Dondong, a Dangerous Yodeling vocalizations of Sumatra

I met Dondong, a yodel-like vocalization, at Riau, Sumatra, Indonesia – more precisely the city of Pekanbaru and Kampar .

The title of this video is called ‘Svara Jiva’, made by four different Indonesian folk music vocalization from the Riau area. Svara Jiva named by Sanskrit, when translate into Indonesian, becomes Suara Jiwa, means “voice of the soul”. In addition, Suara Jiwa reminds me Srivijaya, the ancient Great kingdom of Sumatra.

Svara Jiva made by Rino Deza Paty, renowened composer in Riau province, Indonesia. He is the researcher of Riau folklore as well as the director of the Riau Music Festival.

On the left is Rino and on the right is Anjang Fitrah, Dondong singer

As mentioned earlier, Rino created the ‘Svara Jiva’ by mixing four traditional folk songs from the Kampar such as botimang, bagadumbo, maghatok and dondong.

Kampar is both the core area of Riau folklore and the old center of Riau province. Dondong is a pseudo-yodelings in Kampar traditional vocalization. And more I think Dondong is the song of Srivijaya.

The maximum extent of Srivijaya around 8th century with series of Srivijayan expeditions and conquest



Muara Takus, this mysterious ancient temple in Kampar, is the oldest building in Sumatra. Nobody knows who made it, but some Riau people seemed to believe this temple was built in the Srivijaya era, and were convinced Kampar was the center of Srivijaya(Sumatra).

What is the Dondong?

Dondong is a traditional folk song of Riau province. More precisely, it is the folk song of the Kampar area.

Palmer Keen, Indonesian folk researcher and overtone singer from United State guide me this vocalizations, he currently resides in Yogyakarta to study Indonesian folk music during six years.

With Palmer’s help, I found Rino, famous composer in Riau, and Rino also introduced me the famous Dondong singer. And I go to there and meet them. My interview about dondong with Rino took place at the Pekanbaru Cultural Center.

What is Dondong?

Dondong is a song of the deep forests at Kampar province, and the meanings of dondong is Emotion.

What is the images of Dondong in Indonesian traditional musicians ? 

Unfortunately Dondong is under taboo against traditional musicians in Indonesia.

They consider Dondong causes very severe psychological troubles, and the voices of the Dondong are regarded as bad voices for Indonesian traditional musicians.

Muslim traditionalists also watch out for Dondong’s excessive emotion.

But why do you pay attention to Dondong?

I researched Riau’s traditional music and then I want to make my own new music based on Riau folklore, and the special emotions of Dondong are really interesting, especial this is too exotic to me.

If distinguish between yodel and other vocalization, I think we need that two keywords: Taboo and Exotic.  LOL! Dondong was already notorious by that two keywords against Indonesian traditional communities!

Dondong class

Anjang Fitrah, famous Dondong singer in Kampar, sang Dondong for me directly. (A lot of Indonesian called him Giring rather than Fitrah) Let’s learn Dondong according to Giring’s demonstration.

First, let’s listen to Dondong’s full voices. As you can see, Dondong is a singing voice that break two different voices. Any yodelers can understand that singing method of Dondong is structurally very similar to yodelings.

Now let’s listen to the two different voices of Dondong separately.

The first is the head voice. There is no significant difference from the structures of the head voices of the yodel, both that it is beautifully drawn and sent away. However, you have to sing Dondong with a very eager and heartbreaking heart than yodel.

The second vocalization is Throat Singing. Mongolian Khoome is famous for this method of singing, squeezing the vocal cords and sounding throat. The throat singing in Dondong sounds relatively soft compared to the Khoome.

In addition, throat singing in Dondong seems to be closer to the sound that relaxes and rests for a while after a good head voice is backed up. In other words, Dondong is considered little bit easy vocalization compared to the chest voice of yodel, because chest voice in yodel should be broke strong again after the head voice than dondong.

The last parts of dondong is song lyrics. They call it Pantun.

Sianik kembang lai bolun
Kombang dalam lipek pandan
Tolam jo soghiok pun ola juo

Be straight and be puny
Nyawuo masi dalam sipat tuhan
Sayang den cake kau pun ola juo

(the Pantun is not Indonesian, this is Kampar language)

In English, the translation is as follows ;

Sianik* have not yet bloomed,
Flower in pandan* have not yet been folded,
Tolam* and soghiok* are the same.

The sky is still dark,
The earth has not yet opened,
Life is still subordinate by the nature of God,
Unfortunately, you are not here.


