Category Archives: Metallophones



A metallophone usually an idiophone that consists of tuned metal bars which are struck to make sound, usually with a mallet. Metallophones can also include non-tuned instruments such as struck percussion idiophones as gongs and cymbals. Metallophones have been used in music in Asia for thousands of years.

Several different types of are used in both Balinese and Javanese Gamelan. They include the gendér, gangsa and saron. These instruments have a single row of bars that are tuned to the distinctive pelog or slendro scales, or a subset of them.

The Western glockenspiel and vibraphone are also metallophones as they have two rows of bars, in an imitation of the piano keyboard, and are tuned to the chromatic scale. In the Hornbostel-Sachs classification scheme they are categorized as a sub-category of “percussion plaques”.

111.22 Percussion plaques.


Name: Chimta.
Type: Idiophones > Percussion > Metallophones > Shakers.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.11
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: Chimta [in Punjabi: Gurmukhī ਚਿਮਟਾ, in Shahmukhī: چمٹا] literally means tongs. Over time it has evolved into a traditional instrument of South Asia by the permanent addition of small brass jingles. The chimta is often used in popular Punjabi folk songs, Bhangra music, often in combination with the Dhol and Bhangra dancers.

Playing Techniques: The player of the chimta is able to produce a chiming sound if he holds the joint of the instrument in one hand and strikes the two sides of the chimta together. The jingles are made of metal and thus it produces a metallic sound and helps to keep up the beat of the song.

Construction: The chimta consists of a long, flat piece of steel or iron that is pointed at both ends, and folded over in the middle. A metal ring is attached near the fold, and there are jingles or rings attached along the sides at regular intervals. Sometimes there are seven pairs of jingles.


Kyi Zi

Name: Kyi Zi.
Type: Idiophones > Metallophones > Gongs.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.222
Country: Burma [Myanmar].
Region: South East Asia.
Specimen: 1 in collection.
Acquisition Source: Randy Raine-Reusch @

Description: A [in Burmese; ကြေး စည်] twirling plate gong of Burma used in Buddhist temples to herald a donation to the temple. These gongs are traditionally suspended from the outside corner of the temple and struck at the bottom corner when a donation is made to the temple.

As they spin they create beautiful overtones displayed when combining with the beating of the gong during the twirl. Changes as the sound and spin decay. They come in a variety of sizes from 3 inches across to 20 feet across. Some websites name these instruments as gansadan, but this is not correct.

Citations: Bibliography: Randy-Raine-Reusch @ [Kyi Zi article].


Name: Majutaal.
Type: Idiophones > Metallophones > Cymbals.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 111.141
Country: Assam, India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: Majutaal [Assamese: মাজুতাল] is medium size clash cymbal, Khutitaal or Harutaal [in Assamese: খুটিতাল বা সৰু তাল] is small size clash cymbal. It is also known name as Manjira. It is generally used in traditional, folk and classical music in India. It is also used in dance in Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi Manipuri Mohiniattam Andhra Natyam Kathakali.

This Instrument has some other names e.g. thaaleaj [Kashmir], taalam, tala, jalra etc. Ramtaal or Khoritaal [in Assamese: ৰামতাল বা খৰিতাল] are two wooden handled musical instruments, containing multiple pairs of small cymbals. It is generally known India as Khartal.


Name: Chap.
Type: Idiophones > Metallophones > Cymbals.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.141
Country: Thailand & Cambodia.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: A chap or chhap [Thai: ฉาบ, Khmer: ឆាប] are a pair of symbols made from bronze. The chapp consists of two thin, round disks or plates with a bulge in the center. The plates are held against the hands like cymbals, using handles made of string, passing through a hole in the center of each plate.

The name comes from the sound the instrument makes when struck directly together, “chapp, chapp.” The “timbre or tone” change when struck at an angle.

Varieties: There are two kinds of chap: chap lek and chap yai. A chap lek’s diameter is 12 to 14 cm. A chap yai’s diameter is 24 to 26 cm. The Cambodian names for the two kinds of chapp are chapp thom [large chapp] and chapp toch [small chapp].



Name: Ching.
Type: Idiophones > Metallophones > Cymbals.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.142
Country: Cambodia & Thailand.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: Ching [also spelled Chheng in Khmer: ឈិង or Chhing, Thai: ฉิ่ง] are finger cymbals played in Cambodian and Thai theater and dance ensembles.

