Instruments Used in the Gamelan Beleganjur

Written by charlie higgins
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Instruments Used in the Gamelan Beleganjur
Gamelan belganjur features a number of different gongs like the ones seen here. (gamelan image by Bruno Bernier from

Gamelan belegajur is a style of gamelan marching music native to Bali that usually accompanies traditional funeral processions and other rituals. The music is characterised by hypnotic percussive loops and syncopated cymbal crashes with interlocking polyrhythms. This music comes from a small orchestra of highly specialised instruments, each with its own sonic features and timbre. Variations on instrumentation exists within the genre, but there are staple instruments found in all gamelan beleganjur bands.

Gong Ageng

The gong ageng, which means "great gong," is an important instrument in all types of gamelan music, including beleganjur. The main role of the gong ageng is to separate the main divisions of musical cycles, called gongan. This gong is also played at the end of most gamelan pieces. On a more spiritual or symbolic level, the gong ageng denotes the simultaneous beginning and end of life. Furthermore, the gong ageng is divided into "male" and "female" instruments that vary according to pitch.


The reyong is a large wooden frame from which hang a series of small bronze gongs of different pitches. The eight hanging gongs look like small cooking pots of different sizes. The reyong is usually played by four musicians, each of whom is in charge of two gongs, though there are variations. The pitch range of the reyong spans several octaves. The reyong is a key instrument in most gamelan music and is essential to the sound of beleganjur.


Kendhang is a hand drum used in beleganjur and other types of gamelan. Beleganjur traditionally features two kendhang, the female, lower-pitched wadon and the male, higher-pitched lang. These drums are played by striking the drum head with a single wooden drumstick. The kendhang is considered one of the most difficult gamelan instruments to master because of its challenging polyrhythms.


The kempli is a small hand gong that functions as the beleganjur band's timekeeper or metronome. The instrument keeps a steady pulse that the entire band depends on to stay together. Kempli is also sometimes called kemplar.

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