There are several drums or kendhang of different sizes in a Javanese gamelan ensemble: kendhang ageng, kendhang wayangan, kendhang ciblon, and kendhang ketipung (not all of the drums are necessarily played in one piece). The laced drums have skin heads on both sides are are played with the hand. Usually, one musician will play the drums, one or two at a time. The drummer supplies many of the signals to the rest of the group. Some drum patterns may mean finish the piece, another may mean change to a new piece, while yet another drum pattern may mean switch styles of playing. In a gamelan ensemble, the drums are not the only signal, other instruments like the bonang barung or rebab may lead the ensemble melodically.
Because the drums are played with the hands, they have a wide variety of sounds from a high pitched "tak" to a low "dlong." I have never played the drums, so I do not know many of the details....
More Javanese gamelan instruments.Author: Bern Jordan.