Calung, A Traditional Instrument from Indonesia


Calung is a musical instrument originating from the land of Sunda which has been developing for a long time in the West Java area. It is usually played together with other musical instruments, namely the angklung which is also a typical Sundanese musical instrument.

Many people think of calung as the same as the angklung, another Sundanese musical instrument.  Although both are made of bamboo, this instrument is played by hitting it, while the angklung is shaken to make a sound. The shape of this instrument is also similar to the kolintang, a typical Minahasa musical instrument. However, it is made of bamboo, while kolintang is made of wood.

Just like angklung which is made of selected bamboo, calung is made of special bamboo called awi wulung and awi temen bamboo. But what distinguishes calung from angklung is how to play it, if angklung is played by shaking it while calung is played by hitting it.

The Different Types of Calung

The type of calung can be divided into two types, namely calung rantay and calung jinjing.  When playing calung rantay, players usually play calung rantay sitting cross-legged, while calung jinjing players carry bamboo that has been lined up and play while standing.

Initially, calung was performed to accompany Sundanese traditional ceremonies as a celebration ritual for the people of West Java, but with the development of the era, calung changed its function into a musical instrument that entertained the community by producing beautiful harmonies.

In the spread, it is also known the third type of Calung that is called as Calung Banyumas. Calung Banyumas is a performing art like gamelan in Central Java.  In Calung Banyumas there are two tone barrels, selendro barrel and pelog barrel.

Calung banyumas is also called calung lengger because it is usually used as an accompaniment to the lengger group dance at events such as weddings, khitanan and traditional rituals.


The History of Calung

It is not known exactly when the calung musical instrument was first made and introduced.  It is believed that this musical instrument existed during the spread of Islam in Indonesia in the 14th century.

In ancient times, the youths played this traditional musical instrument on the sidelines of their work with the aim of repelling birds and other pests in the fields made of split bamboo called kekeprak.  This kekeprak is sounded by being moved by water falling from the shower.

The tool developed into a calung. In the blood of Parung, Tasikmalaya, there is a traditional ceremony called tarawangsa. At the tarawangsa ceremony, calung is collaborated with the tarawangsa musical instrument as a ritual of respect for Dewi Sri.

Along with its development, the completeness of Calung also varies, some only use 1 Calung kingking, 2 panepas and 1 gonggong without the need to use Calung jongrong. Quoting from the official website of the Garut Regency Disparbud, calung is a prototype or forerunner of angklung. 

In the current era, this musical instrument is used to entertain the public in various art performances typical of West Java. Currently, calung is more often used as a performing art that is informative and entertainment which was introduced by students from various universities in the 1960s.

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