Kelas Karinding,  Music,  Sejarah


Karinding is the first  Sundanesse musical instrument created among the other musical  instruments in Sunda. It is closely related to farming culture and also played on many ocassions in life of Sundanese people.  Karinding then became has its ow place in the heart of Sundanse people. It played in many Sundanesse kingdoms ceremonies and became the people most entertaining music. In West Java, karinding found on ancient scripts such  Pendakian Sri Ajnyana (c. 1400), Sanghyang Raga Dewata (c. 1400), Sanghyang Siksa Kanda Ng Karesian (c. 1400), Carita Pantun Badak Pamalang (c. 1600), Babad Panjalu (c. 1800), and  Babad Kawung. Out side of West Java, karinding is also known as  rendhing (Yogyakarta), kuriding and guriding (Kalimantan), genggong (Bali dan Jambi), saga-saga (Toba), slober (Nusa Tenggara Barat), pikon (Papua), etc. We can find about 80 names of the instrument identified as karinding all over Indonesia ( Together within the coming of industry culture in 1970 and the left of elder cultures and values by the new generation, karinding slowly fading away. It then find its moment to arise in 2000s.

by Kimung

Karinding Attack can be said as one important factor in the development of Karinding in the 2000s. The band which roots in the community of Ujungberung Rebels has successfully introduced Karinding and inspired Karinding observers in West Java and Indonesia to revive, explore, and renew their understanding regarding this waditra (musical instrument). With the basic support of Indonesia metal music networks which had reached its 20 years of establishment in 2008, the personnel of Karinding Attack and the fellows from Ujungberung Rebels found no difficulties to disseminate the information relating with Karinding.  Supported by media spotlights after the AACC Tragedy in February 9, 2008, Karinding seemed to reveal its moment to revive and to be known widely.

Photo 1 Karinding Attack, photo courtesy of Karinding Attack, 2013

The root of Karinding Attack itself is the movement of death metal music from Ujungberung Rebels community, called Bandung Death Metal Syndicate (BDMS). BDMS established in 2005 to provide death metal bands to express their music. In the early 2000s, death metal communities in Indonesia grew fruitfully. Hundreds of death metal band established and were dominated by young people around Bandung. In order to manage this potential, death metal music festival was held, later known as Bandung Death Fest. After Bandung Death Fest III in 2008, participated by approximately 15.000 metal-heads, to 2010 when BDMS performed their great conference at the Common Room, 167 death metal bands in Bandung and surroundings were recorded to have been affiliated with BDMS (Kimung, 2011A : 175, Kimung, 2012 : 689). In the greater community, the mass of Bandung metal music in 2010 was recorded to have reached 40.000 young people, equal with 0, 02% of Bandung citizens.

BDMS also serves as media through which metal musicians of Ujungberung Rebels express their loves of local culture and tradition. At the same time, it commits to discover local wisdom values of Sundanese and Indonesia, their homeland. The spirit of discovering Sundanese local values cannot be understood as the movement of particular ethnic which is susceptible to primordial issues.  In Sundanese community, in particular its “Silihwangian” precepts of silih asah, silih asih, silih asuh is understood as universal values that embodies everywhere and therefore is applicable anywhere. Thus, the BDMS members actively encourage other fellow members and communities in Indonesia to reveal their local wisdom values of each region, develop the spirit of tolerance, and share their creations with other music communities in Indonesia. In BDMS point of view, the varied the music is, the richer the content and movement of Indonesia death metal music (Kimung, 2011B: 12) will be. BDMS itself is committed to exhibit Sundanese traditional art at the Bandung Death Fest. Bandung Death Fest in 2008 was opened by the performance of Karinding leader and also performed Karinding Attack, pencak silat (sundanese martial arts), and debus (ritual display of invulnerability).

