Monday, July 13, 2009

Sweet chiming of local sounds

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Mon, 07/13/2009 11:28 AM | Features

The tricky part about making a set of wind chimes is deciding what to leave out. Choosing which tones to include can be even trickier if the chimes are made from bamboo, glass, shell, stone, porcelain or wood.
 
Tired with the routine of servicing his customers' pianos, Abdul Madjid Gangga decided to create a musical instrument that did not require regular fine tuning. He found his answer in wind chimes.
"When I was servicing pianos, I was thinking about a musical instrument that needed tuning only once ever," Abdul Madjid told The Jakarta Post during the creative industries exhibition at the Jakarta Convention Center last week.
"Although I made a living servicing pianos, the routine of it bored me."
As the material used to create wind chimes can have a large impact on the sound it produces, Abdul Madjid spent four years from 2000 working with all sorts of metals, including bronze, aluminum, copper, brass and steel, to get the best tones from the pipes. He finally settled on aluminum.
At first, Abdul, who graduated in music from Jakarta's Yayasan Musik Indonesia (Yasmi) in 1980, only created wind chimes with heptatonic chords (as used in Western music), but later he turned to making only chimes using ethnic tones, which he said were better understood by Indonesians.
In 2004, he created the first wind chime with tones similar to those of the traditional Javanese gamelan.
Today, he offers nine variations of wind chimes imitating the tones of the traditional musical instruments of Sunda, Bali, Manado, Melayu Deli, Madura, Papua, Betawi and Java. He also creates Arabian, Japanese and Chinese chimes.
Thanks to his skill with pianos, which he had worked with since the 1970s, Abdul was able to find his own formula to determine the tone according to the length, width and the thickness of the aluminum pipes. He also uses his fine-tuning skills to make his pieces pitch perfect.
Madjid uses the basic tone A with pitch 0.0 and frequency 440 hertz. "This tone is similar to piano tones and will never change," he said.
"Nowhere else in the world do people make chimes with tones similar to certain ethnic musical instruments that are set to 440 hertz. These tones will never change."
Abdul Madjid said a friend of his in Virginia in the United States had been conducting research to find out other wind chimes that use specific tone from ethnic music, but had turned up nothing so far.
"Mostly they only cut the pipes without (doing) the fine tuning," he explained.
Abdul Madjid's first customers were those he knew from servicing pianos, but now his wind chimes are finding homes with many people from East Java, Central Java, West Java as well as employees of foreign embassies, churches, Pondok Pesantren and Vihara.
Abdul, who employs eight workers and has patented his instrument, typically receives 25 to 40 orders a month in his workshop in Depok in West Java. His chimes are priced from Rp 350,000 to Rp 5 million per set.
"The most popular chimes are the biggest ones because they have a more complete melody and bass," he said. "Also because the bigger the pipes the more their reverberation is sustained."

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