|Indonesian Kendang (Gendang)|
|On the island of Lombok in Indonesia, the Kendang underwent its most dramatic evolution, growing to 1.5 meters in length with a diameter of around 50 centemeters. In the enlarged form, the drum is called Gendang Beleq. This variant of the kendang emerged during the era when Lombok was divided into several kingdoms. The drums are said to have been used to rouse troops to battle. Their deep sound resembles the tone of Japanese taiko but they are played in kendang style with a mallet on the right skin and hand slaps on the left. This drum is also played in duet like the standard kendang with the same volleying of beats between drummers for a single rhythm.
Along with the metal gamelan, Balinese have created large bamboo xylophones to play gamelan music in the west of Bali. There are several variants of the bamboo xylophone which occur. Rendik and tingklik are the small versions up to a meter in size. Bamboo xylophones of up to two meters are referred to as jegog.
Though not percussion per se, Kecak (pictured lower right) is a rhythmic chanting style that emerged from religious trance ceremony and was adapted to the telling of the Hindu epic Ramayana. A chorus of several dozen men chant seven or more rhythms in synchrony in a syncopated chatter that is said to mimic the sound of the monkey army that attacks Ravana who has kidnapped Rama's sweetheart Sita and taken her to the island of that is today called Sri Lanka. The kecak rhythms are often utilized on percussive instruments such as large wooden cowbells and bamboo poles during Hindu ceremonies and performances.
|Gamelan gong music of Bali and Java is familiar to many listeners. The kendang is the drum which accompanies the gong orchestra. Different versions of the kundang are found in each Indonesian island. This drum is barrel shaped with the right hand skin slightly larger than the left. Each skin can create two fundamental tones with the right being a deep bass that is sometimes hit with a mallet during climactic scenes in the drama they accompany. The left skin has a high pitched slap that is characteristic of this drum. The two fundamental tones of each skin can be changed by covering the opposing skin at the time of striking. Therefore the kendang has a variety of sounds that rivals the Indian tabla.
The kendang likely descended from the South Indian mirdangam when the South Indian Chola dynasty was influential in the Indonesian archipeligo between the 9th and 13th centuries, during which time Indian mythology which makes up the subject matter of many gamelan plays also was introduced.
|The kendang is usually played in duet with a unique method whereby the duo trade off elements of the same rhythm. The effect is a volleying of parts of a single rhythm in stereo across the stage like a tennis match. The drum is used to guide the pace of the gamelan orchestra as well as to accent the actions and gestures of the actors of the story being accompanied.
Pictured right the kendang drummers lead the gamelan orchestra during the entrance of a dancer portraying a character from the Indian epic Ramayana.
|Gamelan and the kendang drum can be found throughout Southeast Asia (gendang is the alternate pronunciation in Malaysia, ghi nang in Vietnam) with the musical stlye and shape of the instruments differing by small degrees.
Pictured left is a performance in Hanoi, Vietnam of a drum descended from the ghi nang. The two heads of the Vietnamese drum are nearer in size than the Indonesian kendang.