The Angklung is one of the more unusual instruments in my collection.  My audiences love the sound and usually line up after a show to have a closer look at this ingenious instrument.  I've included some video of people playing angklung as individual notes like in a bell choir, as well as suspended from a frame so many notes can be played at the same time by one person.

I'm often asked where I find the instruments I play.  Believe it or not, I discovered my angklung in a local shopping mall in a store that specialized in nature themed gifts and imports.  I didn't even know what it was until I saw the little sign they had propped up next to it.  I was certain it would be a hit with children, and as it turned out, no matter the age, people are fascinated by it.  That's how the angklung found me! 

Angklang/front  

 

 

The angklung is from Indonesia, and is thought to have originated in West Java.  It is a member of the family of idiophones; instruments made of a resonant material that sound when struck or shaken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angklang/individual notes

 

 

The angklung is actually the name for one note.  Each individual note is made of two bamboo pipes that are tuned in octaves.  The angklung is traditionally played in ensembles, much like a bell choir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

angklang side Many angklung can be suspended from a frame and played by one person.  Mine has only eight notes.  In Balinese mythology, angklung comes from two words:  'angka' – tone, and 'lung' – broken or incomplete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angklang demo pic

The angklung is played by shaking each note rapidly in a back and forth motion.  Hence, the ‘broken tone.’  Historically it has been played to honor, Dewi Sri, the goddess of fertility, but was also played when soldiers went to war, as well as for the planting and harvest season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

b&w closeup of anklang

 

 

The angklung is made entirely of bamboo that is 4 – 6 years old.  It is cut during the dry season, and is initially stored for one week to dry, and later separated and stored for 1 year before being used to make the instrument. 

 

 

 

anklang sideview closeup  

 

 

In 1938, Daeng Soetinga, of West Java, began making the angklung tuned to a diatonic scale so it could be played with other western instruments. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

b&w closeup of anklang

 

 

My instrument is tuned to a diatonic scale in the key of ‘C.’  The scales used for traditional Indonesian music are called ‘pelog,’ and ‘slendro.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

top view

 

 

In 1966, Udjo Ngalagena, founded ‘Saung Angklung,’ or House of Angklung, a place dedicated to the preservation and instruction of the angklung. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “What you are, what job you have chosen, do it well.  Do it with love.  Without love, you are dead before you die.” - - Udjo Ngalagena     

 

 

 

Here is a great example of angklung being played as individual notes in an angklung choir.

 

 

 

 

An amazing example of many angklung that are suspended from frames being played at the same timeI bet you have never heard Beethoven's 5th played like this!

 

 

After reading about my angklung and viewing the videos, I hope you will want to search for more information about Indonesian music and culture on your own.   

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Diane's new single, an original, finger-style guitar tune, "Afternoon By A Stream," is out now on iTunes!

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