Ensemble of Karinding

Ilham playing palm karinding with extra tools (photo by Andi Gita Lesmana)

By Ilham Nurwansah

Than as a musical instrument that can be played singly, karinding can be played together with several karinding players and also added by other instruments as an ensemble performance.  To play karinding ensemble at least three or more player needed even if it will be better if there are more players. The additional instrument used in the karinding ensemble are celempung, kécrék, suling, toléat, kacapi, kendang and many more depends on the group player’s ability and style. Although several karinding player group in Bandung (capital of West Java province) mixed it with underground, hard rock and alternative music genre. There are many karinding performance package and arrangment depends on its function and the group styles of playing, here are several type of karinding performace.

1.    Karinding Rampak 

This ensemble uses karinding as the main instrument played together with several other karinding players. Rampak means “together” in Sundanese language. Usually there are five players in a group who all of them play karinding in different rhythm. These different rhythms in Sundanese called rahél. Each player plays different rahél and different pitch but in the same beat that makes a fun rhythm harmonization. The playing of karinding rampak needs sense of rhythm and beat to give the right music. If the players have found the right pattern then they can play this ensemble even for hours. The most interesting event to see this kind of playing style was in 2011. There was a breaking record attempt of 370 karinding player played karinding together, and finally they made it!

2.    Karinding-Celempung 

In this ensemble beside karinding that used as main rhythmic instrument, it also used another rhythmic instrument called celempung. Celempung is made of a piece of bamboo tube that the outer skin is pinched and stretched as the “string”. Size and bamboo material of celempung is vary depends on where it is made and the maker style. This instrument sounds like kendang (Sundanese drum) when it played by the player using a stick. The ensemble uses several additional Sundanese traditional melodic instruments too, such as toléot (bamboo trumpet), suling (bamboo flute), kacapi (zither), kecrék (maracas) and also tarawangsa (fiddle). These additional instruments are depended on the ensemble group’s ability and style to be used.
3.    Karinding with Modern Collaboration 

The ensemble of karinding instrument that existed hundred years ago then developed fast enough in West Java and even can be accepted in nowadays globalization era. It is proofed that although there are so many modern influences that come to West Java but tough karinding is still exist. New musical genres got in very fast to Indonesia but one of several traditional music genres that still exist, like karinding ensemble, can be adaptive to the situation and gives new unique musical color if it collaborated with the new music genres. There is one of karinding player group who are very concern to resounding karinding in underground music genre. They are called Karinding Attack band from Bandung (capital of West Java). 

Beside this group, there still many groups who make collaborative project in different music genres mixed with karinding sound. In several karinding ensemble mentioned before, sometimes they are accompanied by songs and dances. The songs are usually in Sundanese language but some others using Indonesian language. In several certain performances, karinding is sacred so that the song lyrics is more like spell or pray and makes the show more mystical. In that performance situation some of group member, or even audience, dance to the reserved arena. The dance is mystical too. While dancing, at some point the dancer will lost their “conscious”.     

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