Get to know Bonang Musical Instruments: Types, Functions and How to Use

Bonang musical instrument – ​​Indonesia has many cultures stretching from Sabang to Merauke. With these different cultures, it becomes the identity of a tribe that makes it unique and different from the others. We can find that diversity in different languages, clothes, and even musical instruments.

With the existing wealth, it is necessary for us to continue to preserve and maintain our cultures amidst the onslaught of foreign cultures. One way to maintain our culture is to start knowing our culture.

For those of you who like gamelan, you must be familiar with this traditional musical instrument. As an ensemble instrument, gamelan consists of several musical instruments including the bonang instrument. What is a bonang instrument? let’s look at the explanation below.

Yuk Coloring Series: Traditional Musical Instruments



What is Bonang Musical Instrument?

The bonang musical instrument is a traditional musical instrument from Central Java. The bonang musical instrument is one of the instruments used in Javanese, Balinese and Sundanese gamelan music performances.

The bonang instrument is a percussion instrument made of metal, such as brass, bronze or iron. The distinctive feature of this instrument is that it has a protrusion on it which is also called pencu or penclon which is hit with two special beaters. This bat is usually made of layered sticks which are also known as bindhis.

Historically, this musical instrument will certainly have a lot to do with the Hindu-Buddhist transitional era. The bonang instrument is named according to its sound, namely nong-nang which in Javanese means a signpost ” here and there “.

according to the origin of the word, namely nong-nang, its main function is as a guide for the direction of a piece or gamelan song. Apart from that, there are also those who interpret it as an abbreviation of bon which means baboon and which means winner which means master of victory.

Terms in the Bonang Musical Instruments Section

  1. Soko is wood that acts as a supporting leg for waditra
  2. String threads are the ropes as a support for clones
  3. Papalayu is the front and back of the waditra
  4. Pongppok is the end of ancak
  5. Palipid is a wooden slat above the pongpok, as a barrier to clones
  6. Rancal is a wooden frame on a bonang
  7. Brunjung is the first row
  8. Dhempok is the second line.

Types of Bonang Musical Instruments

The most popular bonang instruments can be divided into three different types. Where these types are distinguished by function and also the pitch. Here are the types of bonang.

1. Successor Bonang

The successor bonang is a bonang musical instrument that has the highest pitch when compared to other types of bonang. This bonang has the smallest size compared to the other two types of bonang. In the wasps pipilan technique, the bonang panerus has twice the speed of the bonang barung.

Successor bonangs can reach notes of up to two octaves in typical solo instruments. Because it has a high speed and pitch, the successor bonang can only be used for lead songs. Usually, this successor bonang will be played together with bonang barung in intertwining song patterns.

2. Bonang Barung

Bonang barung is a bonang musical instrument that has a tone with medium to high octave sizes. This bonang has a medium size. In the Ensemble, the Bonang Barung is one of the leading instruments who are the prosecuting instruments and are able to anticipate upcoming notes such as the pepper song technique of the pipilan song.

Bonang barung is also commonly used as an opening and guide in gendhing. In gendhing bonang, bonang barung plays the opening gendhing (determines the piece to be played and guides the flow of the piece.

In the reciprocal percussion technique, the bonang barung does not function as a lead song, but it will form interweaving song patterns with bonang panerus. On important accents, bonang may make sekaran (ornate songs) which are usually at the end of song sentences.

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3. Bonang Panembung

Bonang panembung is a bonang musical instrument that has a tone with medium to low octave sizes. This bonang has the largest size compared to the two bonang above.

Apparently, not every karawitan artist has a bonang panembung, Sinaumed’s. Bonang Panembung is rarely owned by the general public except for the royal family. Usually this bonang is in Yogyakarta style gamelan instruments.

Bonang Musical Instrument Structure

Bonang has many clones, namely between 14 to 16 pieces, starting with the highest note 1 to the lowest note 1 of 3 octaves.