Photo 02 Bandung Death Metal Syndicate Logo, photo courtesy of Bandung Death Metal Syndicate, 2012

The close relationship between BDMS and Ujungberung Rebels with local culture is integrated with Sundanese cultural background, agrarian culture, and Ujungberung natural landscape that is located in the foothill of Manglayang Mountain. Here, tens of traditional arts have lived for hundred years, coloring the childhood of the Ujungberung Rebels’ metal-heads, together with the modern and industrial growths that slowly has interfered into Ujungberung Rebels since 1980s. Growing with two cultural tendencies between agrarian and industry has made the Ujungberung Rebel metal-heads become an open community. It absorbs an idea quickly, processes it with Ujungberung music character, and makes it something new, innovative, and massive in the network of Indonesia independent music community. It also inspires any changes in cultural movements that share similar issues. This is what happens to Karinding when this instrument was developed by the members of Ujungberung Rebels (Kimung, 2011: 43).

After Karinding Attack established in 2008, to present day there have been around 250 bands and 4000 karinding audiences comprising of members, makers, players, studios, and karinding music groups in West Java. Bandung conducive atmosphere in musical development has eventually made this city as the epicenter point for the dynamic movements of karinding in the 2000s in West Java and Indonesia. The tradition of independent music community which has been developing for more than two decades in Bandung supports the development of karinding. The music is independently created, produced, disseminated, and performed by the musicians. This eventually forms networks among the observers of karinding. The internet has to be taken into account for its significant role in encouraging this movement. There are at least three breaking record moments of rampak karinding (played simultaneously) recorded by the Museum Rekor Indonesia (MURI—Indonesia Museum of Records) and it reflects the strong networks built by the karinding communities. Those moments were in: MURI’s record breaking in 20 April 2011 in Bandung Regency participated by 370 karinding players in commemoration of Bandung Regency Anniversary, Grand Reunion of Universitas Padjadjaran in 17 December 2011 participated by 515 karinding players, and Bank BJB Traditional Fair 2014 in 18 October 2014 participated by 1060 employees of Bank Jawa Barat Banten.

In 2008 in Bandung, Karinding Attack released a single of karinding music entitled “Hampura Ma” that could be said as the first released karinding recording and was traceable in Indonesia after the recording of “Ciung Kumahkar”. “Ciung Kumahkar” itself had been recorded by Ernst Heins in Banjaran, Bandung, and was released in France in 1968 in the album compilation of Musiques Populaires d’Indonesie, Folk Music from West Java. In 2008 in Bandung, much basic information on karinding were produced and released through internet in the forms of literature, photo, music, and even video (Kimung 2011B: 26). In 2011, the first book on karinding entitled Jurnal Karat, Karinding Attack Ujungberung Rebels which written by Kimung was published. The book captures the early period of information seeking on karinding by the observers and music communities of Ujungberung Rebels and BDMS. It also displays the writer’s daily notes and what activities performed by Karinding Attack in encouraging the revival of karinding in Indonesia (Kimung, 2012: 747). One year following, Karinding Attack released their first album, Gerbang Kerajaan Srigala, in Bandung. This album can be indicated as world first karinding album ever released (Kimung, 2012: 796). Karinding Attack consecutively received biennial national achievement of Indonesia Cutting Edge Music Award (ICEMA) 2012 in the category of The Best World Music Song for “Hampura Ma” and ICEMA 2014 on the same category for the song “Play Free”.

Photo 03 Karinding played in any ocassions in West Java.

First row : karinding played in old ritual called Ngertakeun Bumi Lamba, held in Tangkuban Parahu, 2011; karinding played in one demonstration in front of Gedung Sate Building in Bandung; karinding played by artist Eko Wiwid in front of Presiden Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and wife while he visited Padang Mountin, Cianjur, 2012

Second row : karinding perform of a band Genpas in Blues In The Art Festival 2 2013; music collaboration between Karinding Attack with the most important musician in Indonesia, Iwan Fals

Third row : Karinding Attack’s solo concert, Gerbang Kerajaan Serigala Concert; karinding played in old ceremony called Nyangku in Ciomas, Ciamis

Forth row : karinding played in Cirebon’ Jaga Kali Art Festival 2010; karinding played during the tree planting in greening programme held by Kelas Karinding, Bandung

