Name: Suling.
Type: Aerophones > Flutes > Duct.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 421.211.12
Country: Indonesia, Philippines.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: A suling or Seruling is a Southeast Asian bamboo ring flute especially in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. It is used in gamelan ensembles. Depending on the regional genre, a suling can be tuned into different scales.

The following regions where the suling is found include Borneo, Bali, Java [Central Java], Maluku, Sunda [West Java] throughout Indonesia. It is also found in in neighbouring Malaysian peninsula including Singapore, Mindanao and Sulu Philippines.

In Brunei, the suling today is played during a cultural festival and other events together with other Bruneian traditional instruments especially the Gulintangan. While in East Malaysia, especially in Sabah with a wide variety of aerophones. the instrument is played by all the interior ethnic groups in the state of Kadazan-Dusun, Murut, Rungus and Lun Bawang / Lundayeh. In Sarawak, the suling is mostly played by men in a Dayak people longhouse.

The Maguindanaon suling is the smallest bamboo flute of the Maguindanaon and the only one classified as a ring-flute the other two bamboo flutes of the Maguindanaon, the tumpong and the palendag are both open-ended flutes. Traditionally only the palendag was commonly played but because of the difficult nature of playing the palendag.

Both the tumpong and the suling have come to replace the palendag as the Maguindanaon’s most common aerophones. Also called suling by the Tausug, Yakan, B’laan and Tiruray. Other names for the suling include the lantey [Ata], kinsi [Bukidnon], dagoyong [Higanon] and a babarak [Palawan].

Playing Techniques: Air is passed through the suling via a blowing hole found at the bottom of the instrument and pitch is controlled via five finger holes on the top and one finger hole located on the bottom. Fingering position and speed of airflow through the duct determine the tone.

The wavelength of the sound resonance is altered by the fingering when the instrument is being played. In Sudanese music the playing techniques here are accentuated with grace notes. Such effects are named as wiwiw, keleter, lelol, gebos, petit, jengkat and betrik.

Tunings: Sulings usually have four or six finger holes. The 6-holed Sundanese suling can play at least three different scales.

Suling Scales
Names Solfeggio Notes
Pelog Degung Da Mi Na Ti La Da C B G F B C
Madenda or Sorog Da Mi Na Ti La Da  F B C A F
Salendro D C G F D

Pelog Degung: The pelog degung Da Mi Na Ti La Da or as represented in intervals, 1 2 3 4 5 1 nearly corresponds to do si sol fa mi do or 1′ 7 5 4 3 1  or C B G F B C in the Western diatonic scale.

Madenda or Sorog: Da Mi Na Ti La Da 1 2 3 4 5 1 nearly similar to fa mi do si la fa 4’ 3’ 1’ 7 6 4 or F B C A F in the

Salendro:  1 2 3 4 5 1 nearly identical to the western diatonic scale Re Do La Sol Fa Re 2′ 1′ 6 5 4 2 or D C G F D in the Western diatonic scale.

Mandalungan: a rarely used scale

Construction: Sulings are made from a species of bamboo “tamiang bamboo” [Schizostachyum blumei, Nees].

Citations: Bibliography: Awang Mohd. Zain Jamil Al-Sufri [1990] ; Tarsilah Brunei: sejarah awal dan perkembangan Islam [in Malay]. Jabatan Pusat Sejarah Kementerian Kebudayaan, Belia, dan Sukan. Keat Gin Ooi [1 January 2004]. Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor. ABC-CLIO. pp. 923–. ISBN 978-1-57607-770-2 ;