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, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore.
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.
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:
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.
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.
The Suling can be many sizes
In Brunei, the suling today is played during a cultural festival and other events together with other Bruneian traditional instruments especially the Gulintangan. While in East Malaysia, especially in Sabah with a wide variety of aerophone, the instrument is played by all the interior ethnic groups in the state of Kadazan-Dusun, Murut, Rungus and Lun Bawang/Lundayeh. In Sarawak, the suling is mostly played by men in a Dayak people longhouse.
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) and a babarak (Palawan)
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.