Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) has an extensive collection of Asian traditional musical instruments. It includes musical instruments from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Philippines and Thailand. This entry is about Indian traditional musical instruments. The small collection of Indian traditional instruments in the room is the most eye-catching, not only due to the size of some of them but also because of the intricate designs that show the artistry of the makers of these instruments. The smaller gourd of saraswati veena is the most beautiful part of any musical instrument I have seen.
Tavil is a popular South Indian drum played while seated if indoors or standing if outdoors. If indoors, tavil is played by hitting the right drumskin with the player’s right palm while its left drumskin is struck with a stick. If outdoors, it is positioned in front of the player while hanging with a strap on the player’s neck. The tavil is played with a drum ensemble during festive occasions.
Pakhawaj is one of the most ancient drums found in North India. It is barrel-shaped and made of wood. Animal skin held together by leather straps is placed on both ends of the drum. Beneath the straps are wooden blocks used to tune the pakhawaj. The instrument accompanies vocal and instrumental music. The pakhawaj is popular in the concert platform and provides rhythmic accompaniment to dance forms.
Tabla is a pair of small drums of slightly different shapes, one made of wood and the other made of metal. The drum heads are held together by leather tuning straps, the tension of which can be altered by shifting the position of the small cylindrical wooden blocks. The tabla is the most important percussion instrument in India today. It is used as accompaniment to vocal and instrumental North Indian music and dance forms.
Flute is an ancient and widespread woodwind instrument. Old texts refer to it as venu or nadi. The horizontal flute is a companion to every village herdsman. It is the divine instrument of the cowherd, Lord Krishna, calling all maids unto him. This type of instrument usually plays the slower passages of Indian music. Flute is a popular instrument in the concert stage.
Sarangi is one of the most important non-fretted bowed instruments of North India. Its body is scooped out of one piece of wood. The lower part of the instrument is covered with parchment whereas the upper part has a wide wooden plate that ends in a box-like structure for the pegs. The sarangi is held like an inverted violin. It has become the main accompanying instrument of North Indian classical music.
Saraswati veena is a plucked instrument said to have evolved from the Egyptian lute called vena about 4000 years ago. Its fretted fingerboard rests on two hollow gourd made of wood from a jack tree. In ancient times, it was considered indispensable in a decent home and was played to welcome guests. The saraswati veena is used for both classical and popular music.
Sitar is the most popular plucked string instrument in North India. Of Persian origin, it has existed in its present form for roughly 700 years, and is made of season gourd, ivory inlay and teakwood. Its movable frets may be adjusted according to the arrangement of the notes used. Classical and popular music are played on the sitar.
Sarod is a fretless instrument that produces continuous slides between notes. Sarod, along with the sitar, is one of the most popular instruments in Indian classical music. The sarod is known for a deep, resonating sound whereas sita is known for its sweet sound. Its strings re either made of steel or phosphor bronze, and are plucked with a triangular plectrum made of polished coconut shell, ebony, cocobolo wood, horn, and the like.
Where: Asian Traditional Musical Instruments, 4th Floor, CCP Main Building, Pedro Bukaneg Street, CCP Complex, Manila
When: Asian Traditional Musical is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 6pm.
How: From Vito Cruz Station of LRT Line 1, walk to Pablo Ocampo Street. Turn right on Pablo Ocampo Street and walk straight. In 2-5 minutes, you will arrive at the jeepney station of orange jeepneys that will take you to the CCP Complex.
How much: Asian Traditional Musical Instruments entrance fee: Students, P20 (US $ 0.44) and non-students, P30 (US $0.66), which is inclusive in the fee for Museo ng Kalinangan Pilipino (Museum of Philippine Culture).