Sound Characteristics of Angklung as a Musical Instrument

This article will give a brief description of sound characteristic of angklung as a musical instrument and apparent feature of this instrument in performing a song.


The type of angklung that describe in this article is angklung in diatonic scale found by Mr. Daeng Sutigna or also called as ” angklung Padaeng”. The main part of angklung is the bamboo tube which sound is produced. To play the instrument you only need to shake the angklung and the instrument will produce a note. When someone shakes the instrument, the bamboo tube is being hit and produces sound. When angklung is shaken in continuos frequency then the impression of bamboo tube being hit is disappearing but it is still exist. For the case of bamboo in larger diameter in instrument of “bass pukul bamboo” or bass instrument from bamboo (this instrument is played by hit the bamboo tube not by shaking it) the impression of bamboo being hit is disappear and as if the bamboo tube is being blown like a flute or other wind instrument.

Playing Techniques

There are two basic principles to play angklung instrument i.e. shaken “short hit” or in sundanese language called “centok” (as pizzicato in violin). When angklung is shaken, it is said that angklung has good sound quality when it is shaken rapidly (more frequencies). If it is shaken in less frequency then “bamboo hit” impression is dominant and it is worsened when angklung team consists only in small number of players (10-12 players). In shaken technique, the character of the instrument is not completely close to wind instrument since air shaken in the tube is produced by hitting not by air-blowing then sound characteristic of angklung instrument is combination between hitting instrument (percussion?) and wind instrument. During angklung tuning this two characteristics are very important.


This character of hit and blown is certainly affected by another aspect i.e bamboo material. Bamboo is considerably light not as strong as for instance wood or brass. This material effect especially in sound resonance, influence character of bamboo musical instrument. Bamboo musical instrument will produced sound that is “light” even it is in a large diameter, still the impressions and image of bamboo plant which is light, shady, beautiful is apparent so does angklung instrument.

Song performance

Based on two principles of playing techniques songs are arranged and performed by angklung. The shaken technique is often use to expressed song main melody because of unique characteristic of angklung through this technique. To understand more characteristic of this instrument in a song performance, it is also depend on the form of arrangement, type of songs, etc.In implementation of angklung music, angklung can not stand as single instrument mainly because it’s only produce one single note. Angklung Padaeng has two tubes but still produce the same note. The difference is that one tube produces note an octave higher (except for accompaniment type, which consists of three or even four tubes and produce chords).

If angklung played in a team or an ensemble character of group is appear similar to bamboo plant that never stand-alone always grows in a group.

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