Kendhang (Javanese: Kendhang, Malay: Gendang, Tausug/Bajau Maranao: Gandang) is a two-headed drum used by peoples from Maritime Southeast Asia. Kendang is one of the primary instruments used in the Gamelan ensembles of Java, Bali and Terengganu, the Malay Kendang ensemble as well as various Kulintang ensembles in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines. It is constructed in a variety of ways by different ethnic groups.
The typical double-sided membrane drums are known throughout Maritime Southeast Asia and India. One of the oldest image of kendang can be found in ancient temples in Indonesia, especially the ninth century Borobudur and Prambanan temple.
Among the Javanese, Sundanese, or Malay peoples, the kendang has one side larger than the other, with the larger, lower-pitched side usually placed to the right, and are usually placed on stands horizontally and hit with the hands on either side while seated on the floor. Amongst groups like the Balinese, Tausug, and Maranao, both sides are of equal size, and are played on either one or both sides using a combination of hands and/or sticks.
Within Gamelan, the kendhang is smaller than the bedug, which is placed inside a frame, hit with a beater, but used less frequently. The kendang usually has the function of keeping the tempo (Laya) while changing the density (Irama), and signaling some of the transitions (paralihan) to sections and the end of the piece (suwuk).
In dance or wayang, the kendhang player will follow the movements of the dancer, and communicate them to the other players in the ensemble. In West Java, kendang are used to keep the tempo of Gamelan Degung. Kendang are also used as main instrument for Jaipongan dances. In another composition called Rampak Kendang, a group of drummers play in harmony.
Good kendang instruments are said to be made from the wood of jackfruit, coconuts or cempedak. Buffalo hide is often used for the bam (inferior surface which emits low-pitch beats) while soft goatskin is used for the chang (superior surface which emits high-pitch beats).
The skin is stretched on y-shaped leather or rattan strings, which can be tightened to change the pitch of the heads. The thinner the leather the sharper the sound.
In Gamelan Surakarta, four sizes of kendhang are used: