Samrah Orchestra (Orkes Sambrah) and Tonil Sambrah

Samrah Orchestra is a Betawi music ensemble. The musical instruments include: harmonium, violin, guitar, bass string, maracas, banjo, and betot bass. In presenting songs, the element of harmonium is very dominant. So the Samrah Orchestra is also called the Harmonium Orchestra. This orchestra is used as a means of entertainment in various events, especially to enliven the wedding reception.

The songs of Samrah Orchestra contain advice and love for fellow beings. Song titles of the Samrah Orchestra include: Assamaualaikum, Buruh Putih, Cendrawsaih, Cik Abang, Godaan Syetan, Musalma, Nangka Muda, Pakpung Pak Mustape, Love Disease, Sawo Mateng, Sirih Kuning, Jakarta Bay, Kicir-Kicir, Senandung Jakarta, Jali- Jali, and so on.

Samrah music is used to accompany dance and tonil. Tonil is a type of theater art. Like the Betawi theater in general, Tonil Samrah is a development of noble theater and stambul comedy. It had appeared in Betawi since around 1918. Tonil Samrah includes complete arts: music, rhymes, dance, comedy, and plays.

At first, all Tonil Samrah players were generally male, because this art held the principle of Islam, which prohibits the mix of men and women in one activity.

In the 1940s, especially during the Japanese occupation, Tonil Samrah suffered deprivation. Only in the 1950s did this tonil reappeared, but its name became the Harmonium Orchestra. After Indonesia’s independence, Samrah tonil was arranged more neatly and prepared such as a theater performance. Female players have been allowed to take part in the performance.