Wonderful Indonesia 2013 Appreciation Night: Sasando Sounds from Rote Island

Tuesday, 31 December 2013 | 1756

The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy presented the Wonderful Indonesia 2013 Appreciation Night at The Ritz Carlton, Pacific Place, Jakarta on 12th December 2013.

Dedicated to the many parties who have significantly contributed to the development of Indonesia's Tourism in the past year, the event was enveloped by the musical sounds of the traditional Sasando from Rote Island.

Hosted by Deputy Minister for Tourism and Creative Economy, Sapta Nirwandar, the Appreciation Night highlighted a number of significant contributions: CEO and founder of MarkPlus inc., marketing expert, Hermawan Kartajaya launched the latest tourism literature entitled "Tourism Marketing 3.0 Book". Additionally, Director of Indonesia's Postal Company (PT Pos Indonesia), Budi Setiawan also launched the Tourism Philatelic series carrying the theme Indonesia's Tourist Destinations.

The Wonderful Indonesia 2013 Appreciation Night, moreover, introduced the Sister City Cooperation between Jakarta (Indonesia) and Melaka (Malaysia), represented by Jakarta Vice Governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and Chief Minister of Melaka Y. A. B. Datuk Seri Idris bin HJ Haron. The cooperation itself placed emphasis on the Heritage Tourism sites of Jakarta's Old Batavia and the Old Town of Melaka that are both legacies of the Dutch Colonial era.

The Appreciation Night was presented in a musical concert entitled The Real Wonder of The World: The Great Indonesian Songbook, Sounds From Rote Ndao. The concert was intended specifically to introduce and further promote the traditional musical instrument of Sasando from Rote Island, in the East Nusa Tenggara Province. It is expected that by bringing the Sasando to worldwide attention, this may improve the economy of the East Nusa Tenggara people. Among star musicians performing were Ivan Nestorman & Dwiki Dharmawan Sasando Orchestra, Lea Simanjuntak, Monita Tahalea, and David NAIF.

The Sasando musical instrument

Originally played by the people of Rote island, located south of the island of Timor , Sasando is a stringed instrument that is plucked not unlike a harp. It is, however shell shaped and has a tube in its centre around which are placed the various strings. The shell, therefore, functions as a resonant box. The Sasando shell is made of lontar or palmyra leaves, that have a tubular center made of bamboo on which are placed at various distances small wooden wedges over which the strings are stretched, providing the different notes when plucked by the musician. As with a guitar, screws are attached to the wood to allow fine tuning.

The Sasando itself, with its lontar or palmyra concave shell, is around 40 cm high, which the musician holds on his or her lap when it is played. The simple sasando has 28 strings, whereas the most difficult one to play has 56 strings. There is also a 32 string instrument. The name "sasando" itself is derived from the Rote word "sasandu", meaning vibrating or sounding. The Rote people believe that the instrument was already in use since the 7th, century.

Unfortunately, amidst development of the latest modern musical instruments, the popularity of Sasando has waned. However, efforts are continuously made to revive this ancient instrument and to have it blend in and fuse with modern musical instruments, creating modern sounds rooted in tradition.