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Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Sasando is a stringed musical instrument from Rote Island, Nusa Tenggara Timur (Eastern Lesser Sundas). In Rote language, "sasandu" means vibrating or sounded instrument. It's said Sasando already in use among the Rote community since the 7th century. At first glance, Sasando looks similar to other stringed instruments such as guitar, violin and harp.

The principal part of Sasando is a long cylinder commonly made of bamboo. The central is circle from the top to the bottom and there are some wedges where the strings are stretched, from the top to the bottom. These wedges give different tones to each picked string. This Sasando tube was placed in a container made from Gebang (a kind of woven palm) leaves that made like a fan. This is where the resonance of sasando comes from.

Sasando has many strings. Sasando with 28 strings are termed Sasando Engkel. Another type; Sasando Doble, has 56 strings. There's even a Sasando with 84 strings.

Similar to the guitar, Sasando played by plucked, despite Sasando has no chords. Sasando is played with two hands from different direction, from left to right and from right to left. The left hand plays melody and bass, while the right hand plays accord. So this is instrument where the melody, bass and rhythm collide in harmony. It's hard to play, for sure. Perhaps due to that difficulty, the number of sasando player has decreasing. Many of the old generation have died when the young is not interesting to even recognize this.

In the Indonesia got talent 2010 on Trans TV, one of the participants is Berto Pah, the physically disabled from NTT. In this event, Berto Pah shows his skill in playing Sasando. Unfortunately he could not advance to grand final round.

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