Friday 10 April 2015

Sasando (East Nusa Tenggara Indonesia)

One of the most unique traditional musical instruments of the East Nusatenggara Islands is the “Sasando”.  It comes from the island of Rote. The most southern island in Indonesia archipelago. Sasando word comes from Rote word “Sasandu”. It means vibrant instrument.
Sasando music is used within the Timorese community for all kinds of social events, such as celebrating the birth of a baby, a wedding or death. On these occasions, the sasando is played to add the atmosphere, the music performed being chosen in accordance with the nature of the celebration.
Sasando is a stringed instrument that is plucked not unlike a harp.  It is, however shell shaped and has a tube in its centre around which are placed the various strings.  The shell, therefore, functions as a resonant box.
The Sasando shell is made of lontar or palmyra leaves that has a tubular center made of bamboo on which are placed at various distances small wooden wedges over which the strings are stretched, providing the different notes when plucked by the musician. As with a guitar, screws are attached to the wood to allow fine tuning. The simple sasando has 28 strings, whereas the most difficult one to play has 56 strings. There is also a 32 string instrument.
According to Rote legend, there was once a boy named Sangguana who fell asleep under a palmyra tree. In his dream he heard beautiful music played by a unique instrument. The music was so captivating that when he awakened, he was determined to recreate the same instrument and the same music he heard in his dream.  
Although playing this instrument could sound pretty simple, but those who know say that the Sasando is more difficult to play than a guitar.
There are types of Sasando, such as :
1.      Sasando Engkel : Sasando that has 28 strings
2.      Sasando Dobel  :  Sasando that has 56 strings, some type has 84 strings.
3.      Sasando Gong (Sasando Haik)
4.      Sasando Biola (Violin Sasando)
There are two tuning systems used in sasando music, both of which are pentatonic.
1.      used by the people of Rote Island consists of notes which are similar to: c---e---f---g---b---c of western scale.
2.      (the sasando of Sabu Island) consists of notes which are similar to: c---d---e---g---a---c of western scale.

And last, this is videos example of Sasando rythm.

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