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Title: demo: Sundanese panerus. Format: DAT.

Contextual Associations

The panerus is a metallophone idiophone of the Sundanese people of Java, Indonesia. It is one of several types of instruments that comprise the Sundanese gamelan degung. This ensemble itself was strongly associated with the aristocratic stratum of traditional Sundanese society. However, since the 1950s this association has softened and musicians have started to create new repertoires for it that are considerably more popular in nature. Today the sound of the gamelan degung indexes West Java in general rather than the Sundanese aristocracy in particular


This metallophone (metal-keyed melodic instrument) has fourteen roughly rectangular bronze keys/bars resting over a box resonator. Holes for anchoring the keys on its casing are drilled at one-quarter of a key’s total length from each end, which are nodal (dead) points in the mode of vibration for rectangular keys. The keys rest on the top edge of the resonator’s sideboards, separated from it by a twisted length of hemp rope. The keys and their cushions are anchored in place with bronze pins that run through the holes in the keys and the cushions beneath them into the wooden sideboard. One hammer-shaped wooden beater is used to strike the keys.

Player - Instrument Interface and Sound Production

The panerus is played by a single performer seated on the ground; from the player’s perspective, the longer, thinner, lower-pitched keys are to the left, the shorter, thicker, higher-pitched keys to the right. Striking the keys near their middle with the beater, the performer sounds a fast moving obligato-like melody over the core melody (lagu) of a piece. Each of the fourteen keysis tuned to a specific pitch and the keys are sequenced to produce a pentatonic scale over a range of nearly three octaves (see Gamelan Prunggu (Bronze) from West Java for tuning and register information for this instrument). Playing the panerus necessitates no specialized technique, so all competent gamelan musicians are able to perform it. The keys produce a clear, sustained tone that necessitates a simple damping technique (with the hand not holding the beater). The instrument has a potentially wide dynamic range but is often played at a consistent moderate volume.


Relatively little is known of the origin of the panerus in West Java, although it has long been a part of the gamelan degung. It is not even known if the basic idea of a metallophone originated amongst the Sundanese people or if it was an import form elsewhere on Java. 

Bibliographic Citations

 “Cempres.” 1980. NGDMI v.1: 322.

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)

111.222 idiophone--set of percussion plaques of different pitch are combined to form a single instrument, struck with a non-sonorous object (hand, stick, striker)

Design and Playing Features

Category: idiophone

Energy input motion by performer: hammering

Basic form of sonorous object/s for idiophone: block - oblong bar

Sound objects per instrument: multiple sounded discretely

Resonator design: separate resonating space shared by multiple sonorous objects - built into instrument

Number of players: one

Sounding principle: striking - direct

Sound exciting agent: beater/s - mallet-shaped hammer/s

Energy input motion by performer: hammering

Pitch of sound produced: definite pitch

Sound modification: none


42 in. length (case) 10.5 in. length (longest key) 2.5 in. width (longest key) 0.2 in. thickness (longest key) 6.8 in. length (shortest key) 1.6 in. width (shortest key) 0.7 in. thickness (shortest key)

Primary Materials

rope - hemp

Entry Author

Roger Vetter