Referencing, Reframing, And (Re)Presenting Grief Through Pop Laments In Toba Batak (North Sumatra, Indonesia)
W. Robert Hodges
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The Toba Batak practice of lament singing (andung) has undergone significant change since it was first documented in the mid 19th century by European colonial and missionary visitors. Existing primarily as a women’s domain within the context of funerary mourning rituals, Toba Batak lament singing has been dramatrically reshaped, primarily in connection to processes of Westernization and Christianization during the past 150 years. This interaction prompted an exchange of musical features which, from the late 1970s, provided a new context for the public expression of grief, namely the Toba Batak populer music industry. In this paper I address some of the ways in which the movement from funerary mourning practice to popular music genre has impated the conceptual and perceptual construction of Toba Batak laments.