Musical Duo: Ubiet & Tohpati


The view of the stage on Duet Musical by Ubiet feat. Tohpati

At Saturday night 21st June, while huge festival celebrating the city birthday that held in the centre of Jakarta, I was riding the outer ring highway and heading 25 km away towards another part of the east side of the city. After 30 minutes later, I arrived in Komunitas Salihara, a well known arts centre which provides arts gallery, theater, hall, class and other facilities.

I have been there once before, for a photography exhibition in its gallery which is also worth to write about later on. My first visit was during midday when I was amazed by the cool-rustic-green architecture building. However, you couldn’t see that much beauty during the night. I wished they could have more decorated light to preserve such a fascinating building. Regardless, it was a great night, great performance!

Celebrating 100th Anniversary of The National Music Legend 

Indonesia, in the 30’s – 50’s, there was one of true talents that people can refer as ‘Legend of National Music’. His name was Ismail Marzuki. He was a composer, songwriter, and musician who produced hundreds of songs. His music career was active during both colonial times by the Dutch and the Japanese as well as the early period of our independence era.

Marzuki was well known for his nationalism-romantic songs with using different genres such as pop, keroncong, seriosa, and others which treated as unusual at that time. Nevertheless, some of his famous patriotic works like Indonesia Pusaka, Rayuan Pulau Kelapa, Gugur Bunga, and other more, became national and compulsory songs until today.

In 1968, 10 years after he passed away, his name was honored for cultural centre, Taman Ismail Marzuki (Ismail Marzuki Park). If you remember, it was where Jakarta Biennale held in the end of last year.

As one out of hundred million others, I also grew up learning his songs in primary school. I think his songs sounds different and somehow unexpected. I imagine the intensity of colonial situation in the country at that time. Yet, he wrote patriotic songs with a touch of melancholic-romantic melody.

The sound of his songs focus on love and beauty of the country that people should have not forgotten when fighting for this beloved land. In addition with easy-to-remember lyrics, I could see clearly why his songs are loved by many people at all times. And later in 2004, he was considered as one of the national hero of Indonesia.

Ismail Marzuki was born in 11 Mei 1914. In celebration of 100th Anniversary of the legend’s birth, two well-known musician in today’s time, performed his famous songs with different music genres, just like the composer’s music style.

Passing The Talent and Passion to The Next Generation 

Nyak Ina Raseuki, or most well known as Ubiet, is respected female singer for her authentic voice in different music genres. The woman who was raised in Aceh until the 80’s, followed her vocal education in Jakarta Institute of Arts and continued in major of Ethnomusicology in University of Wisconsin, USA.

She had performed widely in local and international stages and had collaborated with various musicians. She is known for traditional and contemporary music. Moreover, she enjoys to discover other possibilities in vocal in different singing styles.

In other hand Tohpati Ario Hutomo, or so called Tohpati, is a jazz guitarist and songwriter. He had collaborated with many big musician in the country. He began his music career in the young age of 14 when he won ‘best guitarist’ in a band festival in Jakarta.

After deciding on solo career in the late 90’s, Tohpati continues to dedicate his music in Jazz development in the country that featuring tradition instrument with modern taste.

This musical performance between Ubiet and Tohpati was their first performance. They have similar music idealism  with Ismail Marzuki. Therefore, it was clearly seen how determined their passion for the songs composed by the legend.

The ‘Being Different’ Performance

 Overall the duo performance, what should I say? Epic! It was one of a kind music performance I’ve ever seen. Both of the musician really lived up their names and also Ismail Marzuki’s name. It showed the unique different arrangement genres of music by Tohpati which followed by the craziness vocal by Ubiet. The performance totally blew me away. I had no idea that Ismail Marzuki’s songs could have sounded like that.

In their short MC talk, Tohpati shared to the audience that it was his first collaboration since 20 years, but they didn’t performed it on stage back then. On the other hand, Ubiet highly appreciated the music style of Tohpati that successfully brought Ismail Marzuki in 2014. In fact, she told us that Tohpati’s arrangement was highly difficult and that there wouldn’t be many vocalist want to sing such extreme vocal songs.

Ubiet highly appreciated the music style of Tohpati that successfully brought Ismail Marzuki in 2014

They played 7 songs as their main song-list and 2 encore songs. Each song was played with different genre. If my musical ears caught the show properly, even some of the songs have had mix of more than one music genres.

For instance, the famous ‘Indonesia Tanah Pusaka’ was played in heavy metal while ‘Rayuan Pulau Kelapa’ sounded in jazz mixed with fantasy-like music in the end or ‘Gugur Bunga‘ was in slow rock version. Other genres like classic, keroncong, techno, seriosa, and accoustic were among the rest of the songs.

On the stage of Salihara Theater was only crowded by two talented artists along with modern technology instrument and tools that made the show possible. But it was ended with shocking, trilling, admiring applause from the audience.  I think the music and the passion of Ismail Marzuki was filled the whole theater that night.


Unfortunately, it was not allowed to take picture during the show. Apparently the room was dark and the camera flashlight would bother their performance. So, the picture above is the only one that I took before the show began. However, around 15 minutes before it ended, I noticed that I could actually recorded. I recorded two songs, both were encore songs. The first one was the ending part of the first encore song. And the second one was their short last song of the night.

I wished to turn it into videos on youtube, but you all knows how my skill in video making and editing >__<” Just hoping it is all alright. I shared the dropbox link below. You can download and play it (I play them just fine in iTunes). If any case you want to share it, don’t forget to credit the copyright properly.

Click here:

Encore 1

Encore 2

Original music composed by: Ismail Marzuki

Music arrangement by: Tohpati

Music vocal by: Ubiet

Have a great day!