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Seri Dawai Indonesia: Sapeh, Instrumen Tradisional Milik Borneo

Oleh Harold Sumual & Theduardo Prasetyo

Sejauh apapun orang Dayak pergi, mereka akan merasa berada di rumah ketika mendengar petikan sapeh. Sapeh (Sape’, Sape, Sampeh, Sapek) merupakan instrumen tradisional milik orang ulu atau ‘orang sungai’ terutama suku Dayak Kenyah dan Kayan yang berasal dari Borneo. Sampai saat ini, sering terjadi perdebatan di Youtube atau media sosial lainnya yang mengklaim bahwa instrumen Sapeh merupakan milik Indonesia ataupun Malaysia. Hal ini merupakan akibat dari kurangnya informasi mengenai sejarah Sapeh itu sendiri yang melingkupi Borneo, dimana ada lebih dari dua negara di pulau ini; di utara terdapat Malaysia dan Brunei dan di selatan adalah wilayah Indonesia. Pulau ini sendiri dikenal dengan banyak nama. Nama Borneo sendiri mungkin berasal dari bahasa Sansekerta váruṇa” (वरुण) yang berarti air. Nama Indonesia sendiri untuk pulau ini, yaitu Kalimantan, berasal dari bahasa Sansekerta Kalamanthana yang berarti pulau yang memiliki udara panas.

InShot_20171020_014520

(Dok:Youtube.com)

Sape memiliki bentuk seperti perahu dan dibuat dari satu batang kayu yang besar. Dimainkan dengan cara dipetik, sapeh memiliki suara yang manis dan merdu, serta memberikan suasana yang tenang. Malcolm Macdonald (1956) menggambarkan musik Borneo yang manis dan bermelodi. Orang Suku Dayak Kenyah dan Kayan merupakan prajurit yang tangguh dan brutal, sehingga di waktu santai diantara berburu dan berperang, mereka akan duduk mendengarkan musik yang memberikan ketenangan. Disamping itu Sapeh juga dimainkan untuk mengiringi tarian ataupun gawai padai (pesta syukuran kepada sang pencipta atas panen padi yang melimpah).

Dulunya Sapeh menggunakan dua atau tiga senar saja, namun karena keterbatasan tersebut banyak pemain Sapeh kontemporer mengembangkannya menjadi empat bahkan sampai enam senar agar melodi yang dimainkan bisa mencapai 3 oktaf. Beberapa menggunakan senar pancing, seperti Alena Murang, namun ada juga yang sudah menggantinya dengan senar gitar. Tidak ada sistem penyeteman baku pada Sapeh. Setiap pemain mungkin mempunyai penyeteman yang berbeda tergantung dari skala lagu yang dimainkan. Fret untuk sapeh terbuat dari rotan atau bambu, dan melodinya hanya dimainkan di senar 1 sementara senar yang lain dimainkan secara open string sebagai efek drone (dengung). Memainkan sape mungkin sedikit aneh bagi pemain gitar karena jempol tidak mencengkram neck, namun hanya mengandalkan dorongan ke fret. Memetiknya pun juga hanya menggunakan jempol kanan.

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(Dok:sinchew.com.my)

Sapeh terus berinovasi dan berkembang, misalnya dengan berkembang sebagai instrumen elektrik. Hal ini didasari juga karena suara aslinya yang tidak terlalu keras, sementara perkembangan zaman membawa sapeh tidak hanya menjadi instrumen pengiring namun juga solo yang kadang dimainkan di panggung yang besar. Repertoar yang dimainkan juga tidak hanya lagu tradisional saja, anak muda kreatif seperti Uyau Moris mulai memainkan lagu kontemporer di Sapeh guna menarik anak-anak muda mengenal Sapeh. Sejauh ini Uyau Moris cukup sukses memperkenalkan Sapeh ke publik yang lebih luas.

Jadi, kembali lagi ke perdebatan tidak penting  di Youtube. Jika Alena Murang (Malaysia) yang lahir di Sarawak dan Uyau Moris (Indonesia) anak asli Dayak Kenyah bisa sama-sama memainkan sapeh dengan sangat indah, maka sudah saatnya kita kembali lagi ke buku sejarah dan membaca lebih jelas lagi sejarah kita. 


English Version

By Harold Sumual & Theduardo Prasetyo

Wherever “Orang Dayak” travels far from their home, the sweet sound of sapeh will make them feel at home again. Sapeh (Sape’, Sape, Sampeh, Sapek) is a lute-like instrument which traditionally belongs to “orang ulu” or “river people”; especially people from Dayak Kenyah and Kayan tribes. There have been so many debates on Youtube or social media, which claimed the instrument to be native of Malaysia or Indonesia. What we forgot is the history of sapeh which comes from Borneo, an Island where there are more than just two countries; north of the island are the Malaysian and Brunei territory, and south of the island is the indonesian territory. The Island itself has many names throughout the centuries. The name “Borneo” probably comes from Sanskrit word váruṇa” (वरुण) which means water. The Indonesian name “Kalimantan” probably originated from the Sanskrit word “Kalamanthana” which means “island with burning air”.

Sapeh has a boat-like form which is made from a single bole of wood. Sapeh is played by plucking the strings. It has a sweet and melodious sound, which is also the character of the music played with this instrument. Malcom Macdonald (1956), a western traveller, described his sightings of this instrument as such:

Two musicians sat at the edge of the dance floor, each holding a string instrument in his lap. It was a characteristic product of Kayan art, called a sapit. Shaped like a medieval viol, it had sometimes two and sometimes three strings. Their notes were feeble, with a volume of sound about as great as that from a couple of keys on a harpsichord; but the music was sweet and tuneful. It had a pervading air of gentleness, shyness and restraint. Kayans and Kenyahs were fierce and often brutal warriors, and it was significant of more likeable and civilized traits in dieir natures that,in leisure hours between hunting and fighting, they loved to sit and listen to the soft, sentimental sighing of a sapit.

Traditionally, sapeh only has two or three strings. In the further development of the instrument, many contemporary players added more strings to four or even six strings, which can play melody up to three octaves. Some players use fishing line as string, like Alena Murang, and some use guitar strings for their sapeh. There is no standard tuning for sapeh. Every sapeh artist probably has their own tuning based on the scale in which it is being played. The frets for sapeh are made of bamboo or rattan. The melody is only played on one string while the rest of the strings are played open strings as a drone effect (they keep vibrating while the melody is playing). Playing sapeh could be a weird experience for guitarists, because the thumb doesn’t stay on the neck of the instrument, like it would on a guitar. The thumb hovers beside the strings, while other fingers push against the frets. The right thumb is the only finger on the right hand which is used to pluck the strings.

Sapeh keeps innovating and developing. Some played added pick-up system, so they can amplify the sound to play on bigger venues. Like guitar, sapeh originally can’t produce a loud sound. Sapeh has also become, not just an instrument to accompany but, a solo instrument. Sapeh artists try to reach for a bigger audience by also playing contemporary songs. For example, Uyau Moris has been quite successful in introducing the instrument to a larger audience.

So back to the arguments on Youtube, if Alena Murang who was born in Sarawak (Malaysia) and Uyau Moris who was born in Dayak Kenyah tribe (Indonesia) both can play sapeh so beautifully, there is no point in argumenting whom the sape belongs to. But, there is a good point in going back and reading the history book(s).

 

Source:

Macdonald,Malcolm. Borneo People. Donald Moore Press Limited. 1968.

https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli.2015.57664/2015.57664.Borneo-People_djvu.txt

Evolution of Sape. Journal of Borneo Kalimantan, Institute of Borneo Studies, UNIMAS

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