* Sianik, pandan, Tolam, soghiok
– all are the names of the traditional flowers in Indonesia

Now let’s listen to the complete Dondong, combining head voice, throat singing and pandun.

How Dondong was made ?

There was a man who lived in some village in Kampar and he fell in love at first sight of some woman in the next village. However, the man was so shy that he could not even talk to her.

The man was suffering from unrequited love went into the deep forest and sang songs with sadness. Dondong was born like this.

So what happened to the man and the woman in the end?

Conclusion: The man’s beloved heart rushed to her, and they fell in love, married and lived well. LOL.

This is the story of the birth of Dondong. The conclusion of the stories of the birth of ordinary folk music is very sad or tragic, but this happy endings of Dondong is very embarrassing. And this seems to be a true story.

More specifically, it’s only been about 100 years dondong was born. How young age it is!


Wondering but unexplained stories

First, Nobody knew who made the first Dondong.  Giring, the Dondong Singer, do not know about the person who made the song first. I asked Giring again.

So who taught you how to sing Dondong?

my teacher named Ari, estimated at 60 year old.

Could I meet him now or during my trip ?

Ari is natural person lives in the woods without coming into the world. It was difficult to meet him now.

Ari also taught how to Dondong by his teacher, of course I think so, and perhaps Ari know the teach of him and I thought Ari might know about the Dondong’s beginner. But Gring do not of that, he just promised to ask Ari later if they will meet.

Why did you learn Dondong? Why do you like Dondong?

He continued to think again and again but failed to give a proper answer. I said by joke, ‘Did you ever learn dondong to cheat a girl?’, Everyone around ours agreed enthusiastically to my questions, Giring abruptly became a serious Casanova 😀

In fact, there were some women who were touched and touched when Giring sang Dondong. Even among those people, there were Indonesian women as well as Australian women. And yet unmarried, Giring is actually very popular among women. Dondong seems to have the power to ring all women’s hearts regardless of race.

According to Giring, Dondong is not singing in voices. Dondong is singing with Heart. If your heart does not ring, no matter how well you sing, you can never sing Dondong.

Dondong, a song that sings with heart

I learned a little how to sing Dodong.

I guess it does not seem to be a very difficult song. But like Giring ‘s words, it’ s like a song that you can never learn unless your heart beeps.

The subject singing  Dondong is the heart . I can not sing Dondong even if I could not imitate it with no heart …

Initially I thought it was like a dump, but I learned a little bit about Dondong and I really agreed.

If my lover not here, – even if that my lover do not know I love her – love will be come true if I sing Dondong with the true heart of the real love. True Dondong is a true beloved heart, and if it is lacking, you can not sing Dondong.

Soon after I broke up with Giring, I had a really unbelievable experience. In that brief moment when I got back to the hotel by taxi, Dondong was constantly heard around me. I was constantly hearing the Dondong sound as if it was coming from my cell phone, but it was not the sound I heard anywhere. And my heart was pretty sick. Where did this sound come from?

The mysterious experience is almost a week ago compared to the time of this writings, so it is practically impossible to convey my feelings at that time.

This is something I can clearly say : Dondong is true. So it is very dangerous to be touched by another musicians. FIN.

Noel Felix, the unique Malacca- Portuguese yodeler in the world

The next article by Daisy Montana, Yodel blogger of the United States, led me go on to  this Malaysian yodeling-trip.

Do they yodel in Malaysia ?: Noel Felix

Noel Felix was a very old yodeler, so in fact I was unclear whether he was alive, but I accidentally got in touch with his son’s friend and found out that he was still alive.

I worried about he not being able to speak English, but his English was too fluent and he looked seem very healthy.  I asked about his age first,  87 years old! , Perhaps he is the oldest yodeler in the world!!

How did you start yodel?

I have been singing since I was a kid (maybe 13s years old )and I have practiced alone. It takes a year to make a yodeling. 

How did you know yodel?

I liked American country music and western movies very much. So I followed and mimicked  it. Even now, I can be done most of the country-famous songs.

Is there a yodeler in Malaysia except you?

I had the opportunity to perform in Malaysia and Singapore, as well as in Germany and Portugal, but I could not find yodeler in Malaysia except mine.

And I was able to listen to yodeling live of  Noel Felix.


O’ Amor

made & sung  by Noel Felix

Oh Amor Yeo Nunker Manda Ku Bos Bai
Tudo Janti Puntia Penskei Yonker Bong.
[Oh my lover, I don’t want you to go
Everybody say I’m not good.]

O’ Maor Meny Korasung Keng Sa Konelt Sang Ja Da
Oh Amor Yo Komanda Ku Bos Bai.
[Oh my lover, you are my heart and
all my love I don’t ask to you to go.]

