A-Z Indonesian Musical Instrument – Vocabulary and Culture

Who doesn’t love hearing music? Everyone loves music ever since they’re child. But, have you tried hearing Indonesian kind of music? In Indonesia, music is divided to two general categories. Modern music and traditional music. However, these days, many of genres using Indonesian traditional instruments to add some cultural meaning. Also find out about Indonesian High Context Culture

There are many kinds of Indonesian instruments. Each provinces has at least one traditional instruments, and if we counted it, there will be more than 100 instruments that used in Indonesia. Wish to know  Indonesian traditional instrument?

This article will tell you a few of Indonesian instruments that has been heritaged for centuries. Here are the list of Indonesian instruments:


Angklung is a well-known Indonesian instrument and has been introduced world wide as UNESCO has officially recognized Indonesian angklung as a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity. Angklung was invented in west java and named because of its sound “klung”.

Angklung is made by varying number of bamboo tubes which attached to a bamboo frame. The tubes are carved so that they have a distinctive resonant pitch when being vibrated. Each angklung only lays one note thus you need to combine many of angklung to get a beautiful sound from it. Have you heard one? Also find out about List of Loanwords in Indonesian


Gamelan is a Indonesian instrument that invented in Java. It is come from word gamel which refer to mallet used to strike instruments.  It is a multi-timbre ensemble consist of flutes, gongs, metallophones, bonang, kethuk, peking, saron, slenthem, and many more. In Indonesia gamelan often played with accompanied dance, wayang, or ritual ceremonies and it has been inherited within generations until now. There are two types of famous gamelan performance, Java gamelan and Bali gamelan. Which one would you see first? Also find out about Indonesian Greeting Customs


Suling is a sundanese flute from Indonesia. It is made from “tamiang” bamboo and rattan. Unlike flute, this suling can be played with horizontal position. Suling can have 4 holes or 6 holes depend on what note to produces. The notes will come with flowing order to finger position. Suling is usually played in Dangdut and Sinden music to make it more cheerful. Would you love to see one? Also find out about Fun Ways to Learn Bahasa Indonesia for Foreigners


Sasando is a traditional instruments from Rote Island, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The name is taken from rote dialect word “Sasandu” which means vibrating. It has same vibe with harp, but this one is made from bamboo, wooden pieces, dried lontar. It played with  both hands reaching into the stings of the bamboo tube. Wish to hear beautiful melody from sasando?  


Gendang is two headed drum on left and right side. Gendang has been introduced as music instrument since the ancient history of Indonesia. You can found the evidence at Borobudur and Prambanan temple. It is a percussion model instrument and also used in Dangdut genre of music. It is like drum but in  traditional way. There are several types of gendang: Gendang gede (The largest gendang with deepest tone), gendang Ciblon (medium size drum used for complex rhythms), gendang wayang that used to accompany wayang performance and gendang ketipung (the smallest gendang). Interested in this traditional drum? Also find out about Easiest Way to Learn Bahasa Indonesia for Foreigners


Kolintang is a traditional instrument from Minahasa, North Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is usually made from  egg wood, cempaka wood, wenuang wood, bandaran, or similar wood that is soft yet strong. It has same vibe as piano but it sounded like idiofon. Kolintang is used for ritual ceremonies. Basic techniques to play this instrument is play a stick on the bar kolintang. It has fun and cheerful note so would you try to play it someday?


Kecapi is stringed music instrument founded by Sundanese. The word kacapi is refer to santol tree. Kecapi is divided to four types: Kecapi Parahu which has a boat-like shape. Kecapi siter which has plan-ralles resonance box with a hole at the bottom. Kecapi Indung which leads the accompaniment, it has big size and use up to 20 strings. The last is Kacapi rincik which enriched the accompanist by filling in inter-note spaces with higher frequencies. This type of instrument mainly found at Indonesian cultural event. Hope you can watch Kecapi performance!


Kompang comes from Sumatra, Indonesia. It made from goat or wood skin. It is almost similar to tambourine however sometimes it can be place on the top of shoulder. It is a well known instrument on wedding ritual or circumcision ceremony. Want to see it soon? 

Indonesian Musical Instrument 

Here are the vocabularies of Indonesian musical instrument:


  • Agung
  • Angklung


  • Bedug


  • Cak (instrument)
  • Calung
  • Cekuntrung
  • Cuk (instrument)


  • Gangsa
  • Genggong
  • Gong


  • Hasapi


  • Kacapi
  • Karinding
  • Petrus Kaseke
  • Kecer
  • Kemanak
  • Kepyak
  • Kongahyan
  • Kroncong
  • Kulintang


  • Mirwas
  • Moko drums
  • Moon of Pejeng


  • Qanbūs


  • Rebana
  • Reyong


  • Saluang
  • Sapeh
  • Sasando
  • Slentho
  • Suling


  • Talempong


  • Ugal

Those are a few of Indonesian instrument, there are lots of Indonesian instruments tho. Thus, feel free to come to Indonesia and learn how to play Indonesian instruments. You will love it!