Physical description

The saron is a metallophone with six or seven keys that rest on a wooden trough, which also serves as resonator. Three instruments belong to the saron family that employ different sizes and pitch registers: the largest size with the lowest register is called demung; the medium size with a medium octave range, saron barung; and the smallest size and highest register, saron panerus or peking. A full ensemble may have two demung, four saron, and two  peking. Another instrument that musically falls in the saron family is slenthem, but physically it is built similar to the gender (i.e. suspended by a cord over tube resonators).

Musical, Cultural, and Social Contexts

For the most part (with the exception of peking), saron instruments play the melodic skeleton (balungan) of a gendhing within the limitation of their melodic ranges. There are other playing styles through which the saron create interlocking patterns. Unlike the other saron, the peking’s melody anticipates and doubles or quadruples the melody of the melodic skeleton (balungan). In some cases, it paraphrases the balungan.

Historical background

In the early history of gamelan, a single saron may have been part of a small ensemble. As the gamelan developed into an expansive ensemble, different sizes of saron were added. This development brought about the emergence of new styles of musical practice and repertoire: i.e., the creation of loud pieces in which bonang and saron are featured and performance styles involving the interplay between soft- and loud-playing styles.


Java, Indonesia


111.212 (idiophone) Sets of percussion sticks: several percussion sticks of different pitch are combined to form a single instrument


Javanese gamelan


Sumarsam (2004)



“Saron,” Wesleyan University Virtual Instrument Museum 2.0, accessed July 18, 2024,