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 West Java. Indonesia is rich of some traditional instruments. Angklung is one of the traditional instruments from West Java which is popular in the world. West Java has not only Angklung or Calung which is made from bamboo, but also various kinds of instruments which are not widely known to the public. Tarawangsa is one of them. This instrument can give magical impression to the soul when being played. There is no definite proof about since when Tarawangsa instrument has appeared in Sundanese land. According to story of Rancakalong people, West Java, Tarawangsa art has existed since the 8th or 9th century. At that time, the glory of ancient Mataram kingdom or Medang was still triumphant. The word of Tarawangsa is called in a number of ancient Sundanese scripts such as Jatiraga or Jatiniskala. In these scripts, it is mentioned that Tarawangsa is musical instrument which is heard in heaven.
The team of Voice of Indonesia –VOI when going to Tasikmalaya some time ago met with Bapak Aseng, a leader of Tarawangsa studio at Cibalong village, Tasikmalaya.
"If I am not mistaken, in the historical book, Tarawangsa has existed at Galuh kingdom, Ciamis or maybe Tasik also entered in Galuh kingdom. So, having wife who created Tarawangsa is an art that is usually played for traditional ceremony. But now, according to the elder, it is for entertainment. If they want to harvest, they are entertained by Tarawangsa; putting the rice into the house is also entertained with Tarawangsa. Thanksgiving to the Almighty because abundant rice, a lot of people call Tarawangsa to entertain.” The Culturist of Tarwangsa Bapak Aseng said.
Tarawangsa is wooden instrument which is played by being plucked and swiped jointly. The instrument consists of sectional stem like guitar and part of fiddle like fiddle of violin. Its string has two strings, the closest string with position of fiddle is played by swiping. Meanwhile, another string is played by being plucked with forefinger. The wood which is used for making the instrument is from tree of Dadap, candleberry, Jengkol, and Kenanga.
The thing, which makes Tarawangsa more unique, is friction tool which uses horse hair. People say, the horse hair produces magical power of Tarawangsa. The tone played in Tarawangsa instrument is usually Laras Pelog in which every octave consists of five, six, or seven tones with different scale. It is accordance with characteristic of Jentreng tone of pelog; with tones da-mi-na-ti-la.
According to pak Aseng, “…The original tone is Lindu. Lindu is basic tones which exist on madenda, degung, pelog, so the basic tone is Lindu.”
Rhythm, which is from Tarawangsa, certainly has its own attraction for people who listen to it. That’s why, most West Java people still consider that Tarawangsa is a holy instrument which is made to entertain Gods in heaven. It causes Tourism Office of Tasikmalaya, West Java to preserve and to introduce Tarawangsa instrument to the public. Dadang, Head Section of Tourism Office of Tasikmalaya explained the Tarawangsa conservation effort.
“…Firstly, it is to coordinate to the artists to attend Tarawangsa conservation because Tarawangsa artist if it is not organized, maybe they will go anywhere. So, there is coordination with related side, especially with tourism office which organizes cultural events in the society and how the way out in order they are also getting spirit in preserving it.” Pak Aseng added.
All efforts are held in order our generation to be able to enjoy amazing Tarawangsa instrument. Hopefully, the efforts will produce the good result for traditional instrument conservation. That was a glimpse of traditional instrument from West Java.