indonesia corners

indonesia corners

Monday, July 11, 2011

Cultural Heritage Title for Indonesian Angklung

Indonesia soil and climate make the bamboo trees easy to grow. Everywhere we can see bamboo trees grown in almost unused land and at the edge of every garden in the villages. People make benefit from those trees for various uses such as its sprout for foodstuff,  its tubes for the house structure and wall materials as well as for furniture. Last but not least … material for a musical instrument.

Angklung is such a music instrument which made of two bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame. However, it is not like other kinds of music instruments it jingles only one specific tone.  The number of persons required to play angklung music is therefore minimum 12, to make sure that each musical tone is played. But for better performance, orchestra players are usually more than 40.

A good technique is required to shake up the instrument to get better musical sounds. We can shake it up a little bit long or short of moments, a little bit strong or weak and all of those different shakes might result in various colorful sounds.

UNESCO pays special attention to this traditional bamboo music instrument under the consideration that for an orchestra is able to play a good melody requires coordination and good cooperation among the players. In November 2010, UNESCO has an honor to award angklung as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity because of its related philosophical value such as cooperation, respect, and harmony.

The bamboo music instrument has been well-known here since the Hindu kingdoms around 1000 years ago. When the Islamic religion was spread in this archipelago around 500 years ago, angklung was used as a signal of five-time praying. During the era of Demak Kingdom in Central Java around the 16th century, people spread Islamic religion by means of badeng music art, where angklung was the main instrument.

Since then the local tradition to play angklung music sustains mainly in West Java. The local people living around Mount Halimun, Banten, and the traditional Baduy people who live in isolation have a tradition to celebrate the rice planting and harvesting seasons in which angklung is the main musical instrument. 

It was Daeng Sutigna who popularized angklung in 1938, by combining this music instrument with piano, organ, guitars, drums, and banjo. A momentous event happened in 1955 when the music players were invited to perform angklung music in front of the delegations of the Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung.

More recently an event hosted by the Embassy of Indonesia as a part of Indonesia Festival in Washington DC on July 9, 2011, busting the popularity of the angklung music instrument.  A total of 5,200 people of various nationalities used angklung to play the popular song “We Are the World”.

Daeng Udjo was the maestro behind the event, who instructed and guided the novice players to deal properly with the instrument. Voice of America reported that the audiences in standing ovation cried rhythmically his name as the applause for the maestro. No wonder, the event was registered as a new record in the Guinness Book mainly because of the number and the national variety of the players involved.

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