Other than Karinding Attack, almost 200 bands were born within the period of 2007 to 2012, they explored the musicality of karinding Bandung (Kimung, 2012: 771). The bands were spreading in Bandung City, Bandung Regency, and Bandung Barat Regency, in which Lembang held the highest record by contributing more bands that concerns on karinding— with 87 bands in 2012 as recorded by Lembang Community Association on Arts and Culture. In the period of 2009 to 2014, karinding music production was also released by several karinding bands through their single, as performed by Sasaka, Karinding Militan, Karinding Resistance, Karinding Wiwitan, Karinding Opat, Shalawat Karinding, Karinding Sisi Wahangan, Karinding Motekar, Komunitas Karinding Sukapura, Kartwel Noesantara, The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Additionally, karinding second album entitled The Paperback was released by Paperback in Bandung in 2014. It presented karinding that was collaborated with other kinds of karinding and other musical instruments such as ukulele¸ guitar, bass, keyboard, synthesizer, and drum. 

The emergence of these numerous bands then offered various music colors of karinding in Bandung, which continued to spread to other areas in West Java. At present, other than being played in pelog, salendro, madenda, celempungan, kendang penca, kacapi suling, toleat, tarawangsaan, angklung, degung, gembyung, shalawatan, nasyid, marawis, karinding is also played in many music genres such as metal, hardcore, punk, industrial, blues, jazz, rock and roll, ballads, dangdut, pop, experimental music, world music, and contemporary music (Kimung, 2011B: 463). Karinding is collaborated with various musical instruments all over the world, making it stronger to be understood as waditra—musical instrument that yields various aesthetic expressions of the karinding itself. At particular level, these expressions concern mainly with maintaining quality, significance, and character of the products resulted. As musical products, this so called maintenance also opens product distribution networks which then map the dissemination of karinding. In karinding community, the consumption patterns built is enriched with community development programs by the members, based on the understanding framed at each karinding community (Kimung, 2011B: 457).

Since its early revival, various understandings on karinding has been rebuilt. Various mythologies, folklores, interpretation, fundamental, local wisdom values, philosophy, and the history of karinding are continuously explored, written, and implemented by the observers in their daily activities in accordance with their understanding. Consequently, many musical movements are resulted from this different interpretation on karinding. Some people see it as merely musical instrument and use it to perform on stages in order to yield many music productions. Some people see it as sacred waditra and develop its use in their ritual and cultural ceremonies. Some people see it as symbol of human fundamental life and “naga-ra” and therefore use it to maintain nature and environment by preserving the mountains and their water sources. Some people interpret it as warangka elmu and use it for education and production of sciences. In addition, karinding is also used in creative economy such as distro, clothing, handmade crafts, accessories, and souvenirs relating with karinding, sundanese culture, and bamboo. In spite their personal interpretation, nowadays every karinding player understands the existence of various movements and see these movements as a unity, openness, and coherence of musical instrument with its player that is able to respond towards the surrounding environment.

 Those who merely use karinding as waditra (musical instrument) actively release music and video products, they also organize karinding stage events. These stage events serve not only as media for expressions but also for extending good relationship among karinding communities, and transferring knowledge, technology, and networks to karinding’s  younger generations. In Bandung, there is a regular monthly event called Konser Kelas Karinding at Common Room. In addition, other community such as Sagala Awi organizes karinding and other sundanese culture performances.Almost every month in Lembang, karinding is performed in the events such as band anniversary and karinding’s regular event called Karinding on The Street at Lembang Square. In addition to this, Ciwidey has also started to organize similar events at Ciwidey Square in order to accommodate karinding music exploration from Buana Kidul. In Bandung, Lembang, Ciwidey, Cililin, Cianjur, Ciamis and several other regions, karinding is also performed at the natural and cultural tourism objects and therefore it gives dynamic impacts upon the art communities and the tourism entrepreneurs. Not only collaborated with other sundanese traditional musical instruments, karinding also exists in kaulinan-kaulinan murangkalih (child’s playthings)

Those who use itas sacred waditra, karinding is used in traditional ceremonies around Baduy, traditional villages around Cisolok, Cianjur, Bandung, Limbangan, Ciamis to Kuningan. Karinding is played in the traditional ceremonies such as Mitembeyan, Seren Taun, Muludan, Tumpekan, Ngabangbung, Nawang Bulan, Hajat Lembur, Hajat Buruan, Rarajahan or is played in other traditional events such as sawala and guaran. In addition, it is also played in the discussion concerning particular movement by particular community relating with its goals. In its relation to traditional ceremonies, karinding is understood as waditra that symbolizes human and his role in life as nature preserver. At this point, karinding movement also gives impact upon the preservation on mountains, water source (seke), and the re-setting of land functions in the mountainous areas in accordance with the old rules of the ancient (buhun) Sundanese people who take great effort in supporting the preservation of nature and its human.

