Welcome to the Rhythm of the Indonesian Archipelago, a weekly segment introducing you to Indonesian traditional music and musical instrument from across Indonesia. This week, we’ll invite you to know more about a traditional instrument from Banten.
In today’s edition, we will invite you to visit Banten province. Besides being rich of beautiful nature, Banten also has some unique traditional instruments. One of them is made from bamboo. From the bamboo, Sundanese people make instrument namely Calung. Calung is a prototype of Angklung. Different from Angklung which is played by shaking it, Calung is to play by beating bamboo’s tubes which are arranged in accordance with pentatonic tones. Calung is usually made black bamboo locally called ‘Awi Wulung, but there is Calung made from white bamboo or Awi Temen. Traditional instrument from West Java is categorized as idiophone where body of the instrument becomes source of the sound. While, Calung is categorized as percussion because it is played by beating. In West Java, usually Calung player holds and plays it while standing.
In the past, Calung Renteng was played to keep away birds and pest at the rice field. The instrument was played not only for entertainment but also as honorable ritual to Dewi Sri. Dewi Sri or Goddess is the Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese pre-Hindu and pre-Islam era goddess of rice and fertility. The songs which were sung, contained of praise to Dewi Sri. Over the times, the function of Calung changed. Calung is not used anymore as media of ritual, but as accompaniment of Calungan performance. Calungan performance contains of jokes and folk music. The folk performance is presented by people to people, and loved by all element s of society. The power of Calung Renteng comes from not only its tap but also from its lyrics.
INSERT 2 DADAN SUDJANA :
“…Its lyrics are related to starting from planting rice and waiting until harvest. It is revealed in its lyrics. There are some songs, for example song of Kebo Jiro, signing that when keeping the rice into barn, this means that harvest is over. There is also Lutung Kasarung song related to planting rice. If we know Sundanese people, there is Dewi Padi namely Dewi Sang Hyang Sri, the goddess of rice and fertility. The song sounds like this…‘Allahhuma umur dunia salamat berkat Allah kawula yang di dunia salamat merekat Allah. Naga herang naga lenggang naga panguasa Allah. Turun di berbuk ka sanggap ku guru indra di tanggap ku perdawati’. Well, there are Islamic elements in which there is syncretism between local culture and Islamic culture.”
Calung Renteng consists of 17 segments of Wulung bamboo, which are tied in a row with a rope like Gambang. The arrangement of the bamboos has Salendro or Pelog tone. Earlier, Calung Renteng was only played for entertainment when waiting for rice to be yellow at the field. At development era, Calung Renteng becomes art performance which is collaborated with Gamelan and Karinding. Besides its music and lyric, Calung Renteng could also be meant as relations between human and God in the past and now it is used by Banten people to worship to Allah SWT. This was explained by Tourism Official of Banten, DR. Moh. Ali Fadilah.
INSERT 3 DR. MOH ALI FADILAH :
“…There are 2 kinds of arts. It is related how people to face, and to anticipate the changes which happen surrounding them. Metaphysic always exists in every person and the result of the Metaphysic is translation on natural situations which are different. Being different condition of nature brings them to one direct that we can use art to protect relation with the God and His nature. So, what is in nature, they sing. In the past, Sundanese songs had mixed with the Islamic songs. Now, they consider Calung Renteng becomes media to appreciate beautiful sounds.”
West Java, which is wide, makes West Java typical art and culture spread out until Banten. Most of Banten arts are similar with West Java arts. Although similar, there is difference which signs its own characteristic of every region. As revealed by DR. Moh. Ali Fadilah.
INSERT 4 DR. MOH. ALI FADILAH :
“…I believe if it is not considered original, it must be considered Banten local. And if we will try to refer that its own characteristic of Banten is in Calung Renteng. If we see its basic materials of the songs, the way to beat is almost similar with other places. But the characteristics of Calung Renteng are on its song, rhythm, and situation related to people at the field.”
Surely, every region has difference among the similarities. Every beating and lyric of Calung Renteng are not only song but also all of them have deep meaning which can be interpreted as the way of Banten people worship to the God.