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Sound of music from bamboo tubes

Special Correspondent


Angklung is a musical instrument made of two bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame.


Photo: K. C. Sowmish

ENTERTAINING:Anasuya Kulkarni plays Angklung, an Indonesian instrument, in Thrissur on Wednesday. —

THRISSUR: There is one thing that Anasuya Kulkarni carried along when she accompanied her husband, an official with the United Nations Development Programme, to different countries: her interest in music.

For long, the couple lived in Afghanistan, Mongolia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Ethiopia, Bhutan and Namibia.

A disciple of violin maestro Mysore T. Chowdiah, Ms. Kulkarni taught Indian music wherever her husband was posted. She also keenly imbibed the indigenous music of the countries she lived in.

In Indonesia, a musical instrument made of two bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame caught her attention: Angklung. The tubes were carved to produce a resonant pitch.

She found that Indian music would sound good in Anglung and started giving concerts. An Anglung concert by her in the Carnatic style was presented here by the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi. She chose a few popular compositions: ‘Ninnukori' (varnam in Mohanam, ‘Vathapi Ganapathim' (Hamsadhwani), ‘Bantureeti' (Hamsanadam) and a kriti in Sunadavinodini. She also played a famous Malayalam song of yesteryear: ‘Kadalezhum Thandi Vanna' (Palattu Kunjikannan).

Kerala is not unfamiliar to her. Before her marriage, she had presented Carnatic vocal recitals in different parts of the State. “Malayalis love all kinds of music. Hence, I have been eager to present an Anglung concert here,” she says. Anglung is an interesting instrument. Two tubes that constitute the instrument are tuned to octaves. The base of the frame is held with one hand while the other hand shakes the instrument rapidly from side to side.

A challenge before the musician is to maintain continuity of notes while shaking the instrument and producing notes.

Usually, several performers play several sets of Anglung in an Indonesian concert. Ms. Kulkarni, on the other hand, uses about 13 sets, one for each note.

She got her Anglung instrument specially made in Indonesia. It looks simple but does not come cheap. It cost her 600 U.S. dollars.

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