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Reviving Javanese musical instrument ‘bundengan’ from extinction

Bambang Muryanto

The Jakarta Post

Wonosobo, Central Java  /  Sun, November 3, 2019  /  12:38 pm
  • "Bersinergi Lewat Tubuh Tari" was performed during What is Bundengan festival on Oct. 26 in Ngabean hamlet.

    "Bersinergi Lewat Tubuh Tari" was performed during What is Bundengan festival on Oct. 26 in Ngabean hamlet. OF JP/Bambang Muryanto

    "Bersinergi Lewat Tubuh Tari" was performed during What is Bundengan festival on Oct. 26 in Ngabean hamlet.

  • "Bundengan" music accompanies the Lengger Topeng dance.

    "Bundengan" music accompanies the Lengger Topeng dance. OF JP/Bambang Muryanto

    "Bundengan" music accompanies the Lengger Topeng dance.

  • A pantomimer shows how to play "bundengan".

    A pantomimer shows how to play "bundengan". OF JP/Bambang Muryanto

    A pantomimer shows how to play "bundengan".

  • Local musicians Bohori and Munir give a "bundengan" performance.

    Local musicians Bohori and Munir give a "bundengan" performance. OF JP/Bambang Muryanto

    Local musicians Bohori and Munir give a "bundengan" performance.

OF

The name bundengan may not ring a bell for most Indonesians. However in the past, bundengan was a popular musical instrument among duck herders who would play it to kill time while herding the animals. The unique Javanese musical instrument is made from a bamboo cloak-like item called kowangan. Kowangan was a popular item among duck herders who used it to cover themselves from sun and rain while herding ducks from farms to rice fields. These duck herders would usually sit under a kowangan while waiting for the ducks to find food in the fields. During their free time, the herders would turn kowangan into an instrument by inserting five strings between three bamboo blades. The curve-shaped kowangan works as a resonator, producing sounds through string vibration. Uniquely, this modest instrument produces gamelan-like sounds. Despite its limitatio...