Angklung



The angklung is a musical instrument of Javanese origin, made of bamboo.

Description
The instrument typically comprises two to four bamboo tubes loosely supported in a square bamboo frame, bound by rattan cords.1 They slide to and fro freely when the instrument is shaken sideways, producing a musical note.2 Each tube is tuned by cutting a tongue-shaped segment about two-thirds of its length, and closed by a node at the bottom.3 The tubes sit in a small trough at the base of the frame. Each angklung produces a single note, and smaller tubes produce tones of higher pitches.4


It takes six months to produce one angklung as the bamboos have to be cut, soaked in water, cleaned then dried in the sun before being shaped to get the desired sound.5 Traditional angklungs use the pentatonic scale, but in 1938, musician Daeng Soetigna introduced angklungs using the diatonic scale, known as angklung padaeng.6

Performance
An angklung player holds the instrument in one hand and shakes it with the other. A melody is performed by a group of players shaking angklungs of different pitches. Each performer can hold a maximum of two angklungs, one on each hand.7

History
The angklung in its “crude” form dates back to ancient times, long before the acceptance of the gamelan orchestra, which was introduced into Indonesia with the arrival of Hindu culture.8 It was associated with the hobby-horse trance dancing known as kuda kepang.9 When attractive and more functional Western instruments began pouring in from Europe, interest in the native bamboo instrument waned.10

Angklungs gained popularity in Singapore in the early sixties when Pak Kasur, an acclaimed Indonesian music teacher, was invited to Singapore in 1959 as part of the Indonesian cultural mission.11 While he was here, he made Malay recordings for Radio Singapura’s children’s programme.12 Pak Kasur returned to Singapore in May 1960 at the invitation of the Singapore government under the cultural exchange programme between Indonesia and Singapore, and during his three months’ stay, Pak Kasur taught schoolchildren how to play the angklung.13 Efforts to promote this musical form sustained after Pak’s tutelage. A series of 13 programmes of angklung music in the four official languages were recorded by local bands and broadcast over Radio Singapura in March 1961.14

 

Authors
Lay Tin Koh & Gladys Low




References
1. Waluyo, G. M.-H. (Director). (2010). Indonesia angklung [Video]. Retrieved 2016, March 22 from UNESCO website: http://www.unesco.org/archives/multimedia/?s=films_details&pg=33&id=1681
2. Alias, I. (1972, December 3). The Angklung: Klunging along nicely – this is the background to the sudden popularity of a simple age-old musical instrument [Microfilm no.: NL 7289] The Sunday Mail, p. 9; Kartomi, M. J. (1985). Musical instruments of Indonesia. Melbourne: Indonesian Arts Society, p. 23. (Call No. RSEA 781.9109598 KAR)
3. Alias, I. (1972, December 3). The Angklung: Klunging along nicely – this is the background to the sudden popularity of a simple age-old musical instrument [Microfilm no.: NL 7289]. The Sunday Mail, p. 9; Kartomi, M. J. (1985). Musical instruments of Indonesia. Melbourne: Indonesian Arts Society, p. 23. (Call No. RSEA 781.9109598 KAR)
4. Alias, I. (1972, December 3). The Angklung: Klunging along nicely – this is the background to the sudden popularity of a simple age-old musical instrument [Microfilm no.: NL 7289] The Sunday Mail, p. 9; Kartomi, M. J. (1985). Musical instruments of Indonesia. Melbourne: Indonesian Arts Society, p. 23. (Call No. RSEA 781.9109598 KAR); The ‘klung’ ‘klung’ of angklung. (1982, April 22). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. The man who makes music by bamboo. (1959, August 30). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Waluyo, G. M.-H. (Director). (2010). Indonesian angklung [Video]. Retrieved 2016, March 22 from UNESCO website: http://www.unesco.org/archives/multimedia/?s=films_details&pg=33&id=1681; Alias, I. (1972, December 3). The Angklung: Klunging along nicely – this is the background to the sudden popularity of a simple age-old musical instrument [Microfilm no.: NL 7289]. The Sunday Mail, p. 9.
7. Taylor, E. (1989). Musical instruments of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 38–39. (Call no.: RSEA 781.910959 TAY)
8. Alias, I. (1972, December 3). The Angklung: Klunging along nicely – this is the background to the sudden popularity of a simple age-old musical instrument [Microfilm no.: NL 7289]. The Sunday Mail, p. 9.
9. Taylor, E. (1989). Musical instruments of South-East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press, pp. 19–20. (Call no.: RSEA 781.910959 TAY); Tan, S. E. (1998, November 5). What’s wrong with this rattle? The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Alias, I. (1972, December 3). The Angklung: Klunging along nicely – this is the background to the sudden popularity of a simple age-old musical instrument [Microfilm no.: NL 7289]. The Sunday Mail, p. 9.
11. ‘Godfather’ Pak meets Singapore children (1959, August 20). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5; Ng, C. (1959, August 30). The man who makes music by bamboo. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. ‘Godfather’ Pak meets Singapore children (1959, August 20). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. ‘Bamboo music man’ back in Singapore to see godchildren. (1960, May 7). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Broadcasting of angklung music. (1961, February 20). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Music
Angklung
Arts>>Performing Arts>>Music
Arts>>Music>>Musical instruments and ensembles
Musical instruments--Indonesia