History of Angklung

Long time ago, angklung was an instrument that had religious ritual function. The main function of angklung was as a medium to invite Dewi Sri (rice goddess/prosperity) to come down to the earth and gave fertility to plants. They used tritonik (three tones) angklung, tetra tonik (four tones) and pentatonic (five tones). This kind of angklung usually calls angklung buhun that means ‘the old angklung’ which had not been influenced by other elements. Until now, some villages still use angklung buhun in many ceremonies, such as pesta panen, ngaseuk pare, nginebkeun pare, ngampihkeun pare, seren taun, nadran, helaran, turun bumi, sedekah bumi, etc.

Traditional Angklung


Angklung Baduy

It has not known from where and when Baduy Angklung came. The spread of this angklung was not too wide. It may be because the performance was monotonous and boring.

In Baduy Jero society, Baduy Angklung is used as a performance which support traditional ceremony to respect Sang Hyang Asri or Dewi Sri as an agricultural and fertility goddess. That ceremony is well known as ngaseuk pare, a ceremony held when planting rice seedling in field, and ngampihkeun pare, a ceremony when take the rice to rice-shed.

Baduy Angklung consists of four ‘ancak’ that called King-king, indo, panempas, and gong-gong. Dog-dog and bedug have function to escort song rhythm and song tempo. The players use white or black ‘kampret’, ‘lomar’, and ‘iket’. The total players are fifteen players; consist of nine angklung players, three bedug players, and the other as dancers.

In the performance, angklung and dog-dog escort them who sing and dance (ngalagu jeung ngalage). The song is done by reply each other, while dancing and moving around. The songs are Ayun-ayunan, Bibi Lenjang, Cik Arileu, Hiah-hiah Panjang, Jari Gandang, Keupat Rendang, Lili-liyang, Nganteh, Ngaseh, Oray-orayan, Pong-pok, Salaela, Yandi Bibi, Ketek-ketek, and Pileuleuyan.

Angklung Buncis

Buncis Angklung was first made by Mr. Bonce in 1975 in Kampung Cipurut, Desa Baros, Arjasari, Bandung. It was told that Mr. Bonce worked as a fisherman in a river. One day, he found the river where he put basket trap for fish overflowed because of flood. That flood washed away some bamboos then he took home those bamboos and put in fireplace. After dried, he hit those bamboos and they produced good and clear sound. So, he made angklung. The angklung was named Buncis Angklung. Mr. Bonce made seven sets of Buncis Angklung and sold them to Aki Dartiam. After that, Aki Dartiam combined the angklung with dog-dog and trumpet.

Buncis angklung is played as an art which escort public ceremony or other events that involve a lot of people, such as nginebkeun pare or take the rice from rice field to house, heleran ceremony or guiding children from house to bengkong’s house to do circumcision, wedding ceremony, and other national ceremony.

Angklung Gubrak

Long time ago, Kampung Cipining, Bogor was threatened by starvation because the rice in the rice field couldn’t grow well. The people believed that the calamity happened because of the anger of Dewi Sri who was mourn and didn’t get any entertainment or angry to the people. The people belived that Dewi Sri stayed in the sky and they tried many things to invite Dewi Sri to come to the earth and gave fertility to the rice fields. Many efforts done, such as gave sacrifice, arranged art performance like suling performance, karinding performance, etc. But those efforts didn’t give any results. Dewi Sri didn’t come down to the earth and the plants didn’t grow well.

Finally, there was a man named Mukhtar. He invited his friends to go to Cirangsad Mountain to cut surat bamboo. Afterwards, those bamboos were dried while doing ‘mati geni’ as long as 40 days. Mukhtar processed those bamboos to become angklung. He completed the angklung with dog-dog lojor. He taught the people how to play angklung and organized a ceremony for Dewi Sri and used angklung as a medium. After that ceremony, the plants grew well and fertile. It was believed that Dewi Sri accepted the ceremony and wanted to come down to the earth and gave fertility. Angklung could attracted Dewi sri to come from the sky (in Sundanese, it is called Ngagubrag). Later, this angklung is called Gubrag Angklung.

Gubrag Angklung is played in seren taun ceremony, which is a ceremony held in last harvest. Besides that, Gubrag Angklung also played in family party, anniversary, national days and many other events that involve a lot of people.

Angklung Bungko

Bungko Angklung can be found in Desa Bungko, the boundary of Cirebon and Indramayu. The first Bungko Angklung was believed to be 600 years old. The first Bungko Angklung is still alive, kept well, although it doesn’t have tone anymore. The first Bungko Angklung always enclosed in every performance of Bungko Angklung as an official symbol of that performance.

