gendang indung

Also:       kendang ageung      

Contextual Associations

The gendang indung is a double-headed membranophone of the Sundanese people of Java, Indonesia. It is the largest hand drum typically found in Sundanese gamelan sets. ‘Indung’ means ‘mother’ and ‘gendang’ means ‘drum’ in the Sundanese language. Typically played by male musicians only, it can be heard in gamelan ensembles accompanying Sundanese rod-puppet theatre and traditional and modern dance, and as part of ensembles playing music for listening pleasure for radio broadcasts and on commercial recordings.


The conical-shaped body/shell of this drum is made by shaping and hollowing out a block of wood. Each of the two differently-sized heads are made from tanned buffalo hide stretched tightly over rattan hoop frames the diameters of which are slightly greater than those of the openings in the shell they will cover. The heads are held in place by a long rawhide lace that is threaded around the hoop frame of one head before running the length of the drum to be threaded around the hoop frame of the other head; this is repeated several times resulting in a zigzag lacing pattern. Just before and after each of the ten passes around the hoop of the smaller head the lace is threaded through a pair of small rawhide rings. The rings can be slid up and down the length of the shell, resulting in an overlapping Y-pattern indirect lacing system with which the performer regulates the general tension of the drum's heads. A rope handle is attached to the shell, and the drum rests at about a 30-degree angle on a wooden stand.

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

The performer sits on the floor facing the drum and produces sounds on both heads using both hands (one for each head). The larger head faces downward and in addition to striking this head with his hand the drummer also manipulates the head tension with his heel to produce pitch inflections. The drummer will also typically use one or a few further smaller drums in combination with the gendand indung, affording him quite a variety of timbres and pitches to draw upon while leading the ensemble.


Although double-headed hand drums have been in use in Java since ancient times as illustrated on the bas reliefs of the 9th century Borobudur temple, they differ morphologically from modern day Sundanese drums. The oldest extant Sundanese ceremonial gamelans such as the gamelan renteng include a gendang indung, and from this evidence alone it seems likely that the instrument has existed at least as far back as the Mataram Kingdom (late-16th to mid-18th centuries). The oldest extant non-ceremonial gamelans include the gendang indung as well. Beyond these general observations, it is not possible to pinpoint precise date for the origin of this instrument.

Bibliographic Citations

Kartomi, Margaret, et al. 1984. “Kendang” NGDMI v.2: 374.

Kunst, Jaap. 1973. Music in Java. 3rd ed. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

Spiller, Henry. 2004. Gamelan: The Traditional Sounds of Indonesia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.


Instrument Information


Continent: Asia

Region: Southeast Asia

Nation: Indonesia

Formation: Sundanese

Classification (Sachs-Von Hornbostel revised by MIMO)

211.252.12 membranophone--individual double-skin conical drum, both heads played

Design and Playing Features

Category: membranophone

Number of drums comprising instrument: single drum

Shell design: tubular - conical

Number and function of membranes: two, both for sounding

Membrane design: framed with rigid flesh hoop

Membrane attachment: framed membrane hoop connected by lacing to framed membrane hoop

Membrane tension control: sliding rings joining adjacent laces

Sounding for membranophone: striking directly with both hands

Sound modifiers for membranophone: none


26.3 in. length 11.5 in. diameter of larger rim 9 in. diameter of smaller rim

Primary Materials

membrane - mammal skin
lacing - rawhide

Entry Author

Roger Vetter