The lyrics and overall feelings seem to be close to the typical American C & W sentiment.

More interestingly, the song is based on the true story of his youth.  Actually, there was a girl who was very loving in his youth and one day she left for a very handsome man. Like the lyrics, everyone around him said that he had gone wrong

I asked him  again.

Do you now know what you did wrong to her then?

I do not know what I did wrong at the time….I still do not know at all  😦

Noel Felix’s own record – Strictly speaking, Noel Felix is a folk singer of the Serani, Malacca- Portuguese community using Portuguese-Creole.
O AMOR – the 10th song.


The lyrics of ‘O Amor’ are made in Portuguese. I do not know Portuguese, but when I look at the lyrics of this song, it seems that the overall structures of the word is similar to that of Malay language , which seems to be a unique Portuguese dialect of Malacca called Portuguese-Creole rather than standard Portuguese.

I asked about the Portuguese community in Malacca. The people who came from Malacca in Portugal have been maintaining their community for more than 500 years. Why did not they mix with other people …??? I asked.

The answer is:

My religion is Catholic, but I respect Muslims and Hindus and believe not only Jesus but also Mohammed. I respect all. However, marriage to other people as well as religious reasons has many cultural and linguistic barriers. Specially the emotional barrier are the most difficult to overcome.

Photos taken with family of Noel Felix

Noel Felix said that the convergence with other people were a very difficult problem, but I thought  the time would be solved the problem of that the continuing convergence between the Portuguese descendants in Malacca and other peoples.

Their language life is already mixed freely in Portuguese-Creole, English, Malay and even Chinese.

Autograph of Noel Felix’s with the lyrics of “O AMOR” – I will keep this as a treasure 🙂

In such a situation, the song “O-AMOR” of Portuguese-Creole, by Noel Felix, can be said to be a tremendously anthropological value to be kept and preserved.

I did not find proper Portuguese yodel or yodeler yet,
but even Portuguese – Creole yodelings!!!!

In other words, this Portuguese-Creole yodeling is a strong proof that yodel has already been propagated and globalized from a long time ago.

Always be healthy …

हामी २०१५ सालको योदेल दिवसको  बिसयमा केहि कुरा घोषण  गर्न गहिरहेका छौ।

२०१५ सालको योदेल दिवस ‘ बालबालिकाले गर्ने योदेलको ‘ बिषयमा मनाइएको थियो। पछिल्लो बर्ष २०१६ सालको योदेल दिवस ‘ रचनात्मक योदेल ‘ को बिषयमा मनाइएको थियो। त्यसैगरी यस बर्षको योदेल दिवस ‘ दैनिक जीवनमा दिनहु गरिने योदेलको ‘ विषयमा मानाइन गाइरहेको जानकारी गाराउछौ ।


हुन गाइरहेको विस्व योदेल दिवसको मौलिक यत्रा २०१५ सालमा मनाइएको विस्व योदेल दिवसबाट सुरु भएको हो। प्राचीन कालमा रहेको योदेलिङ कला बिस्तारै हराउदै गइरहेको छ। त्यसकारण आहिलेको युवालाई तालिम दिने प्रयास गर्नु आति आवश्यक छ।

यदि हामीले आहिलेको युवाहरूलाई यसबारे तलिम दियौं भने आउदो पिढीले उनीहरुद्वारा यसबारे केहि सिक्न सक्नेछन्। आनुभवी योदेलरहरुको समर्थन , मार्गदर्शन र बुद्धिमता भविस्यको योदेलरहरुको लगि आति आवश्यक रहेको छ। विस्व योदेल दिवसले विस्व भरी रहेका युवा र आनुभवि योदेलरहरुलाई एकत्रित भएर योदेलिङमा रहेका आफ्नो प्रतिभा देखाउने मौका दिएको छ। यसले विस्वमा योदेलिङ कला अझै पनि जिवित छ र त्यसको वृद्धि भइरहेको जानकारी गराउछ।


नयाँ पुस्तामा योदेलिङ कलालाई जीउँदो रख्नु हामीले ताजा र नयाँ आधुनिक पुस्ताको स्वाद आनुसरको आवज सृजना गर्नु आवश्यक देखिन्छ। विस्व योदेल दिवसले योदेलरहरुलाई नयाँ प्रकरको योदेल रचना गर्नु प्रेरित र प्रोत्साहन गर्दछ। वार्षिक योदेल दिवस एउटा योदेलरहरुको लागि योदेलिङ सैलिमा आफ्नो प्रतिभा देखाउने मंच हो। यो एउटा ठाँउ को जहाँ हामी योदेलरहरु आफ्नोे रचनात्मक प्रतिभाको मिश्रणलाई सामान्य जनताको सम्मुने अगाडि बढाउछौ। हामी नयाँ योदेल सृजना गर्ने आशा रख्दछौ तकि आउदो समयमा आउदो पीढीले योदेलिङका बारेमा केही कुरा जनुन।


