Philippine Traditional Musical Instruments

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, of which Philippine musical instruments are the most numerous in terms of type.

The entire collection of Philippine Musical Instruments was acquired during the term of National Artist for Music Dr. Lucrecia R. Kasilag and boasts of a complete gamelan ensemble.

Cultural Center of the Philippines’ collection of Philippine Musical Instruments

Cultural Center of the Philippines’ collection of Philippine Musical Instruments

Rondalla Ensemble is one of the most popular ensembles in Christianized towns all over the country. It is made up of the banduria, the piccolo banduria, the laud, the octavina, the guitar, and the bajo de uñas. The ensemble can be heard in town fiestas and other celebrations, wedding ceremonies and even wakes.

Rondalla Ensemble

Rondalla Ensemble

Banduria is a small string instrument that is a cross between a guitar and a cittern. Its strings are plucked with a plectrum made of turtleshell or carabao horn with repeated up and down movements of the wrist. It plays the main melody. Its smaller version, the piccolo banduria, is turned an octave lower and plays ornamental passages and all forms of variations. In the absence of the piccolo banduria, the banduria substitutes in playing ornamental and virtuoso passages.

Laud is a pear-shaped instrument with f-holes turned an octave lower than the banduria. Its strings are plucked with a plectrum of turtleshell or carabao horn with repeated up and down movements of the wrist. It plays the counter melody parts in the ensemble.

Octavina is a string instrument resembling a small guitar with a round hole in the middle. It is turned an octave lower than the banduria and plays the lower notes in unison or in accompaniment with the bass. Its strings are plucked with a plectrum made of turtleshell or carabao horn with repeated up and down movements of the wrist.

Banduria, Laud and Octavina

Banduria, Laud and Octavina

Bajo de Uñas is the largest string instrument in the rondalla resembling a large guitar. The instrument is plucked with a plectrum made of turtleshell or carabao horn. It provides the fundamental group tone and reinforces the rhythm.

Bajo de Uñas

Bajo de Uñas

Guitar is a string instrument with a wooden soundbox with side walls curving upward and a flat back. Its strings are either plucked with a plectrum or strummed. One of the most popular instruments in the Philippines, the guitar provides the choral and rhythmic accompaniment in the rondalla ensemble.

Guitar

Guitar

Kulintang is a series of eight gongs of graduated sizes arranged in a row and placed in a frame. It is played with two light sticks by the player who plays the melody and improvises on a particular rhythmic mode.

Kulintang

Kulintang

Dabakan is a conical drum that accompanies the kulintang ensemble. It serves as drone and plays a steady, unchanging rhythmic pattern with two light, thin sticks. The rhythm of the dabakan starts the music.

Dabakan

Dabakan

Babandir is a small gong with thin rims suspended from a wooden frame. The instrument is played with a thin stick on the rim. It gives a metallic sound and serves as a drone in playing a steady, unchanging rhythmic pattern.

Babandir

Babandir

Gandingan is a set of four bossed gongs with narrow, slightly turned-in rims suspended from a wooden frame. The instrument is played with two sticks with strips of rubber wound around its playing end. It serves as a drone and plays a steady, unchanging rhythm on its gongs that are allowed to vibrate freely.

Gandingan

Gandingan

Agung is a large suspended bossed gong with thick rims played with a beater with strips of rubber wound around its playing end. It gives short, cut off sounds and serves as a drone in playing a steady, repeated rhythmic pattern.

 

Agung

Agung

Babandir, gandingan and agung

Agung, gandingan and babandir

Gabbang is a bamboo xylophone played by the Tausugs of Sulu. The instrument is made of bamboo keys of graduated sizes placed over a trapezoid-shaped soundbox. The instrument is struck with two wooden mallets with a strip of rubber fastened to it. The gabbang is played for entertainment purposes.

Gabbang

Gabbang

Kudyapi is a two-stringed lute by the Maranaos and Maguindanaos of Southern Philippines. The instrument has a boat-shaped body made of lightwood. Its strings are made of metal that may be plucked by the finger or with a plectrum. It is played during courtship, marriage festivities and for self-entertainment. It is also played to accompany dance.

Kudyapi

Kudyapi

Gangsa is a set of flat gongs of graduated sizes made of brass, bronze or iron. The gongs are found only among the Northern tribes of the Cordillera region. The gangsa is played in an ensemble either by striking the gong with a stick or by hitting with the palm of the hands. The instrument is heard during rituals, feasts and peace-pact gatherings.

Gangsa

Gangsa

Bungkaka is a bamboo buzzer played by the Kalinga and Isneg tribes of the Cordillera region of Northern Luzon. It consists of a long piece of bamboo split on both sides to the center of its length. The instrument is held by the right hand and is struck against the palm of the left hand. The instrument is used to drive away evil spirits on forest trails.

Bungkaka

Bungkaka

Flutes are cylindrical tubes stopped on one end, blown across a hole at the head, setting into vibration its air column inside. Philippine flutes made of bamboo have different blowing end. The tongali, the nose flute of the Kalinga of Northern Luzon, has a small hole bored through its center that is placed against the nostril of the player. The paldong or Kalinga lip-valley flute has a valley shaped mouthpiece. The tulala of the Ilongots of Northern Luzon has a narrow air passage created by a piece of bamboo attached to the tube or protruding ledge.

Panpipes are sets of blown pipes found among the Northern tribes of the Cordillera region. The Bontoc panpipe, known as the diw-diw-as, consists of a set of pipes of graduated sizes tied together. The panpipe of the Kalinga tribe, known as the saggeyo, is composed of separated pipes of different sizes played by several players in an ensemble. Both pipes are heard during entertainment gatherings.

Flutes and Panpipes

Flutes and Panpipes

Tongatong are stamping tubes of different sizes played by the Kalingas of the Cordillera region. Following a particular rhythmic pattern, the tube is played by hitting its bottom against a hard surface. The instrument is played by two or more persons in an ensemble during weddings and other rituals and festivities.

Tongatong

Tongatong

For more Asian traditional musical instruments, please read Chinese Traditional Musical Instruments, Indian Traditional Musical Instruments, Indonesian Traditional Musical Instruments, Japanese and Thai Traditional Musical Instruments, and Korean Traditional Musical Instruments.

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).

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