The gong is a round and hollow bronze musical instrument with a thick wall and a downward-curving rim. In gamelan, two gongs of unequal sizes are suspended facing each other from a tall ornate wooden rack and are played by striking the knob in the middle of the face with a wooden beater. The club on the beater is padded with rubber straps and sheathed with leather or cloth. As the gongs produce the lowest pitch of all the gamelan instruments, they form the bass of the music.
The gambang is a xylophone with twenty wooden keys of graduating lengths tuned to a specific scale. The shorter and thicker the slat, the higher the pitch whereas longer and thinner ones resonate lower tones. This instrument is played with a pair of mallets handles made of cane. The club is made of wood and is padded to protect the slats when played upon. As the keys are made of wood, the gambang is able to produce a distinctive timbre as compared to other gamelan instruments.
Saron & Demong / Metallophones
Looking like a smaller version of the gambang, the distinct difference between these types of xylophones is that the keys of the saron are made of bronze instead of wood. The six keys are fastened crosswise to the boat-shaped trough which resonate high pitch sounds when played upon.The demong which also belongs to the same family is a larger version of the saron. As the slats on the demong are wider and thinner compared to those on the saron, the pitch produced is also lower. Both instruments are played with a single mallet with the hammerhead made of wood or goat’s horn.
The two heads on the gamelan drum are of unequal sizes. The larger head which produces ‘doh’ tone is covered with cowhide, while the smaller one which makes small ‘cak’and ‘cang’ sounds is covered with goatskin. The frame of the drum is made of wood or coconut trunk which is perforated on both sides. The drum is also the only gamelan instrument which requires no drumsticks, instead it is played using both palms. It is tuned by tightening or releasing the tension of the cords on the body. This musical instrument is also endemic to the people of Asia.
The keromong or boning is a series of ten bronze gongs, similar in shape but significantly smaller than the kenong. Arranged in two parallel rows, the chimes are cradled by taut cords stretched over a sturdy low wooden frame. A rather difficult instrument to master, the keromong is played with two beaters almost similar but smaller to those used with the kenong.
Large Kettle Gongs
Shaped like pots, the kenong is a unique ensemble of three large bronze gongs arranged in ‘L-shape’ on taut cords strung from protruding small and large bosses on the wooden resonating troughs. Supporting these gongs on cords result in better and more unique sounds. This instrument is played using a straight wooden beater with a head which is tightly wrapped with cords.