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date: 14 November 2019


  • Gini Gorlinski


Xylophone used primarily by the Toba Batak people but also by the Simalungun, and historically, by the Karo (with whom it is now obsolete), all in the vicinity of Lake Toba, northern Sumatra, Indonesia. The neighboring Pakpak play a similar instrument called kalondang. The number of bars varies depending on local tradition and musical context. In the early 20th century, most instruments had five thick bars, 25 to 40 cm long. 21st-century instruments typically have seven or eight bars, although some have a dozen or more. Many garantung are now tuned to a major diatonic scale. The bars are traditionally arranged with pitches descending from left to right (opposite to the normal Western xylophone), but this order may be reversed on some newer instruments.

The term garantung derives from gantung (‘hanging’ or ‘suspended’) because the bars of the Toba instrument are strung together raft-like on two parallel cords and suspended as a unit over a resonator or frame. The Simalungun ...

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Yearbook for Traditional Music