Tanjidor music is thought to have originated from the Portuguese who came to Betawi between the 14th to 16th centuries. According to historians, there is a word tanger in Portuguese which means playing a musical instrument. This instrument is usually played at a military parade or religious ceremony. The word tanger is then pronounced as tanjidor.
Tanjidor music is heavily influenced by Dutch music. The songs that were presented included: Batalion, Kramton, Bananas, Delsi, Was Tak-tak, Welmes, Cakranegara. Even though the titles of these songs sound Dutch, they are sung in Betawi local language. More Betawi songs were later added to the Tanjidor’s songs collection, including Gambang Kromong songs such as: Jali-Jali, SurilangSiring Kuning, Kicir-Kicir, Cente Manis, stambul, and persi.
Tanjidor develops in the suburbs of Jakarta, Depok, Cibinong, Citeureup, Cileungsi, Jonggol, Parung, Bogor, Bekasi and Tangerang. In these areas there were many plantations and villas belonged to the Dutch.
In the 1950s the Tanjidor orchestra performed ngamen (begging while performing music), especially on the New Year and Chinese New Year. Barefooted or just wearing sandals, they are busking from house to house. The locations chosen are usually elite areas, such as: Menteng, Salemba, Kebayoran Baru, where the Dutch lived. Or they went to the other regions whose residents celebrating New Year. In Chinese New Year, the ngamen period were longer as Chinese New Year is celebrated until the celebration of Cap Gomeh, which is the 15th day of the Chinese New Year.