struck idiophone

Bronze gongs and other metallophones are the most characteristic instruments of a gamelan orchestra, a traditional ensemble from Indonesia that, besides idiophones, also contains other instruments, such as a double-skin drum, a fiddle and a flute. The bringing together of gongs in ensembles goes back to the first millennium AD. Gamelan orchestras vary from region to region as regards composition, use of key and playing technique.

The best-known gong ensemble is the Javanese gamelan, which is called upon on such important occasions as wedding feasts, births, cremations, purifications and circumcisions. The music of the gamelan is also heard as accompaniment to the wayang, the puppet show in which large excerpts from the Indian epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are performed. The composition of the gamelan varies according to the nature of the event. Indonesians ascribe supernatural power to each gamelan and consequently treat the instruments with respect.

detail of gamelan