The word Angklung originated from two words angka and lung. Angka means “tone”, and lung means “broken” or “lost”. Angklung then means as an incomplete tone.
Angklung is a musical instrument made out of two bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame. The tubes are carved so that they have a resonant pitch when struck. The two tubes are tuned to octaves. The base of the frame is held with one hand while the other hand shakes the instrument rapidly from side to side. This causes a rapidly repeating note to sound. Thus each of three or more angklung performers in an ensemble will play just one note and together complete melodies are produced.Angklung is popular throughout Southeast Asia, but originated fromIndonesia and it has been used and played by the Sundanese since the ancient times.
In the Hindu period and the era of the Kingdom of Sunda, the angklung played an important role in ritual ceremonies such as ngaseuk pare,nginebkeun pare, ngampihkeun pare, seren taun, heleran, etc. These ceremonies were inherent to Sundanese communities; in courtly and everyday living. In its function as the ritual medium, the angklung was played to honor Dewi Sri, the goddess of fertility, in a hope that their life and land will be blessed. Angklung is also used to signal time for prayer. Later, in Kingdom of Sunda these instruments were used as martial music in the Bubat War (Perang Bubat) as told in the Kidung Sunda.
The angklung functioned to build community spirit. Because of this, the playing of the angklung was forbade during the Dutch occupation of Indonesia. Because of this, the popularity of the instrument decreased and it came to be played only by children.
The oldest angklung still exist is called Angklung Gubrag. The angklung was made in the 17th century in Jasinga, Bogor. Nowadays, some of those older angklung remain in Sri Bduga Museum, Bandung.
As time flown by, the angklung received a more international attention. In 1938, Daeng Soetigna, from Bandung, created angklung that is based on the diatonic scale instead of the traditional pélogor sléndro scales. Since then, angklung has been used for educational and entertainment purposes and are able to accompany western music instruments in an orchestra. One of the first well-known performances of angklung in an orchestra was during the Bandung Conference in 1955.Udjo Ngalagena, a student of Daeng Soetigna, opened his “Saung Angklung” (House of Angklung) in 1966 as a centre for its development.