वार्षिक योदेल दिवस एउटा योदेलरहरुको लागि योदेलिङ सैलिमा रहेको आफ्नो प्रतिभा देखाउन पाउने मंच हो। यो एउटा ठाँउ हो जहा हामी योदेलरहरु आफ्नो रचनात्मक प्रतिभाको मिश्रणलाई सामान्य जनताको सामुन्ने अगाडी बढाउछौ। हामी नया योदेल सृजना गर्ने आशा राखदछौ ताकी आउदो समयको आउदो पीढीले पनि आज योदेलिङको बारेमा केहि कुरा जानुन।

हामीलाई थाहा छ यो त्यति सजिलो छैन भनेर तर सवर्थन , ढाडस , रचनात्मक ब्यवस्था , पुरानो र नया आवजको उचित संयोजकका साथ हामी योदेलको उत्पादन गर्न सक्छौ र गर्वका साथ विस्वमा बाड्ने छौ।

यस विस्व योदेल दिवसमा सहभागी हुने समुहले आफ्नो मुल मौलिक संस्कृति संग सम्बन्धित योदेलिङ कलामा आफ्नो प्रतिभा देखाउने भनिएको छ।

हाम्रो उदेश्यद्वारा हामी आशा राख्दछौ कि योदेल दिवसद्वारा योदेलिङलाई जारी राख्नु मात्र नभएर मनिसहरुलाई आफ्नो मुल मौलिक वा नया योदेलको रचना गर्ने प्रेरणा प्राप्त होस् । हामी योदेलिङलाई प्रख्यत र जिवित राख्ने प्रयास निरन्तर रूपमा गरि रहन्छौ।

Annonce du thème de la journée mondiale du yodel 2017

En 2015, le thème de la journée mondiale du yodel avait été « Yodeler avec les enfants », en 2016, c’était « Le Yodel créatif », et pour l’année 2017, ce sera « Yodeler dans la vie de tous les jours ».


Le thème de la journée mondiale du Yodel 2015, « Yodeler avec les enfants », est la raison même pour laquelle cette célébration a été créée. L’art du yodel est entrain de lentement disparaître. C’est pourquoi nous devons concentrer nos efforts sur son enseignement aux plus jeunes générations, pour qu’elles mêmes puissent le transmettre plus tard aux suivantes. La sagesse, l’expérience, la connaissance des yodelers plus âgés sont indispensables pour parvenir à ce but. La journée mondiale du yodel est une opportunité pour rassembler des yodelers de tous âges venant des quatres coins du monde, et de montrer leur capacité dans cet art. C’est une occasion de faire savoir au monde que le yodel est toujours vivant, pertinent, et qu’il peut intéresser un public de plus en plus large.

LE YODEL CREATIF9h2Ud0156l4247nhlnwy_ohy8wb.jpgbbbUd0151tf7zsnqqpn8m_6zompt.jpg

Pour garder le yodel vivant, il faut créer de nouveaux sons qui pourront intéresser les nouvelles générations. Adaptation est le maître mot pour être en phase avec la modernité. La journée mondiale du yodel est l’événement parfait pour cela, elle inspire les yodelers et les encourage à être créatifs et à inventer de nouvelles formes de musiques et de yodels.


La journée mondiale du yodel est l’endroit idéal pour présenter le talent bouillonnant des yodelers. Mais plus encore, c’est la forge dans laquelle nous pouvons rassembler nos talents pour donner vie à de nouveaux yodels qui enchanteront le public. Nous espérons pouvoir ainsi créer de nouvelles chansons/yodels qui traverseront le temps comme l’ont faits les précédents. Nous savons que ce n’est pas une tâche facile, mais en mélangeant les anciens et les nouveaux sons, en s’entraidant, en s’encourageant, nous pouvons produire de nouveaux yodels, de nouvelles chansons, que nous pourrons fièrement partager avec le monde. Les groupes qui participeront à la journée mondiale du yodel seront encouragés à interpréter leurs morceaux de la manière qui leur plaira: soit en respectant les arrangements originaux soit en en créant de nouveaux. Ainsi, nous espérons que cette journée mondiale du yodel puisse inspirer les yodelers à créer de nouveaux morceaux et non pas à seulement maintenir cette tradition en vie. Nous continuerons à travailler afin que le yodel reste vivant et se renouvelle.

