Rindik: Omnipresent Sound of Bali
When you arrive in Bali (mostly through Ngurah Rai International Airport), you will likely be welcomed by the soft and soothing sound of rindik. For most of the visitors, the sound of this musical instrument is the first Balinese music they encounter. If you miss it at the airport, you will likely to hear it at your hotel lobbies, restaurants or other tourists haunts.
The moment of initial contact of the visitors with lovely sound of rindik takes place something like this visitor are sitting in a restaurant or entering a hotel lobby designed in neoBalinese style. While they savor the succulent food or admire the elaborate architecture some sort of background music can be heard. The sound of Balinese traditional bamboo instruments they hear is not a recording but instead is being played live by two or three musicians in one corner of the room or staged on an open bale at the edge of the locale. Were you to look in that corner you would see two musicians, which are gently beating out notes on the rindik sometimes accompanied by the third one plays the bamboo flute suling. The soft and gentle bamboo sound is quite lovely, yet can easily be ignored; you can hear it virtually everywhere in Bali, it is perfect Balinese background music.
But what is rindik? Rindik is a set of ten xylophones of different lengths and sizes made of bamboo tubes suspended in a wooden frame. It is played by striking the xylophones with long handled rubber headed mallets. There are two types, each tuned differently: lanang (higher, or “left”) and wadon (lower, or “right”). Rindik is traditional pentatonic scale, called Selendro (saih lima). Some rindik have simple wooden frames, painted with single color, usually green or red. Some of them have elaborately painted wooden frame, with a picture of demon’s head or entangled creepers.
Rindik is played for dancing and entertainment rather than ceremonies. Balinese usually play the rindik as a welcoming music for the guests in a wedding ceremony. Rindik sound softer, sweeter and quieter than bronze ensembles of metal gamelan. The combination of two rindik and a flute is considered excellent for all occasion. The rindiks and the flute all perform the same melody, the flute playing the melody in sustained notes and the rindiks (bamboo pitched percussions which are unable to sustain notes) playing repeated notes. The melody is decorated with an intricate and rhythmically interlocking melody yet very relaxed and atmospheric.