|Balinese Flute in Tanah Lot Events|
When you hear Balinese gamelan and give an attention to the melody you will find the sound of suling (bamboo flute), the only wind instrument in the ensemble. Suling are made mainly of bamboo, a long tube bamboo which has very thin surface. The head of suling, near a small hole, is circled with a thin band made of rattan or rotan to produce air vibration. The suling note is scaled in pelog or selendro system, sulings with five finger-holes for pelog system and four for slendro system.
Balinese suling generally plays and embellishes the root melody of a gamelan composition. To play the melody in the gamelan, the suling needs to be played continuously without pausing for breath for a quite long time to cope with this, the suling players use circular breathing – breathing into the lungs through the nose and out through the mouth, allowing them to play continuously.
But suling is not just played as a part of gamelan ensemble in musical performance, in Balinese daily life; the sound of suling is a popular accompaniment for drinking tuak (palm wine). Sitting in an open pavilion overlooking terraces of green rice fields with my cousins accompanied by a bottle of tuak or two and the sad melody of suling is one of my favorite pastimes.