Gendang Melayu

The Gendang Melayu is a two sided membrane drum that is currently known in areas such as India and Maritime Southeast Asia. Gendang is referred to by many names. For instance, in Bugis, which is a southern Indonesian language, people will call the instrument a Gendrang. Another example includes Makssar, which is a south Wulawesi province of Indonesia. They would refer to the Gendang as the Gandrang or Ganrang.

This is an image of the Gendang Melayu.
This is an image of an engraving from the ancient Indonesian temples. There are groups of people using the Gendang Melayu.

The first time the musical instrument was seen was in a particular cravings that are in ancient temples of Indonesia. Since the Gendang Melayu originated from Indonesian areas, there are various kinds of Gendang Melayu that were developed throughout instrument’s history. For instance, some Gendang Melayus in certain regions of Indoensia, specifically the kendang, has one side large than the other. In other regional Indonesian areas like Balinese, Tausug, and Maranao, both of the sides of the Gendang Melayu are in equal size.

Most Gendang Melayu are built with various sources. Many types of woods are utilized in the making of the instrument such as the wood from coconuts and jackfruit. For the interior surface of the instrument, buffalo skin is used to create low-pitch sounds. On the other hand, goatskin is utilized to make high-pitch sounds with the Gendang Melayu.
This is an image of a Gendang Melayu composed of various types of woods.
This is an image of a Gendang Melayu.
The instrument is used to play many Indonesian music, specifically music from the Javanese, Sundanese, Balinese, Makassarese, and Buginese. It can be played solo or in a band.

How do I play the instrument?

There are different ways to play the instrument, depending on the type of Gendang Melayu a musician has. For example, among the Indonesian cultures like the Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese, playing the Gendang Melayu requires the musician to use their hands on both sides of the instrument while sitting on the floor. In other Indonesian reigions like the Balinese, Maranao, and Tausug, musicians can play with one or both sides with hands or sticks.

Are there any instrument silimar to this one?

One instrument that is similar to Gendang Melayu is the Bedug. The Bedug is another Indonesian musical instrument that is a double-headed drum like the Gendang Melayu. However, unlike having the musician to sit on the ground with the Gendang Melayu, the Bedug is played with a mallet while being suspended on a frame.

How long does it take to learn?

It takes approximately 4 – 6 months to learn the Gendang Melayu.

Is there special equipment needed for the instrument?

If the musician prefers to play with sticks, then sticks are required. However, if the musician plays with only their hands, there is no other equipment that is necessary to play the Gendang Melayu.

This is an image of a bedug, the musical instrument similar to the Gendang Melayu.

Rock with a Star!

Let’s enjoy the sound of the Gendang Melayu through this wonderful performance by Gendang Malay Sarawak musicians.

Gendang Malay Sarawak is a combination of different music elements such as dance art and vocal art. This was inherited by the Sarawak Malay community. The musical performance consists of the women that are behind the curtain and the men are in front of the curtain. During the performance they freely exchanged verses and they start dancing in repetitive patterns with their respective partners. Sometimes the dancer wears a mask (covering the face with batik cloth/sticker). Commonly used musical instruments are goatskin drums, violins, accordions and gongs.