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Daeng Udjo: A Value Artist for Value Lifestyle

Author: Zulkifli - Jakarta

Humble and simple. Two things that described the Sundanesse artist. Not many people know, that the man who living in one of ‘isolated’ spot in Bandung has ever visited many countries throughout the world. Being valuable for other person is his life principle.

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Have you ever heard Bohemian Rhapsody? How come the complicated song created by the legendary group Queen can be played by bamboo instrument? But Daeng Udjo have done it well! He and his group performance got great applause from audience. Not only in Bandung, but in other countries which has never seen angklung before. French, Dutch, USA, Mumbay, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, German, Canada, Swiss are some countries that he has ever performed.

Daeng Oktaf Andi Udjo, a simple man who wants to facilitate kids and teens who live surrounding him to express their art ability. In 1995 he began to form orchestra group, called Saung Angklung Daeng Udjo. According to him, to make such a group, minimum five years experiences that a player must have.

Now the group is still exist. Many official government offices have ever invited Daeng Udjo to perfom in their event. What is the main factor that angklung become famous abroad?

“Unique and strange. Those factors make people love it,” he said. After he performed in one country, a classic musician walked to him and said that listening angklung was as same as listening water by the river and bird’s sing. It means, angklung is bamboo. It sounds natural.

“Bamboo is everything. Plates, cups, doors, house, and even weapon to fight Dutch were made by bamboo. So, something that related to nature is interesting. And people from abroad like it.”

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Loving Culture

Loving is one key of success. No one can success without loving his job. He has ever performed ten times in five different spots in Australia and received less than he perform in Bandung 15 minutes duration. But he doesn’t mind it. He loves his job. His orientation is not money, but how to make valuable things for himself, family, neighbourhood, employees and his land.

“Although I’m not a rich man, many people depend on me,” he said. So he does the best things that he can. Sometimes, according to him, we set our mind off to give small things that make people happy. For examples, when a father ask his son to bring a cup of tea, his son is just sitting still. But when the friends ask him to play football, the son stands ready to do it immediately.

“We spend much time to do unvaluable things. But even to do just small things for another, we spend less time”.

Loving and giving seem to him as keywords for life. No wonder he always thinks about being a “head of ant” than “tail of elephant”. Being “ a head” make us giving more than just be “a tail”. Someday, he performed in one of Asian’s country. Representative of the country government offer him a ‘wonderful’ gift: an island!

As compensation, he must teach angklung forpeople of the country. And the end of the ‘agreement’, angklung would be claimed as their original culture. Off course he refused it. For him, money and high class lifestyle is not the goal. Heritage is more valuable than anything. So he went back to Indonesia and keep reviving angklung.

“We are rich in culture. So rich so that we do not care about it. But when another country claims our culture, we get angry and protest. But what we have done to keep our culture?” he asked.

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Loving our own heritage, for him, is necessary  in order to remain it existence. We should be grateful for all culture we have, because it means that we have identities. We do not copy another countries heritages and then claim it as ours. Why do we copy it, if we have the original ones?

Philosophic Artist

Chatting with Daeng Udjo is as same as chatting with a philosopher. He talks not only about music or art, but also value of life that everyone can learn it. Success is not only for himself, but also for his group.

“When we go abroad for the first time to Taiwan as a music group, they pinched each other and ask theirselves, "Is it dream? Are we in Taiwan? ". For them, not only going abroad  but also flying with plane are impossible things to do. Entering Soekarno-Hatta Airport has never thought by them too,” he laughed.

What is the key to make your group performed well?

“They regard it not as a demand, but as an enjoyment. But surely I  ensure they practice well, because they are my instruments. If one instrument off, our performance will be imperfect and influence the songs, as same as when we using computer that 'a'  key doesn’t work.”

Angklung is different from guitar or piano. You can play those by yourself. But angklung must be played and practiced in the group. There are no many angklung groups can exist more than five years. He seriously do the best for his group because he likes it. No wonder Saung Anglung Daeng Udjo always invited by many institutions to perform.

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Before being a traditional instrument artist, Udjo was a teacher. He teach phsycs, math, biology and art subject. He resigned as teacher from the school when he marked ‘4’ for one student who never attend his class. He was pushed by headmaster to mark '6' but he ignored it. So he preferred to leave it than against his conscience.

“School just teach us knowledge, not the value of life. No wonder students do not care about honesty and hard work to reach good mark. For example, what were the questions when we exam religion subject? Only about facts or data, not behavior and attitude. So I left my previous job as a teacher because it didn’t teach values,” he explained.

He told that when his computer modem was stolen by a kid, he didn’t report him to the police. He asked him to work in his house until the salary enough for pay the modem. He prefered the way in order to keep the kid from bad prison environment and teach him about hard work to gain something.

“You know, prison in our country is not a good place to build character. It is a ‘school’ for criminals to become 'professionals'. And I didn't not want the kid turns into a professional criminal. Helping him to be a good kid is more important than reporting him to the police.”

Values.That is what Udjo struggle for. Learning to respect each other, helping people to upgrade their life, to keep our culture exist, and proud to be Indonesian who has rich culture. Angklung is just one of his tools to gain the values.

Copyright (c) Walentina Waluyanti 2019. All rights reserved.