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

Description: The suling is a duct flute that is found through out, Indonesia, Malay Peninsula, Indonesia and the southern most regions of the Philippines mainly Mindanao and Sulu. Through out Indonesia the suling is played in Sundanese, Javanese, Balinese, Borneo [Indonesia / Malaysia] and Maluku.

In the the southern most regions of Philippines, The suling played among the Maguindanaon peoples is the only flute with a ring-duct present among two open-ended flutes the palendag and tumpong. This instrument is also called suling by the Tausug, Yakan, B’laan and Tiurary peoples.

Other names for the suling include the lantey [Ata], kinsi [Bukidnon], dagoyong [Higanon] and babarak [Palawan]. Similarly through out Indonesia it is found in many different regions having their own respective repertoire, playing and construction techniques.

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.

Tuning: 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] through out Indonesia. It is also found in in neighbouring Malaysian peninsula including Singapore, Mindanao and Sulu Philippines.

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.

Pelog Degung: da mi na ti la da [1 2 3 4 5 1],  nearly corresponds to do si sol fa mi do [1′ 7 5 4 3 1] 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] in the Western diatonic scale.

Salendro: da mi na ti la da [1 2 3 4 5 1],  nearly similar to re do la sol fa re [2’ 1’ 6 5 4 2] in the Western diatonic scale.

Mandalungan: a rarely used scale

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

Youtube: Video by Sundakar E. Demonstrating the Sundanese technique of Suling playing; Melody – Kentaar Cisaat.

Citations: 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.

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