The standard instrumentation of the kangen orchestra includes sixteen instruments:

Nine woodwinds: three hichiriki, three ryûteki, and three shô.

Four string instruments: two koto and two biwa.

And three percussion instruments: one shôkô, one kakko, and one taiko.

It is possible to perform kangen music in a chamber setting, in which case, the instrumentation varies between: ten (WW:1,1,1, String: 2, 2, Percussion: 1,1,1), five (WW: 1,1,1, String: 1,1), and three (WW: 1,1,1) instruments.

The eight different instruments of the kangen orchestra are divided into three choirs: woodwinds, strings, and percussion. Each choir has a prescribed function which is never altered. The hichiriki and ryûteki from the woodwind choir present the melody. The three instruments of the percussion choir collaborate to create a single rhythmic pattern, which marks-off time units. Finally, the two plucked string instruments: the koto and the biwa, and the remaining woodwind instrument – the shô, create a bridge between the woodwind and percussion instruments by coloring key unpitched percussive attacks with pitched motives and harmonies related to the melody.