These clones are arranged on a support by placing the smallest clone on the right end of the player, the smallest clone is the clone with the highest pitch, sequentially until the biggest clone which is also the lowest note is placed on the far left of the player.

The bonang form of the slendro barrel generally consists of 10-14 different tones with the same or parallel position. Meanwhile bonang laras pelog, consisting of 14-18 notes which are also placed in parallel positions. This is adjusted to the sequence of notes on the Degung scale or scale.

Bonang musical instrument function

In general, the bonang is indeed more synonymous with traditional music playing in Indonesia, for those of you who like gamelan, you will often see this musical instrument at several events. However, to find out more, here are the functions of the bonang musical instrument, which is often used as accompaniment.

  1. Accompaniment in art performances of wayang kulit, wayang golek, and wayang orang.
  2. Participate in a parade or competition
  3. Accompaniment of sacred state ceremonies (in the past, bonang was used as an accompaniment during wars as mardagga)
  4. Accompaniment of traditional customary events such as seven monthly and circumcision
  5. In addition, in ancient times this instrument became an accompaniment during wars.

Techniques for Playing Bonang Musical Instruments

To produce a beautiful sound, this instrument is played using wood that has been covered with cloth at the ends, commonly known as bindhi. The bonang player usually sits in the middle on either side of a row of low octave gongs, and holds a bindhi in both hands.

Here are the various techniques for playing the bonang instrument.

1. Two Tones Beating Simultaneously

The first technique is to beat two notes together. This technique has 2 kinds of punching techniques, namely gembyang kempyang.

In the gembyang technique, the bonang player hits the same two notes simultaneously at different octave ranges. For example, a low tone of 2 hits with a high tone of 2, or a low tone of 1 is hit together with a high tone of 1.

In contrast, for the kempyung technique, the bonang players hit two different notes simultaneously

2. Tones Beat One by One (Mipil)

Derived from the word pipil which in Javanese means taking corn kernels one by one. Similar to the name, in this technique, you hit the bonang one by one the notes of the pencon.

The mipil pattern for each type of bonang is done in the opposite way. For example, when Bonang Barung was hit using the Mipil Lombo technique, the successor Bonang used the Mipil Lados technique.

3. Mipil Lombo Technique

This technique is when the bonang barung instrument is in rhythm one, then the successor bonang uses mipil dados.

4. Mipil Dados Technique

This technique occurs when the bonang barung is in rhythm two, so that the successor bonang will play the triangular pattern.

5. Mbalung

In this technique, the bonang instrument is beaten with a pattern resembling a balungan musical instrument.

6. Ramp

In the propagation technique, the bonang instrument will follow the standard pattern of the gender instrument. But propagation is usually done before the propagation patterns on gender instruments. This technique is played before certain notes to produce a sound that is more pleasant to hear. This propagation style is often used for several sacred and special cultural customs events.

7. Rewards

This compensation technique is simply similar to the technique used in the balungan musical instrument. The wasp pattern of rewards is performed by playing a pair of bonang musical instruments, namely the bonang barung and bonang successors. This compensation technique is often used in a traditional or cultural event such as a procession, musical performance or circumcision event.

8. Hanging Gembyang

Gembyang Hanging is a technique that is usually applied to parts of the drum where there are twin tones or certain balungan tones. This technique is also often combined with genderan twisting. If the drum is crooked, then the technique for playing the bonang also uses a hanging gembyang pattern.

9. Gembyung and Kempyung

Of course, this technique is different from the first one, Kempyung is 2 notes that are separated from 2 other notes. While Gembyung means 2 notes that are 1 tone apart from the others.

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Playing bonang with this technique is done together. means the technique of beating the bonang using 2 hands on 2 different notes at the same time.

10. Gembyang Midak

This gembyang technique is generally applied or played in the buko section and the suwuk gending section by bonang barung. This bonang barung musical instrument is especially in the style of Jogja or the area of ​​the Matraman sultanate. Gembyang midak has 2 models that are commonly used, namely gembyang midak lombo and dados.

