Suling ᮞᮥᮜᮤᮀ
Suling with the Kacapi
Woodwind instrument
Inventor(s)Sundanese people
A Native Indonesian boy, playing a Sundanese Suling instrument.
Seruling Gambuh Bali
Suling players (bottom row) depicted on the 8th-century reliefs of Borobudur temple in Central Java, Indonesia
Suling, transverse bamboo flute, Papua, New Guinea. The word suling describes mostly lengthways flutes but also some transverse flutes made of bamboo.

The suling (Sundanese: ᮞᮥᮜᮤᮀ) is a musical instrument of the Sundanese people in Indonesia. It is used in the Degung ensemble. Bamboo ring flute can also be found in Southeast Asian, especially in Brunei,[1] Indonesia,[2] Malaysia,[2] the Philippines and Singapore.[3]


Sulings are made mainly of "tamiang" bamboo (Schizostachyum blumei, Nees), a long, thin-walled bamboo tube. The mouthpiece of the suling is circled with a thin band made of rattan near a small hole.

Playing method

Sundanese suling performer, member of the Gamelan group SambaSunda

To play the suling, performers blow into a gap between the rattan band and the bamboo tube at one end of the instrument.

There are two factors that affect a fine suling's tone:

  1. Fingering position.
  2. Speed of the airflow blown by the mouth.

The fingering position changes the wavelength of sound resonance inside the suling's body. Depending on the distance of nearest hole to the suling's head, different notes can be produced. The airflow speed also can modify the tone's frequency. A note with twice frequency can be produced mostly by blowing the air into suling's head's hole with twice speed.

In the music of Bali the suling is an essential instrument and it appears to be similar to other forms of Javanese suling. The way it is played, however, sets it apart from other forms of Indonesian suling. Namely, it is necessary for the performers to use the technique circular breathing in order to create a highly strung sense of constancy that continues even at moments of dramatic climax by the percussive gamelan instruments.

Special effects

A diagram showing the technique used to play a suling.



Kacapi and suling

In the Sundanese region, a suling is used as


Sulings can have either 4 holes or 6 holes. The 6-holed Sundanese suling can play at least three different scales. Some custom sulings have 7 or 8 holes as additional holes for playing extended scales such as Mandalungan, the transposed version of Degung.

The following picture shows the fingering for a six-holed Sundanese suling.

And below is the example of 'more realistic' view of finger positioning for the pelog degung scale.

Famous Sundanese suling players

The Suling can be many sizes

Suling outside Indonesia

In Brunei, the suling today is played during a cultural festival and other events together with other Bruneian traditional instruments especially the Gulintangan.[6] While in East Malaysia, especially in Sabah with a wide variety of aerophone,[7] the instrument is played by all the interior ethnic groups in the state of Kadazan-Dusun, Murut, Rungus and Lun Bawang/Lundayeh.[8] In Sarawak, the suling is mostly played by men in a Dayak people longhouse.[9]

It is also called as suling by the Tausug, Yakan, B'laan, and Tiruray. Other names for the suling include the lantey (Ata), kinsi (Bukidnon), dagoyong (Higanon)[10] and a babarak (Palawan)[11]

The Maguindanaon suling is the smallest bamboo flute of the Maguindanaon and the only one classified as a ring-flute (the other two bamboo flutes of the Maguindanaon, the tumpong and the palendag are both lip-valley flutes). Air is passed through the suling via a blowing hole found at the bottom of the instrument and pitch is controlled via five finger holes on the top and one finger hole located on the bottom. Traditionally only the palendag was commonly played but because of the difficult nature of playing the palendag, both the tumpong and the suling have come to replace the palendag as the Maguindanaon’s most common aerophones.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Awang Mohd; Zain Jamil Al-Sufri (1990). Tarsilah Brunei: sejarah awal dan perkembangan Islam (in Malay). Jabatan Pusat Sejarah Kementerian Kebudayaan, Belia, dan Sukan.
  2. ^ a b Keat Gin Ooi (1 January 2004). Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor. ABC-CLIO. pp. 923–. ISBN 978-1-57607-770-2.
  3. ^ Fodor's Exploring Singapore & Malaysia. Fodor's Travel Publications Incorporated. 1994. ISBN 9780679026662.
  4. ^ "Endang, Bakat Alam dan Cianjuran". 2006. Archived from the original on 2004-07-03.
  5. ^ "Endang Sukandar demonstration video on Youtube". YouTube. 2004.
  6. ^ Faza Suraj (26 September 2014). "Cultural Week held during school holidays". Borneo Bulletin. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  7. ^ Tamara Thiessen (2012). Borneo: Sabah - Brunei - Sarawak. Bradt Travel Guides. pp. 27–. ISBN 978-1-84162-390-0.
  8. ^ Herman (2009). "Suling". Music Instruments in Sabah (Sabah's Musical Heritage and Future). Flying Dusun. Retrieved 16 October 2014.
  9. ^ The Sarawak Museum Journal. Sarawak Museum. 1990.
  10. ^ Amin, Mohammad (2005). "A Comparison of Music of the Philippines and Sulawesi". Sulawesi. Retrieved June 12, 2006.
  11. ^ de Leon Jr., Felipe M (2006). "Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan - 1993 Awardee - MASINO INTARAY and the Basal and Kulilal Ensemble". National Commission For Culture and the Arts. 2002. National Commission For Culture and the Arts. Archived from the original on July 16, 2006. Retrieved June 12, 2006.
  12. ^ Mercurio, Philip Dominguez (2006). "Traditional Music of the Southern Philippines". PnoyAndTheCity: A center for Kulintang - A home for Pasikings. Retrieved June 12, 2006.