The Development of Kolintang in Indonesia
In 1962, we left Minahasa (a region in northern part of Sulawesi island) to pursue a higher education at the University of Gajah Mada in Yogjakarta (a college town in Central Java) with a “Kolintang” music instrument.This melodious instrument is made of wood pieces, arranged like piano tuts. The player hits small wooden sticks to each of the “bars” to play the melody. This instrument is usually played with guitar, ukulele (small traditional guitar) and string bass guitar.
This certainly encourages us to start mass production of the Kolintang. After trying several types of wood material, we found that Waru wood(Hibiscus Tiliaceus) is more suitable to use in the Kolintang production. We started using this type of wood in our first production in 1964. We also found out that the best quality Waru wood is found nearby the Rawa Pening Lake in Salatiga. For this reason, we chose the town of Salatiga as the production center.
In addition to producing Kolintang, we also produce other accompanying instruments to replace guitar, “ukulele”, and string bass guitar. In 1969, we ensembled several wooden music instruments, including angklung in a concert performances. With these complete pieces, we sent an orchestra group to several overseas tours to promote this traditional music.
1970 Performed in Singapore for 3 days 1971 Performed in Australia for almost 3 months. We played in more than 50 cities and towns throughout Australia, including in Canberra with the Indonesian ambassador, Mr. Sujitno Sikirno.
1972 Performed in several cities in the United States for almost 2 weeks. We conducted concerts in several cities from New York to Los Angeles.
1973 Performed in Swiss, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, and Amsterdam. Participated in the Independence’s Day celebration in Den Haag (Amsterdam) with the Indonesian ambassador, Mr. Sutopo Yuwono.
We produced Kolintang based on domestic and international orders, including those placed by the Indonesian diplomatic offices overseas. Along with the production, we continuously try to improve the quality of our products and expand the product lines. Our Kolintang products have experience improvements in term of voice ranges and sound quality. Currently, there are more Kolintang produced and played outside Minahasa than the place where it was originated. This trend shows that Kolintang belongs not just to the people of Minahasa, but to Indonesian people as one of the national culture.
Salatiga September 19 ,1999