From Weapon to Musical Instrument: Symbolic Representation of Majapahit (Indonesia) Trident in Modern Electric Guitar Design

Authors: Harry Nuriman (Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia)
Speakers: Harry Nuriman
Strand: Ethnography of Communication
Session Type: General Session


Three-edged spear (trident or trisula), which is a representation of the trinity, can have many interpretations, among others creator, preserver and destroyer, or past, present and future. The presentation of the trident is often found in historical statues or on the walls of temples in Indonesia. The relationship between trident as a heritage and its representation in popular culture is explored as an effort of preservation and to obtain musical experience. For this reason, the researchers decided to design a guitar by adopting a trident shape that has many symbolic meanings, has the weight of local wisdom, as well as bringing traditional cultural arts to the international stage with an audience of rock music that so far may not have been in contact with local wisdom. The meaning contained in the trident is tried to be communicated in performance and visual language. Experiments were carried out to find out how the trident is represented in a modern electric guitar. The result is an electric guitar in the shape of a trident with various features and relevant ornaments. The instrument is tested for maximum playability and achieved Technology Readiness Level 9 according to NASA standards. The representation of the trident in the guitar instrument offers a new experience in music and provides a theatrical effect in performances. In addition, this trident-shaped guitar serves as a pedagogical device for cultural preservation in modern musical instruments.

Keywords: Design, Guitar, Heritage, Indonesia, Trident, Weapon