Bungong Jeumpa (SATB)


Bungong Jeumpa is a popular folk song from Aceh province in Indonesia. Given its popularity, it has been widely used as a source material of many choral and orchestral settings. This  arrangement offers a different interpretation of this rich heritage. Aceh province has a long history of Muslim influence in the region, being one of the first region in Indonesia that converted to Islam. As an homage to this part of its history, this piece uses a double-minor scale to give a middle-eastern feel in various parts of the arrangement.

The later part of the composition is heavily influenced by two dances: Tari Ratoh Djaroe and Tari Saman. The two dances typically are performed kneeling down, with complex hand movement involving claps and slapping on one’s thigh, and virtuosic fast rhythm and tempo changes. The dancers also frequently chant along with the dance, and sometimes percussionists accompany the dancers at the side using hand drums called rapai. When a dancer sings rapid glissando to the highest pitch possible, it signifies the end of a section before moving to a new movement. Some body percussion effects have been notated in the score. Creative direction regarding choreography and staging is left to the discretion of the performer.

The province of Aceh was unfortunately also one of the worst victims of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami that killed an estimated 170,000 lives in the region. The Precipitato section is meant to evoke the wave, rapidly approaching and undulating with unsettling harmony. It is set to the second half of the text; a tinge of melancholy and reflection about death. However, interspersed among the chaos are the bright and rhythmic dance moves, depicting the resilience of the people amidst the disaster. The final bright chord resolves the music to a victorious, optimistic note.


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