Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Kacapi is a zither-like Sundanese musical instrument played as the main accompanying instrument in the Tembang Sunda or Kacapi Suling genre, or an additional instrument in Gamelan Degung performance.


According to its form or physical appearance, there are two kinds of kacapis:

  1. Kacapi Parahu (=Boat Kacapi) or Kacapi Gelung ; and
  2. Kacapi Siter

Kacapi Parahu is a resonance box with uncovered underside to allow the sound out. The sides of this kind of kacapi is taper inward from top to bottom, which gives the instrument a boat-like shape. In ancient time, it was made directly from solid wood by perforating it.

Kacapi siter is a plan-parallel resonance box. Similar to kacapi parahu, its hole is located at the bottom. The upper and bottom sides of it form an almost-trapesium shape.

For both kinds of kacapi, each string is affixed to a small screw or peg on the top right hand side of the box. They can be tuned in different system: pelog, sorog/madenda, or salendro.

Nowadays, the resonance box of kacapi is made by glueing six wood-plates side by side.


According to its functions in a music accompaniment, kacapi is played as:

  1. Kacapi Indung (=mother kacapi); and
  2. Kacapi Anak (=child kacapi) or Kacapi Rincik

Kacapi indung leads the accompaniment by giving intros, bridges, and interludes, as well as determining the tempo. For this purpose, a large kacapi with eighteen strings is used.

Kacapi rincik riches the accompaniment by filling in inter note spaces with higher frequencies, especially in fixed metered songs like in Kacapi Suling or Sekar Panambih. For this purpose, a smaller kacapi with fifteen strings is used.