By Daniel Ang
With siblings for band-mates, ABODA is a unique Christian instrumental band. They started in 1993 with the entire family—their parents included—playing music and singing under the name Team Worshipper (which later became Worshippers). The band changed its name to ABODA in 2006. Now, it consists of Timothy Noya (piano & keyboards), Fanuel Noya (drums), Philemon Noya (guitar), and Clement Noya (bass).
The word “ABODA” comes from Hebrew, meaning “to work, to serve, to worship.” This name is in line with their vision to “share life stories to everyone who listens to ABODA’s music.”
There are various musical influences that shaped the music composed by ABODA, for example: musicians such as David Foster, Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten, Israel Houghton, Tom Brooks, and renowned drummers Akira Jimbo and Thomas Pridgen. ABODA is often regarded as a jazz band, but ABODA never saw themselves that way. When asked about the type of music that they prefer, one of the band members replied, “The essence of worship is not the kind of music, but the heart.”
In June 2007, they released their debut album “Today in Paradise” under the label Victorious Music Jazz. This album won the award for “The Best Instrumental Album” at the 2008 Indonesian Gospel Music Awards. A year later ABODA published the “Lite Edition”, which included the song “Journey to the Fatherland.”
Journey to the Fatherland
This song was conceptualized when they saw many Muslims returning home just before the Islamic Eid* holiday. From there, inspiration struck them that “this life is actually a journey back to where we came from.” So the “Fatherland” in this song refers to not just our earthly home, but our Father’s place in Heaven.
It’s not easy to judge an instrumental hymn, let alone a completely original one. But we can try to observe closely the atmosphere generated by the musical instruments in this song and try to see the inspiration behind it.
Basically, Journey to Fatherland is driven by a motif or a piece of melody that acts like a chorus. This motif can be found at the beginning of the song, in which the electric guitar and strings from the keyboard blend together. The melody for the motif is easy to remember because it contains one long tone followed by a short tune. It has a very lively but firm character. The second guitar accompaniment is catchy and the drums add to the atmosphere of hustle and bustle. It’s enough to give an impression of the heightened rush that comes with going home.
After the chorus is completed, we hear the guitar solo. A gentle piano chord is held at length to provide the bases for the solo, which is very reflective and gives the impression of nostalgia. By using echo effects at the end of each piece of the melody, it paints a picture of the composer considering the deeper meaning in life amid the activities of going home. The guitar solo ends with a touch of melancholy in which there are brief scales: four long tones down, before returning to a vibrant chorus.
Overall we see the unique juxtaposition of a lively chorus and the improvisation by the band, which always begins with a series of rapid and brilliant tone but then turns into a more melancholic one.
This seemed to illustrate that in the end, going home is nothing than just going home—a very human activity. However, we should bear in mind that this life is a journey of returning home to a far greater place—our Fatherland in Heaven. ABODA is not trying to create a heavenly atmosphere in this song; instead they wanted to depict a realistic reflection and inspiration amid the busyness of our daily activities.
Psalm 84:1-2 reads, “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.” May this be the cry of our hearts too.
*A three-day Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (sawm).
Endnote: ABODA is currently serving at various churches in Jakarta, Indonesia on a weekly basis. The members are all music teachers. In the future, Aboda hopes to go international and help more people see the love of Christ through their works.