History: Evidence of the ching has been found in Angkor, the great temple-city of Khmer civilization, where classical art flourished between the ninth to the fifth centuries. Scenes carved in the walls of the temple depict celestial dancers with their musical instruments, including small cymbals in the form of the ching.

Playing Techniques: They are struck together in a cyclical pattern to keep time and regulate the melody, and they function as the “timekeeper” of the ensemble. The rhythm typically consists of alternating the accented closed stroke with an unaccented open “ching” stroke. The name “ching” is probably onomatopoeic for this open sound.

Construction: The ching is Joined by a cord that runs through the center of each cymbal, ching are bowl-shaped, about 5 cm in diameter, and made of bronze alloy of iron, copper, and gold.

Citations: Bibliography: Sam, Sam-Ang 1994 ; Ebihara ; Sam, Sam-Ang. Miller, Terry E.; Williams, Sean [eds.]. “The Khmer People of Cambodia”. The Garland Handbook of Southeast Asian Music ; Tran, Quang Hai. “Pin Peat” – Stanley Sadie, New Grove Dictionary of Music ; Websites ;


Name: Taal Manjira.
Type: Idiophones > Metallophones > Cymbals.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 111.142
Vadya: Ghanya Vadya.
Country: Rajasthan, India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The taal [in Assamese: তাল; in Odia: ଗିନି Gini] manjira also spelled manjīrā or manjeera, jalra, or gini is a pair of clash cymbals. Which make high-pitched percussion sounds. In its simplest form, it consists of a pair of small hand cymbals. The word taal comes from the Sanskrit word Tālà, literally means a clap. It is a part of Indian music and culture, used in various traditional customs e.g. Bihu music, Harinaam etc. It is a type of Ghana vadya.

Types: The Taal Manjira, the clash cymbal, taal is made of bell metals i.e. bronze, brass, copper, zinc etc. Each cymbal is connected with a cord which passes through hole in its center. The pitch of different types of taal vary according to their size, weight and the materials used.

A player can also adjust the timbre by varying the point of contact while playing. The name manjira or khartal can also refer to a similar instrument made of a wooden frame with rows of cymbals inside.

In Hindu religious contexts it is known as karatalas [Sanskrit: करताळं, IAST: Karatāḷaṁ] pronounced “karataala”, literally beat-tala hand -kara. Typically used to accompany devotional music such as bhajan and kirtan. They are commonly used by Hare Krishna devotees when performing harinam, but are ubiquitous to all Hindu devotional music.

Construction: The clash cymbal, taal is made of bell metals i.e. bronze, brass, copper, zinc etc. Each cymbal is connected with a cord which passes through hole in its center. The pitch of different types of taal vary according to their size, weight and the materials used.

A player can also adjust the timbre by varying the point of contact while playing. Manjiras are usually made of bronze, brass, copper, or zinc. The name manjira or khartal can also refer to a similar instrument made of a wooden frame with rows of cymbals inside.



Name: Bortaal.
Type: Idiophones > Percussion > Metallophones > Cymbals > Taal.
Hornbostel Sachs No#: 111.141
Country: Assam, India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: Bortaal [in Assamese: বৰতাল] is the big size clash cymbal, Its weight approx. 1½−2 kg. The player who plays Bortaal is called in Assam as Gayan. Bortaal is a symbol of Assamese traditional culture. Sometimes, the players perform dance-music with both e.g. in Gayan-Bayan, Bortaal Nritya etc. Sometimes the player perform with only music e.g. in Harinaam, Dihanaam etc. The rhythmic high-pitched sound of the Bortaal makes the surroundings pure and sacred.



Name: Agung.
Type: Idiophones > Metallophones > Gongs.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.241.2
Country: Philippines.
Region: South East Asia.

Description: The agung is a set of two wide-rimmed, vertically suspended gongs used by the Maguindanao, Maranao, Sama-Bajau and the Tausug people of the Philippines as a supportive instrument in kulintang ensembles. The agung is also ubiquitous among other groups found in Palawan, Panay, Mindoro, Mindanao, Sabah, Sulawesi, Sarawak and Kalimantan as an integral part of the agung orchestra.