Dhalang, Wayang, and Gamelan



Steps to Play the Bonang Musical Instrument

Well Sinaumed’s, we already know the techniques commonly used on this musical instrument. The following are the steps for playing the bonang instrument.

  1. Prepare in advance a beater or drummer made of wood that has been wrapped in cloth and yarn.
  2. Then hold the bat in your left hand as well as your right hand.
  3. Hit the Bonang music in the middle of the penlock to produce the right tone or sound.
  4. Bonang music can also be played by hitting two Bonang keynotes at once.
  5. Use the mipil technique, namely by hitting the notes one by one on the Bonang clone.

How to Make Bonang Musical Instruments

In addition to knowing the meaning, techniques and types. See the explanation below about how to make a bonang instrument.

  1. Prepare in advance a block with a predetermined size, where the block will be used as the body of the Bonang musical instrument.
  2. Then for the legs of Bonang music, we will use 4 smaller blocks.
  3. The four small blocks will be used as legs, then later attached to the body of the bonang, which is the large block.
  4. Then prepare 12 spheres and cylinders, and combine them. This section is used as a disc for this Bonang music.
  5. Then make 2 beaters for the Bonang music. The way to make it is by combining two spheres with one to create a cylinder that has a long and flat shape.
  6. Make cylinders with small and large sizes, make as many as two. Where on each base the cylinder will be joined by two spheres.
  7. Bring together all the body parts of Bonang music, be it from the right side or the top left side.

Gamelan Types

Bonang is a musical instrument that is played with other musical instruments in a gamelan performance. We already know what a bonang is in more detail. Now, we need to know that the gamelan itself has several differences that distinguish both the composition of the musical instruments and their needs. Here is an explanation.

1. Big Gamelan

This type of gamelan consists of a complete ricikan, starting from slendro tunings to pelog tunings. This type of gamelan is commonly used in concerts or musical performances or uyon-uyon.

2. Wayang Gamelan

As can be seen from its name, this type of gamelan is usually used to accompany wayang performances. Gamelan laras pelog is also used for gamelan that accompanies wayang madya and wayang gedog performances.

3. Gamelan pakcermat

This gamelan is divided into three parts, namely, monggang, caribbean and kodhok ngrek. This gamelan is usually used as an accompaniment to ceremonies honoring Javanese culture such as Grebeg Mulud, welcoming guests, and circumcisions or weddings in the royal family.

4. Gamelan Sekaten

In the Yogyakarta and Surakarta palaces, the sekaten type gamelan will be used once a year. Namely to commemorate the birth of the Prophet Muhammad SAW on 6-12 Mulud (Javanese calendar) and the sekaten gamelan is played in the courtyard of the Grand Mosque.

5. Gadhon gamelan

Gamelan Gadhon consists of a composition of drums, zither, gender, slenthem, xylophone and gongs only. This type of gamelan is used for the needs of people who have climen (simple) intentions, namely circumcision, 5 after the child’s birthday, moving house, birthdays and so on.

6. Gamelan Cokekan

Is a type of gamelan that is used for singing. The musical instruments in this gamelan only consist of zithers, drums, and gongs made of wood or gongs.

7. Gamelan Senggani (Sengganen)

Senggani gamelan is made of iron and brass in the form of smaller blades and is more practical. This gamelan consists of bonang barung, bonang successor, demung, saron, slenthem, drums, kempul and kenong. This type of gamelan is usually used for musical practice in villages to accompany the tayub dance.

Mini Encyclopedia – Indonesian Musical Instruments


This is a review of the bonang musical instrument that Grames needs to know about as an effort to recognize and preserve Indonesian culture. Is Sinaumed’s interested in learning this instrument? If you want to find out more about books on traditional musical instruments, you can get them at so that Sinaumed’s has #MoreWithReading information.