 In Ciwidey for example, the existence of Mount Sepuh has significant meaning for karinding communities in Ciwidey and Soreang. It is believed that it is the origin of human civilization, including the birth of Sri Pohaci from the parents of Aki Tani and Nini Tani. The birth of this Goddess was marked with the presence of rice, wood, and bamboo from which karinding was made. The Romance of Mount Sepuh also related to Mount Padang-Rawabogo in the way that Nyai Rengganisti marriage from Mount Sepuh with the ruler of Nagara Padang at Rawabogo. To present day, both Mount Sepuh and Mount Padang-Rawabogo are two main places of the movements of karinding and sundanese culture particularly in Ciwidey and Southern Bandung in general. Not only preserving the culture and tradition, karinding communities also preserve the nature of Mount Sepuh and Mount Padang Rawabogo through various activities such as planting trees, trash management, tourism object management, and training on wood and bamboo crafts in order to empower the economy of the local residents. Now, the karinding communities of Ciwidey-Soreang-Bandung network name themselves as Karinding Buana Kidul.

The activity of preserving mountains is also performed by karinding communities from Cianjur and Cipanas, centered in the megalithic site of Mount Padang-Cianjur. These karinding communities said that they want to discover the tradition and life organization that once existed in Mount Padang-Cianjur and re-implement them. The exploitation in this area as tourism area becomes the focus of the karinding communities led by Sarekat (Sada Reka Karinding Rakyat). They revealed that many constructions were made without sufficient study so that this construction is not in line with nature and culture environment of Mount Padang-Cianjur. Other than actively planting trees, karinding communities of Cianjur-Cipanas also provide training for making wood and bamboo crafts and training for making and playing karinding.

In other region, Northern Mountain of Kendeng has inspired the karinding communities, led by those in Limbangan to Ciamis, to preserve the environment. The Northern Mountain of Kendeng is karst outlining from Kudus Regency to Tuban Regency. In this mountain, thousands of water sources are disseminated. Based on the research conducted by the team of Jaringan Masyarakat Peduli Pegunungan Kendeng (JM-PPK) (Society Association on Preserving Kendeng Mountain) and ASC in Sukolilo Sub-district, there were approximately 200 of active water sources in which the water volume reached 1000 liters per second. The society in Sub-districts of Sukolilo and Kayen use this water for their daily needs, particularly for agricultures (

Later, Northern Mountain of Kendeng became symbol of the movement of karinding communities in the following areas: from Baduy, Cisolok, Mount Gede, Cianjur, Cireundeu, Kendan, Cipancar, Cimaung, Citameng, to Ciomas. The movement itself is the preservation on water sources in the above mentioned areas. This consciousness is supported with the concept of “naga-ra” that relates closely to rivers in Ancient Sunda (Buhun) philosophy. Protecting country is later led to preserving the waters in the first place.  

Photo 04

First row : Karinding community in Citameng, Garut, active in nature reservation by recording the water springs from Darut to Ciamis and merge the water springs into one elder nature order; The karinding community in Ciomas, called Katci, active in the same movement with friends in Citameng, Cimaung, Tasikmalaya, and Ciamis.

Second row : Rahmat Leuweung, the inspiring person who guide karinding scene in West Java to do nature reservation by merge the water springs into one elder nature order, speak in front of Kelas Karinding befor the tree plantation in Punck Salam, Cireundeu.

