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Traditional/Classical Music: Malay: Instruments

The bonang is made up of a set of small knobbed gongs which are placed horizontally on a rack in two rows. They are a part of a family of rack gong sets, all of which are similar but different in the number and sizes of gongs used as well as in the number of rows. The names by which these sets are known depend on their construction and function in a given music ensemble. Besides the bonang, the horizontal rack gong sets are called kenong, canang,  caklempong, engkeromong and kulintangan.

The gambus is the most common lute found in a variety of styles in Malay folk music as well as syncretic music such as ghazal. It is also used to accompany song and dance in Sabah, Malaysia. Originating from the Middle East, the Malaysian version uses 9 to 12 wire strings which are plucked. There are two types of gambus in use, the Gambus Hadramaut and Gambus Hijaz.

The rebab is the most important bowed lute in Malays folk music. It is the main melodic instrument in the mak yong (a popular local tune) and is used to accompany storytelling in Kelantan, Malaysia. It has 2 or 3 strings, running over a movable bridge.The rebab is held upright on a short spike and played using a wooden bow with nylon strings. The 2 stringed rebab is found only in the context of the shadow puppet theatre.

The seruling is made from bamboo. It comes in a few types of designs and shapes and has different numbers of holes. This instrument is said to be an indigeneous instrument of this region. It exists everywhere in Southeast Asia. In caklempong that flourishes in Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, this instrument comes in 3 shapes with different names like 'salung', 'bangsi', 'puput' and 'seruling'. It is often blown across the edge and held straight during playing, for entertainment, either in ensemble or played alone. The 'persol' type of seruling, is blown and held horizontally. This instrument is a nose flute.

The Malay serunai is a reed wind instrument, with a quadruple reed made from rice stalk. The body has 7 front finger holes and 1 at the back. Circular breathing technique is used so that once a melody is started it does not stop until the tune ends.

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