The bonang has no equivalent in Western music. Some people call the bonang "gong chimes." The bonang are in fact related to gongs. Each kettle on the rack is basically a small tuned gong oriented so that the button is on top. These kettle gongs are suspended on cords and do not have any resonators.
Bonang are played with both hands using cord wrapped beaters. Because a player uses both hands to play the instrument, he or she must also dampen notes with the beaters themselves.
The Javanese gamelan has two pairs of bonang instruments: the bonang barung and the bonang panerus. There are two of each bonang to play in the two gamelan scales.
The bonang barung is the lower of the two instruments. Melodically, it is one of the more important instruments in a Javanese gamelan ensemble. In many loud pieces, it is the melodic leader playing an elaborate version of the basic melody.
The bonang panerus plays an octave higher than the bonang barung. It usually plays a fast melodic strain based on that played by the bonang barung.
In some pieces, both bonang play a fast interlocking pattern called imbal. You can hear an example of this in Playon Gambuh.
More Javanese gamelan instruments.Author: Bern Jordan.