The saluang is a traditional musical instrument of the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, Indonesia. It is similar to the flute in general and made of bamboo. It is related to the suling of other parts of Indonesia.
It is made of thin bamboo or “talang” (Schizostachyum brachycladum Kurz), with 4 hole. Saluang more simple than other kind of flute because it is made just adding 4 holes and finish. The dimension of saluang is 3-4 cm in diameter and 40-60 cm in length. Minangkabau people believe that talang which is collected from rack of clothes dryer or found drifting in the river is a good material for making saluang.
Dendang Saluang is one of the traditional musics / song of Minangkabau. It is a combination of ‘Saluang’ (bamboo flute) and Minangkabau classic songs. Saluang is usually played by male musicians, but the singer can be man or woman, sometimes accompanied with talempong ( a small kettle gong which gives its name to an ensemble of four or five talempong, produce a static texture consisting of interlocking rhythms ) . The songs are usually formulated in terms of poems or sonnets carrying special message intended to special listeners such as love message, one’s economic situation.
Saluang player can play that music instrument without interrupting for taking breath from start to end of song. They have developed special breath technique in blowing that instrument without stopping for breathtaking. This technique is also called as manyisiahkan angok techniques (set aside one’s breath)
It’s hard to explain the tuning system that is applied to music saluang. Some of the scales used in the repertoire; intonation often unstable, and there is no absolute system of tunings. To saluang with the basic tone C = DO, we may assume that the principal scales played out as tones do, re, mi, fa, sol. But in reality, the tone sometimes do tend toward the DI (1). Likewise for the other tones obtained by closing half of the finger holes. There are times when players saluang play tunes that are above and below the principal tone.
Style of saluang tune for example : Singgalang, Pariaman, Koto Tuo, Ratok Solok, Cupak, Salayo and Pauah. Singgalang style is quite difficult for the beginners. High skilled saluang player can play many styles and audience can request any style to them.
In the past, Minangkabau people believed that saluang player have pitunang (mantra) or magic power for hypnotizing the audience. That mantra called as Pitunang Nabi Daud.