At this point, karinding transforms into not only waditra but also as the gate that opens up the understanding of the communities regarding its precept, philosophy, and the values of sundanese local wisdom with its comprehensiveness and complexity. Latest knowledge and understanding concerning sundanese issues are continuously developed together with the revelation and documentation of previous values and beliefs. As karinding disseminates, society’s knowledge concerning iket, pangsi, sundanese scripts, even sundanese religion and its acculturation are gradually discovered and reformulated. Karinding also triggers the revelation of other sundanese waditra such as celempung, toleat, tarawangsa, gembyung, terbang, and other forgotten musical instruments. In addition, in-depth study, documentation, and the release of the mentioned arts are continuously performed (Kimung, 2011B: 14).

In order to support the production of the sciences among karinding communities, the pioneering members held workshop and class study concerning karinding anywhere and anytime. In 2006, their actions were known as “syiah karinding” through which the spreading of this musical instrument occurred all over West Java. They played karinding anywhere and taught anybody who was interested in learning it. Commonly, every karinding community member equips himself with several karinding and gives magic spell to the fellows who show enthusiastic interest and strong commitment on developing karinding in their own neighborhood. They can perform particular workshops anywhere (Kimung, 2011B: 94). In 2008, Kelas Karinding wasestablished under the initiatives of Karinding Attack at the Common Room and it soon became the main educational center of karinding in Bandung.      

Karinding also starts to enter schools and other educational institutions. The vast number of school-age karinding players make this waditra popular and gradually becomes one alternative in the teaching of sundanese cultures and arts. This trend has made schools introduce karinding to their students from the elementary level, middle level, or college students for courses of particular subject or merely for after-school activities. In several areas in West Java, pesantren (school of Koranic study) becomes an important element in the development and dissemination of karinding. In Bandung, Lembang, Soreang, Ciwidey, Ciparay, Cianjur, Cipanas, Sukabumi, Garut, Tasik, Ciamis, and several other areas, karinding is taught at pesantren that it eventually results in good music collaborating karinding with religious praises, shalawat to the prophet of Muhammad SAW, and even with Koranic verses. 

Educational activities are also marked with the numerous studies regarding karinding in West Java. Since 2009, there has been tens of papers on karinding, started from middle school papers, course task, final paper of skripsi and thesis, to journals and books concerning karinding (Kimung, 2011B: 458). To present day, the books concerning karinding are recorded in the books by Kimung entitled Memoar Melawan Lupa (Minor Books, 2011), Jurnal Karat, Karinding Attacks Ujungberung Rebels (Minor Books, 2011) and Ujungberung Rebels Panceg Dina Galur (Minor Books, 2012), and also one book written by Puspita tittled The Wondrous Sundanese Musical Instruments of Karinding (Politeknik Negeri Bandung, 2013). The scope of academic exploration comprises the study of history, communication sciences, politics, sociology, anthropology, music composition, show presentation, creative economy, education, acoustic physics, graphic design, movies, and more. The most prestigious exploration currently being performed is the writing of karinding history at Priangan by Kimung from Ujungberung Rebels. This book is to be published in 2015.    

Photo 05 Karinding Books, there are 4 books about karinding in Bandung. Three of them written by Kimung and told the strong relationship between the karinding movement woth metal music scene in Bandung. Another book written by Puspita.

In 2012, Kelas Karinding formulated Kelas Karinding Curriculum that was practiced within 2013 (Kimung, 2012: 845). One of the Kelas Karinding programs listed in the curriculum was Kelas Karinding Concert to be held from November 2013 to along the year of 2014. In return, this concert did not only accommodate the bands around Bandung for their expression, but also became the bond joining karinding communities from Bandung, Lembang, Rancaekek, Cicalengka, Majalaya, Ciparay, Baleendah, Soreang, Ciwidey, Lembang, to Sumedang, Cianjur, Sukabumi, Tasik, Garut, Majalengka, and Kuningan.

Technique improvement in playing karinding is also performed by making karinding with diatonic and pentatonic tones. Previously, diatonic karinding was made by Asep Nata through his karinding towel in 2013. Later, this innovation became inspiration to make tapped-tone karinding by Karinding Attack in 2012. The movement of Kelas Karinding Curriculum and toned karinding can be said as a movement to realize karinding as waditra (the musical instrument) of national education that is taught at schools in West Java and Indonesia.

