Saturday, July 17, 2010

A beautiful evening spent at Saung Angklung Udjo

Saung Angklung is a lesser known place in Bandung,Indonesia. This in English means Hut or shelter for Angklung. It was established in 1966 by the late Mr Udjo Ngalagena and his wife Uum Sumiati. This beautiful place serves as an art studio,a place for art performance and is also instrumental in providing art education to students as young as 3 years old. All students acquire this training on art for free, since it is a tourism project of West Java based on cooperative values. All this because Mr Udjo believed that Angklung is the art and cultural pride of the Sundanese( Bandung is Part of Sunda region of west java ) and everything possible should be done towards conserving this cultural pride.

The daily performance begins at 1530hrs and ends at 1730hrs.Each visitor has to buy a ticket for 50,000 rupiah (5USD).The entry ticket includes a free drink which offers a choice between fruit tea and and a traditional drink called Bandrek (hot drink made of palm sugar, ginger and lemon grass along with spices and with a generous topping of shredded fresh coconut).I chose the latter and went back for a refill. The performance started at 1530 hrs and a very charming hostess with a peculiar accent kept us entertained in an amphitheatre.

The first thing on offer was a wooden puppet demonstration with a beautiful live background music playing on various Indonesian instruments. The puppet art or Wayung as it is called in Indonesia is very famous art form in this region of west Java. Normal show of puppetry involves story revolving around Ramayana, of course with Indoensian adaptation of the mythological story.  

The next performance was a dance and song procession called Herelan which is traditionally played during circumcision celebration and harvest season. The circumcised boy is treated like a king for a day with all villagers pampering him and singing and dancing in front of him. There is a procession to commemorate the ceremony and this procession is carried out on a palanquin. 

Later what followed was a peek into the varied and beautiful Sundanese culture through Mask dance and Peacock dance.

Thereafter they presented the Angklung and played various universal songs like “peter pat ‘, and” Do Re Mi’. Angklung is an  instrument made from Bamboo arranged vertically . The length of the bamboo and circumference of the bamboo gives the instrument a particular octave tone . Each piece has around six bamboos and seven such parts make one full Angklung . After the performers had performed each of the audience member was given one part of angklung each representing one note of the octave .They were numbered from 1 to 7 denoting the musical notes do re mi fa so li to. And we set to try our hand on playing the Angklung . The sound emanates from holding the instrument with left hand and shaking it from bottom with the right one. The pitch varies from a short shake to a long to a very long shake. After some warm up he made us play songs like” falling in love”. The conductor was giving us signals with his hand and each signal represented a particular note. What followed later was sheer magic when we all played our individual Angklungs in accordance to his hand signs and later a whole symphony based on the numerical notes. It was an orchestra played by the audience and the environment was charged with our collective excitement and love for music. Due to some over excited audience the music at times was totally out of melody, but on a whole it resembled harmony.

Indoneisan culture is full of various forms of dances and music, and each of the 33 provinces have something unique to offer. In the last 15 months of my stay I have rarely noticed an Indonesian who has no understanding of music and melody. Family karaoke are a upbeat trend here and on any given social occasions they are more than willing to exhibit their love for music. Unlike in India where we have to request audience to come forward and sing, here in Indonesia you have to request audience to restrict their participation. I hope to catch a further glimpse of varied Indonesian culture during Cultural Night to be held at our college in a week’s time . Till then Selamat Membaca ( Happy reading )  

P.S. Watch this video to understand Angklung better

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