__Kroncong (pronounced “kronchong”; Indonesian: Keroncong, Dutch: Krontjong) is the name of a ukulele-like instrument and an Indonesian musical style that typically makes use of the kroncong (the sound chrong-chrong-chrong comes from this instrument, so the music is called keronchong), the band or combo or ensemble (called a keronchong orchestra) consists of a flute, a violin, a melody guitar, a cello in pizzicato style, string bass in pizzicato style, and a female or male singer.
The name “Kroncong” may be derived from the jingling sound of the kerincing rebana, as heard in the rhythmic background of the music created by the interlocking of instruments playing on or off beat. This background rhythm runs faster than the often slow vocals or melody, and is created, typically, by two ukuleles, a cello, a guitar and a bass. These instruments, especially the pair of ukeleles, interlock as do the instruments in a gamelan orchestra, and it is clear that the musical traditions of Indonesia have been applied to an orchestra of European instruments. Previously, they also used the Portuguese musical instrument called cavaquinho, a four steel stringed musical instrument that looks like a guitar; however, cavaquinho was then modified into a prounga, a 3 nylon stringed instrument with low pitch, and a macina, a 4 nylon stringed instrument with high pitch.
One ukulele, called the “cak” (pronounced “chak”), may be steel-stringed. The instrumentalist strums chords with up to 8 strums per beat in 4/4 rhythm. The off-beat strums are often accentuated. The other ukulele, called the “cuk” (pronounced “chook”), is larger and has 3 gut or nylon strings. The instrumentalist may pluck arpeggios and tremoloes using a plectrum, and the on-beat is emphasised. As a set, the cak and cuk form an interlocking pair that mostly gives Kroncong its characteristic kron and chong.
The cello may have 3 gut or nylon strings and the chords are plucked rapidly, often with a unique skipped-beat using the thumb and one finger. This instrument then adds both rhythm and tone. The guitar may play similarly to either cak or cuk, but plays are often extended scalar runs that provide an undulating background to a chord or bridge chord changes. The bass is often played in a minimalist style reminiscent of the large gongs in a gamelan.
On top of this rhythmic layer, the melody and elaborate ornamentation is carried by a voice, flute, or violin. The violin or flute are used to play introductory passages that are often elaborate. The fills and scalar runs are both faster and more elaborate than the guitar’s. The vocalist sings the melody which is slow with sustained notes in traditional Kroncong.
The repertoire largely uses the Western major key with some arrangements in the minor. One departure from this occurs when Kroncong orchestras play Javanese songs (Langgam Jawa). Javanese music ordinarily uses scales and intervals that do not occur in Western music. Kroncong Jawa maintains Western intervals but adopts a 5-tone scale that approximates one of the main Javanese septatonic scales. When playing this style, cak and cuk leave their characteristic interplay and both play arpeggios to approximate the sound and style of the Javanese instrument the siter, a kind of zither. The cello adopts a different rhythmic style as well.