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The sound of bamboo

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4Sep

The story behind the music band ‘Bamboo Souls’

Dudi Darma Bakti was born in May 1962 in Banndung Indonesia, where he grew up like many other Indonesians – with bamboo. Growing up, Dudi graduated in tourism and later switched to working in agricultural businesses. However, his true passion developed when he learned about the business opportunities provided by bamboo.

Dudi saw in bamboo a crop that can provide multiple opportunities for the local community. He made it his goal to build a bamboo business across the value chain. Although there are multiple business opportunities that derive from bamboo, Dudi was caught by one in particular. It was bamboo music.

“I got my last job related to bamboo music at the Saung Angklung Udjo Foundation, where I worked between 2011 and 2016”, Dudi said. “It is a pioneer of bamboo music. My task was to promote the bamboo music band Babenjo for one and a half years until the band became popular in Indonesia and other nearby countries such as Malaysia, Philippines or Japan.”

Students playing a bamboo music instrument

In 2015, Dudi organised an angklung festival in a few cities in the province of West Java. At this event, he met a few students of the Institute of Bandung art and culture who were eager to form a bamboo music band. Together, they are part of the band ‘Bamboo Souls’, which Dudi manages.

Bamboo Souls produce most of their music on instruments they made themselves. All are traditional to Indonesia, such as the angklung and xylophone. The anklung is a handheld instrument made of tuned bamboo tubes set in a frame. Shaking frame produces musical notes. Due to the hollow structure of bamboo, less effort is required for the production of these instruments.

All members of the band are students who find real enjoyment – as well as a small income – from making bamboo music. All students are personally connected to bamboo, which grows close to their homes and covers large areas of Indonesia, and learned to make bamboo instruments in school.

Making bamboo instruments

Bamboo Souls meets once a week to practice, or more often if there is an upcoming festival. The group is now performing between three to five times a year at Indonesia’s ethnic music festivals, and more often at high schools and other public events.

Bamboo instruments such as those made by Bamboo Souls could provide a unique business opportunity in the future. Dudi has never sold a bamboo instrument, but knows of people who specialise in the sale of these. He also has plans to raise awareness about bamboo music. “I want to arrange a bamboo world festival. I don’t know how yet, but I think it’s important for the world. Everyone says  Bamboo Souls is very good because we are so different. People love the feeling of the sounds and enjoy the music. It is some type of feeling that unfolds in them.  I wish for others to feel the same.”

A video of Bamboo Souls practicing can be viewed here.

Article by Ann-Cathrin Joest with contributions from Dudi Darma Bakti.