Bungko Angklung was developed by a figure of society, named Syeh Bentong or Ki Gede Bungko, after used as a performance to escort the Bungko’s village people to fight the pirates. Ki Gede Bungko used Bungko Angklung to spread Islam.

Besides those kinds of angklung, there are many other kinds of angklung that spread in almost every place in West Java. For example, Jinjing Angklung which usually plays as entertainment, angklung without vocal in Kanekes, angklung with susualan in Panamping, Sered Angklung in Tasikmalaya which is the angklung competition for children, etc.

One effort in continuing and developing traditional angklung has been done by Udjo Ngalagena through traditional angklung practice program in his Saung Angklung where the participants should learn and understand about traditional angklung before they learn about modern angklung or other Sundanese arts that have been modified.

Modern Angklung (Padaeng)


In 1938, Daeng, a teacher of Hollandsch Inlandsche School (HIS) in Kabupaten Kuningan, West Java, returned angklung in society successfully by modified angklung to be more modern, from simple instrument that has pentatonic pitch into more complex angklung that has diatonic pitch. This angklung, later, is well known as Daeng Angklung or Padaeng Angklung. Daeng Angklung, if it looks from how to play it and the scale, is possible to reach repertories of popular songs, not only in national music but also west music.

Since he was child, Daeng really liked angklung. When he taught in HIS Kuningan, Daeng learnt about angklung deeply, included how to make and maintain angklung, from an angklung maker named Mr. Djaja. Daeng, who at that time studied in Kweekschool, learnt about west music and tried to make angklung that has diatonic pitch. Daeng thought diatonic angklung tend to be more communicative to be taught in schools. In addition, the people have known more about diatonic pitch than pentatonic pitch.

With the help of Mr. Djaja, Daeng succeed to make a set of diatonic angklung then introduced to the scout children where Daeng himself as a founder. The instrument accepted quickly as an art medium in his scout group, especially when scout meeting and camping. In other hand, Padaeng Angklung in Kuningan became famous in every social class. In 1946, Padaeng Angklung Group was trusted to perform its ability in entertainment night in Linggar Jati Conference.

In 1950, Daeng moved to Bandung and taught in SMPN 2 Bandung. When he was in Bandung, Daeng developed diatonic angklung and was given honor to perform it in Asia Africa Conference in 1955.

The differences between traditional angklung and Daeng Angklung are in the pitch scale and how to play it. Traditional angklung is a hand-angklung that played by a player while Daeng Angklung is made to be played together, where every player plays on a tone and the song harmony can be reached with good cooperation among the players.

As a teacher, Daeng saw that thing as a positive thing in education, especially in character building education. It is reflected in angklung performance that every player should be able to show cooperation, discipline, carefulness, ability and responsibility. As well as basic things in music education, angklung can build the attention of music, bring the life of music, and develop musicality, melody, rhythm, and harmony.

Daeng Soetigna not only succeed to enrich angklung, by developing pentatonic pitch to diatonic pitch, but also meritorious in developing angklung to become modern instrument, involved expanding melody as wide as 3 ½ octave, completed by Accord angklung or Accompaniment Angklung (large and small), to accompany those angklung.

Melodic Angklung have number in each angklung that will be converted into definite tone, coincide with the base not. In other hand, Accompaniment Angklung has definite accord, it will not change although the song played has different base note. Generally, the division of Padaeng Angklung is as written below:

Angklung Development In Indonesia


The Magic of Angklung

Other things which lead to the development of meaningful values in music education are:

  • Increasing awareness on music
  • Emerging music sense
  • Developing rhythm sense, melody and harmony, etc.
  • The other important things of Angklung are:
  • Intellectual/intelligent development
  • Creativity-discipline
  • Emotional and expressions channel in playing music happily.
  • Practice coordinating body movement when following music rhythm in terms of psychomotor nerve development.
  • Some health centres in other country have proved through their scientific findings that Angklung has been a health therapy medium.
  • Furthermore, it is expected that traditional arts be able to stimulate idealism and interests of young generation on the existence of Sundanese traditional arts/music. In addition to this, it is further hoped that young generations also get interested in preserving natural environment.

All stated previously are called the “The Magic of Angklung”.

Angklung and Character Building

From its enchantment and appeal, Angklung has a good effect because of its real function: by the art of Angklung, good values may grow, especially in character building, such as:

Cooperation, Cooperativeness, Discipline, Accuracy, Agility, Responsibility, Etc.