Origins: Scholars seem to agree that the origins of the agung are in Indonesia, noting that the word agung / agong is derived from the Malay agong and Indonesian/Javanese ageng. Further evidence of this comes from a British explorer, Thomas Forrest, who in the 1770s wrote Filipinos were “fond of musical gongs which came from Cheribon on Java and have round knobs on them.”

Playing Techniques: The agung is usually performed while standing beside the instrument, holding the upper edge of its flange between the thumb and other fingers with the left hand while striking the knob with the right hand. The mallets, called balu, are made from short sticks about half a foot in length and padded with soft but tough material such as rubber at one end. Using these balus, players handle the agung similar to the way a brass tom-tom is played.

A series of solid, fast decaying sounds are produced using dampening techniques. The desired effect is produced after striking the knob, by leaving one’s hand or knee or the mallets themselves on it. When one player is using two gongs, the assistant holding the lower-pitched gong positions it at an angle and dampens its surface using their hands.

Recently, new ways of handling the agung have emerged, including grasping a portion of the boss rather than the flange to dampen or using regular strokes upon the busel while striking the surrounding gong surface with the opposite, wooden end of the beater. The latter technique, called katinengka, is used by downriver musicians to produce metallic sounds during kulintang performances.

Different combinations of players, gongs and mallets can be used for playing the agung: two players with each assigned their own gong or just one. When playing alone, the agung player could either play both gongs with the player holding the higher-pitched gongs face-to-face, with the lower one held at an angle by an assistant for stability, or just one gong.

The latter style, common among downriver Maguindanaos in Simuay, who consider this style an old one, uses only the higher-pitch gong for it, unlike the lower-pitched gong, is considered the lead gong, therefore having primary importance. An example of this is when single gong agungs are used during a tagunggo piece.

The number of mallets used by the player could also vary as well. For most occasions, only one mallet is used but for other techniques, the player could use two mallets, one in each hand. An even more interesting technique uses only one balu but requires the player to play the agung in reverse order of pitches. Called patuy, this technique and the one with two mallets are normally reserved only for competition and exhibition instances.

Construction: As a supporting instrument, the agung produces a bass sound in the kulintang orchestra and weighs between 13 and 16 pounds. It is possible to find agungs weigh as low as 5 pounds or as high as 20 or 30 pounds each, depending on the metal [bronze, brass or iron] used to produce them.

Though their diameters are smaller than the gandingan’s, at roughly 22 inches [560 mm] to 24 inches [610 mm] in length, they have a much deeper turned-in takilidan [rim] than the latter, with a width of 12 to 13 inches [330 mm] including the knob.

Citations: Bibliography: Mercurio, Philip Dominguez 2006 “Traditional Music of the Southern Philippines”. PnoyAndTheCity: A center for Kulintang – A home for Pasikings. Archived from the original on 28 February 2006 ; Hila, Antonio C 2006 “Indigenous Music – Tuklas Sining: Essays on the Philippine Arts”. Filipino Tatak Pilipino – 8 December 2006 ; Butocan, Aga M. 2006 “Gandingan / Babendil”. Kulintang and the Maguindanaos ; Cadar, Usopay H., and Robert Garfias. “Some Principles of Formal Variation in the Kolintang Music of the Maranao.” Asian Music Vol. 27, No. 2. [Spring – Summer, 1996], pp. 105–122;


Name: Chengila.
Type: Idiophones > Metallophones > Gongs.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.241
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The chengila [in Malayalam: ചെംഗില Ceṅgilā or in Telugu: చెంగిలా Ceṅgilā in Tamil: சென்கிள Ceṉkiḷa] cennala is an Indian gong which helps the traditional singer or dancer keep time. The chengila is a percussion instrument that maintains a steady beat and provides musical background.

Playing Techniques: The thick bell metal disc, which hangs by a strap looped around one wrist, is struck by a short wand held in the other hand. A ringing sound is produced when the chengila is struck when hanging freely; a flat tone is produced when it is struck while held against the forearm

Citations: Bibliography: “Chengila”. Online Highways LLC ; Manu, Meera. “Rustic Rhapsody”. The New Indian Express ; “Kathalki Dance”. Keralahistory ;