The karinding movement also performing woman participation actively. Nowadays, so many female musicians and figures appear and coloring the karinding movement. These females, age around 9 until 80 years old, get involved and all said that they have high motivation in continuing the Sunda old culture, specially karinding. In the rise of karinding in West Java, woman proved that they are not only the one who heritaged by the old culture in continuing it, but the initiator, the motor of new karinding culture and has the same level with man in the movement.

Photo 06, Karinding Girl Bands in West Java

First row : Flava Madrim, establish in 2010 perform in Rebel Meet Rebel Festival 2012; Laras, establish in 2011, perform in one festival in Bandung 2012

Second row : Wanoja Karinding and Dangiang Karaton, the both comes from Lembang, West Bandung, active perform in many tourist places in Lembang, 2012

Third row : Motekar and Alamanda, the both come from Rancaekek, perform in many festival in Bandung

The forth row : Srikandi from Cipanas, performed opening  a drama in Cipanas 2014, all personnels have strong basic and relaion with drama and teather; band called The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea perfromed in Ngora Bandung Festival 2014, one of city festival, collaborated karinding music with three important musician in Indonesia, blues guitarist Budi Arab, jazz singer Syaharani, and jazz guitarist Donny Suhendra.

Fifth row : karinding girls from Manggala Junior and Senior High School in Lembur Awi, Ciparay. Lead by Emma Imron, Galur become one of important karinding movement because it is strengthten the role of pesantrens (the Islamic school) in Jawa barat as the center of karinding music development. Many pesantrens and Islamics school in Banten, Sumabumi, Cianjur, Ciwidey, Bandung, Garut, Tasik, and Ciamis, facilitated their students to played and develop karinding music.

Eventually, karinding today has colored many things in West Java. The uniqueness of karinding is that in its simplicity, it blends with people and is played in the most crowded side of life to the most silent side of life. Karinding is present at national ceremony events to the roadside where it is played by street musicians. Karinding is played by everybody and transforms into anything in accordance with the love and understanding about life of the individual playing it. There are numerous sides of karinding movements which cannot be named in this paper. Yet, the study concerning karinding continuously occurs. Many things need to be considered in order to prepare karinding and its position in the world of art, culture, science, and future technology.

Kimung, the real name Iman Rahman Angga Kusumah, 

Is teacher, writer, movie maker, and musician.

The essay (in Indonesia) originally written for the annual journal of International Jewsharp Society 2015. Kimung and Diah Paramitha then re-write the essay and presented it in The 9th Midterm Conference (ESA-Arts 2016), Faculdade de Letras, University of Porto, 2016.



Kimung. 2011A. Memoar Melawan Lupa. Bandung : Minor Books

Kimung. 2011B. Jurnal Karat, Karinding Attacks Ujungberung Rebels. Bandung : Minor Books

Kimung. 2012. Ujungberung Rebels, Panceg Dina Galur. Bandung : Minor Books

Puspita. 2013. The Wondrous Sundanese Musical Instruments of Karinding. Bandung : English Department Politeknik Negeri Bandung


Photo Courtesy

Karinding Attack

Photo courtesy of Karinding Attack

Bandung Death Metal Syndicate logo

Photo courtesy of Bandung Death Metal Syndicate

Karinding in Ngertakeun Bumi Lamba

Photo courtesy of Kimung

Karinding in demonstration

Photo courtesy of Ifan Hielmy

Eko Wiwid with Presiden Susilo bambang Yudhoyono

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Karinding Genpas

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Karinding Attack with Iwan Fals

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Karat Gerbang Kerajaan Serigala

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Karinding in old ceremony Nyangku

Photo courtesy of Eko Wiwid Arengga

Karinding in Jaga Kali Festival

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Karinding in Kemping Karinding

Photo courtesy of Kimung

Karinding Citameng

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Karinding Ciomas

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Kemping Karinding

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Karinding Books

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Flava Madrim

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Wanoja Karinding

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Dangiang Karaton

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Srikandi Karinding

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The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

Photo courtesy of Herman Sutanto


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