Protecting ‘Angklung’: Bandung, West Java

Bamboo music performers, cultural activists, artists and other concerned individuals are to attend a seminar on bamboo musical instruments and their future as an Indonesian cultural form organized by Republic Entertainment.

Bandung’s bamboo musicians united a year ago to protect both their music and the versatile plant against a Malaysian proposal to register the angklung as “Malay Bamboo”.

Angklung is a musical instrument made from carved bamboo tubes hung on a bamboo frame, and are shaken to produce notes. Although widely played in Southeast Asia, the angklung is regarded as a traditional Sundanese instrument.

“If the government doesn’t take action soon to stop this move, angklung music, which originated in Indonesia, will be seriously disadvantaged,” said Satria, general manager of development at Bandung’s Saung Angklung (Angklung house). “This proposal by Malaysia could also affect other musical instruments made locally from bamboo.

“This has the potential to create big financial losses for us. We must take real steps to protect our culture, our livelihood and our reputation,” he said.

Satria said Saung Angklung had made strong efforts to popularize angklung music among schoolchildren in Bandung, and to promote it among foreigners who visit the West Java capital. Many are interested in buying the instruments, which are seldom seen overseas.

But these efforts to strengthen the image of Indonesian angklung will be in vain if Malaysia is able to register the instrument as “Malay Bamboo”.

Satria said performers and audiences who appreciated bamboo music feared that the Malaysian move would threaten the development of the art in Indonesia. The angklung was part of Indonesia’s cultural heritage and had to be preserved, he stressed.

The discussion and workshop, Bamboo Talk: Angklung and the Future of Indonesian Bamboo Music, will be held at the Dapurku Restaurant on Jl. Lembong, Bandung.

Featured speakers of the seminar are Arthur S. Nalan, the rector of the Indonesian Arts College (STSI) Bandung, Satria Yanuar of the Saung Angklung Udjo Center, and Budi Supardi from the Angklung Music Society.

Participants also will be provided a special meal created from bamboo ingredients and bamboo garnish.

Committee member Yeddy Hendrawan said the Bandung workshop is to be a prelude to the Archipelago Bamboo Music Festival, which will run Aug. 18-19 in Jakarta.

Similar discussions are planned for Denpasar, Surakarta and Jakarta.

Yuli Tri Suwarni