
He said that cowhide was not suitable for kompang as it was thicker and it did not produce the desired sound when struck.
He said, previously, kompang was totally handmade from the shallow frame to the nailing, but now producers used machines for the frame, making the job much easier.
Apart from kompang, the workshop makes jidor and other traditional musical instruments of the Malay Archipelago such as angklung, gong, yengke, gendang caklempong and gendang kemplingan.
For enquiries on the instruments or to visit the workshop, call 06-987 3034 or 013-378 5774.