My unique American yodel Trip 1. Why I’d gone to America?

1. Apply to the mind as the spirit of the times of yodel.

Suddenly, I’d experienced United States. I’d never think of  United state’s visiting for my personal grounds, and  I have not any reason to go there.

Swiss based Alpine style and US based Western style yodels was/is sung spread in Korea,

and that two style is classification standard not just Korea but all over the world. That two genre of yodels is gradually seemed to trite things for me, because a sort of my odd(?) ideas. As my yodeling study became more deeper, I interested of yodeling similar vocalization skills as  Yoik, Mongolian Khoomi,and Georgian Krimanchuli etc.

 The Alpine and Western yodeling vocalization  was/is root of my yodeling studies, these two main genre of yodeling vocal is the most valuable tings and I have to been chewed it over and over again. My new interest of this something different vocalization also came from that two yodeling genre from  and the start of yodelings from the Alps and Appalachians. I wanted to contact with that sorts of similar yodeling vocalizations , progressive singers. I thought their free & new ideas fit for me. The main current yodels Swiss or American approached close to World Music, but the other similar yodeling vocalizations, less popular and less treated, be-all and end-all, I thought that vocalizations will provide more basic things.

I believe that ‘Zeitgeist of yodeling’ will have to remain both something of regional and international. Because that mutual understandings between personality and groups are more intimated, furthermore the boundary of mine and yours will be more vague.I thought, our future world will need universal principles based on a personal identity, all yodelers have to establish their new identities as the understandings of variety of different people to people.  So the main subject of yodelings must not remain just praise of nature and homesickness, furthermore must not remain just Swissness or Americana .

I thought I have to try new ideas and I have to meditate the old things again and again.
I thought  Maybe… Koreans can do that?  Because Korea do not origin Yodel-land but our distribution of national-wide yodel clubs, every general persons base of yodeling is not poor than Swiss or United States; we can being enough international things.
Koreans can make both regional and international yodelings. past-Korea had been remote regions, but  now all sort of yodeling stuff will enlarge more and more in Korea. That aspect itself also interesting world-wide universalities. From now on, Korea had been kept unique their own yodeling history but that aspects unknown to the world yodeling communities.
I concentrate on the questions as follows; ‘How can we realize a Koreans yodel?’
We will have to refer to the The third worlds diverse& [little bit similar] yodeling vocalization and world-wide Indi-musicians who involve yodelings in their musics, I thought, that will can provide the hint of our questions.
My first writings of yodeling published at ‘People and the Mountains’, Mountain magazine, on  March 2009.


 2. People and the Mountains – Happy yodeling world with peter
 One day  the chief editor of ‘The People and the Mountains’, some Korean mountain magazines, contacted me.

He said to me, “Can you try to write about yodel in our magazines? ”

I asked again ,  “I heard your magazine’s main subject is Mountains,
I don’t know why do you want to about Yodelings? “
He responded,  ” I think, yodel is representative mountain song. furthermore yodel had been kept long history in Korean mountaineers, but I just known fragmentary things. So our magazines want to make full stories about yodel. We thought Yodel in Korea is one of the important chapters in our cultures, we want to let that valuable things to know another mountaineers, I think this will be our missions also.”
I  talked something provocative as follows; maybe yodel has few connected to the mountains, yodelings not just pleasure music, many yodeling researchers guessed the origin of yodeling not Switzerland but Africa etc.
He seemed little bit confused but also interested my response.
I suggested,
“I’ll write world yodel  first, and then I want to write about Korean yodels.
If you confirm it, I will write it.”
He was agreed with pleasure.
I got the job, and then I though again, because my new job is not a very new things.
I asked myself, Does it meanings anything?  My conclusion will be as follows; “Korea is one of the unique yodel country in the world,  but why Koreans like yodel, and from where that happy songs came to Korea ?”
I thought that subject seemed not bad. I began to concentrate on yodelings.

My yodel story published  every month serially from March 2009.

I was feeling that my yodel knowledge little bit lack, Switzerland yodel is OK, but when writing about Austria and German, I have something reluctant feelings and self-confidence become more disappeared. There were many reasons, the main reason was that I think my writings just let existing fact know to general Koreans, I just wrote about regional traditional aspect about yodel, but I have not visit there except Switzerland. I though it is not fair.
With writings about western yodelings coming up, that  situations make me distressed, so the results will be clear!  Eventually, I have to go to the United States.

To be Continued…