Music instruments, mechanisms that
produce sounds, have been used for various purposes. In earlier times they
were also used as an adjunct to dance or to labor. In later civilizations,
instrumental music was used for entertainment. Present day musicological
studies, following the Hornbostel-Sachs classification, divide instruments
into the following categories: idiophones, aerophones, chordophones, and
Instruments that produce sound from the
substance of the instrument itself (wood or metal) are classified as
idiophones. They are further subdivided into those that are struck, scraped,
plucked, shaken, or rubbed. In the Philippines there are metal and wooden
(principally bamboo) idiophones.
are of two categories: flat gongs and bossed gongs. Flat gongs made of
bronze, brass, or iron, are found principally in the north among the Isneg,
Tingguian, Kalinga, Bontok, Ibaloi, Kankanai, Gaddang, Ifugao, and Ilonggot.
They are most commonly referred to as gangsa.
The gongs vary in sized, the average are struck with wooden sticks,
padded wooden sticks, or slapped with the palm of the hand. Gong playing
among the Cordillera highlanders is an integral part of peace pact
gatherings, marriages, prestige ceremonies, feasts, or rituals.
Philippines, gongs have a central profusion or knot, hence the term bossed
gongs. They are three of types: (1) sets of graduated gongs laid in a row
called the kulintang; (2) larger, deep-rimmed
gongs with sides that are turned in called agung,
and (3) gongs with narrower rims and less prominent bosses called
gandingan. These gongs may be played alone but are often
combined with other instruments to form various types of ensembles.
Bamboo idiophones abound in the Philippines-xylophones, drums, quill-shaped
tubes, stamping tubes, scrapers, buzzers, and clappers.
The bamboo xylophone,
gabbang, is found in southern Philippines among
the Yakan, Sama, Tausug, and Palawan. It consists of bamboo keys of
graduated lengths mounted on a trapezoidal box. The number of keys varies
among the different ethnic groups, ranging from 3 to 22. In northern Luzon, among
the Kalinga, individual xylophone-like blades called patatag
are struck with bamboo sticks.
The bamboo slit drum,
such as the Bukidnon bantula is fashioned out of a
bamboo tube closed at both ends with anode with a slit cut out of the tube.
Found among different groups of people, its main use is to announce
quill-shaped bamboo tubes with notches etched on the tube, are found only in
southern Philippines such as the Maranao tagutok
and the Maguindanao kagul. The player scrapes the
notches with a bamboo stick.
Among the Cordillera
highlanders, bamboo buzzers are widespread. They are made from a length of
bamboo closed with a node at the bottom, with its top half shaped so that
two tongues face each other. The top half is struck against the palm of the
hand. They are known by different names such as balingbing,
bilbil, bungkaka by the
The Ifugao have a
bamboo clapper, hanger, fashioned from a tubular
section of bamboo, split from one end to approximately half of the tube.
Each half of the split portion is shaped to make it narrower in the middle,
thus making it more flexible when the halves are made to flap against each
include sticks, suspended logs, and log drums. The Hanunuo
kalutang consists of pair of sticks cut from forest trees.
These are struck against each other and played while hiking through forest
and mountain trails.
pattung is a percussion yoke bar made from a tapered
piece of wood and struck with a stick. It is used in a ceremonies for the
sick, at rites which entail the offering of sacrificial pigs, or at death
Suspended logs are
widespread in southern Philippines where they are known by different ethnic names.
The Maguindanao luntang consists of several logs
of varying lengths hung in order from longest to shortest. The pointed
playing ends of each log is struck by one performer creating a melody
against which another performer beats drone rhythm on one of the logs.
edel is a sounding board with resonator played during
wedding celebrations together with a drum or gong to accompany dancers. The
Bagobo and Bilaan have similar drums.
Jews harps are bound
all over the Philippines. They are principally made from bamboo although in
Philippines some are made of metal. It is a type of mouth resonated
instrument consisting of a flexible tongue fixed at one end to a surrounding
frame. The player places the free end of the instrument with the hand, or in
some other types by pulling a string attached to the blade. The instruments
have different manes among the various ethnic groups. In the south the most common
term is kubing, in the north ulibaw.
Philippine bamboo aerophones
include various types of flutes, pan-pipes, and reed pipes. The most
widespread and numerous are the flutes which are mostly end-blown with the
air stream directed into the open end of the tube.
The lip valley notch
flute, so called because of its mouthpiece which is obliquely cut and curved
at a slant to follow the contour of the player's lips, is found in northern
and southern Philippines. They are known by different names among the
different linguistic groups, such as the paldong
in the south and the palendag in the north. They
are instruments of leisure, used for serenading, courting, or merely to pass
the time away.
The nose flute, another type of end-blown flute, is found mostly in northern
Philippines where the Kalinga call it tongali,
the Bontok kaleleng, and the Ifugao
ungiung. It is found sporadically in some areas of the south
among the Hanunuo (lantuy), the Batak
(lantoy), and the Bukidnon (bulaktob).
The Cuyunin of Palawan have gigantic nose flutes with tubes much larger in
diameter than those found in Luzon.
Less common flutes are
the ring type called suling in southern
Philippines; the whistle type called thumpong (Subanun);
and the reed called saunay (Tausug).
Stopped pipes found in
northern Philippines are the saggeypo (Kalinga)
and the sagay-op (Bontok). The bamboo pipe is
closed on one end by a node with the open end held against the lower lip of
the player as he blows directly across the top. The pipe can be played
individually by one person or in ensembles of three or more.
Rarely used today is the bamboo panpipes called diwas,
diwdiwas, or dew-dew.
These consist of a number of bamboo pipes (5-8)strung together.
transverse flutes are adaptations or imitation of European versions evident
in the borrowed names such as flauta (Ilonggo,
Sebuano, Bicol); plawta (Manobo) and
palawta (Hanunuo, Waray). The Cuyunin use a transverse flute
called tipanu which is also found among the Batak
instruments are those made from shell or carabao horn. These are used for
calling people or sending messages over wide distances. Shell trumpets
include the budyong, lungga,
taburi. Carabao horns are the tambuli
(Tagalog) and kogao (Ifugao).
These are bamboo or wood stringed
instruments that may be struck, plucked, or bowed. They included zithers,
lutes, and bowed strings.
Philippine zithers have resonating bodies that are made from
bamboo tubes or half tubes with strings that run parallel to the length of
the tube. Tube zithers are found in northern Luzon, Mindanao, and Palawan.
They are of two types: polychordal zithers with several strings that run
around the tube, and parallel stringed zithers which have two strings on one
side of the tube.
zithers found in the Cordilleras, Mindanao and Palawan have strings that are
etched out of the bamboo body, remaining attached at both ends. Small wooden
frets are inserted beneath the string near the ends. The number of strings
varies from 5 to 8 or 9 and occasionally even 11. Some names by which this
zither is called are: kolitong,
saluray, sigitan, takul,
tangke, togo, and
In the parallel
stringed tube zithers, two bamboo strands, about 5 cm. apart, are etched out
to the tube to serve as strings. At mid-point of the tube, below the
strings, a small sound hole is bored and covered by a small bamboo plate
clipped to the strings. When played, the strings are struck by a bamboo
stick or plucked. The instrument, with slight variations, is found in
northern Luzon, Mindoro,
Mindanao, and Palawan where they are known by such names as
takumbo, and patigunggung.
Lutes are found only in the south, in Mindanao and Palawan. They are of the
long neck variety, with two stings that run from the neck to the base of the
resonating chamber. One sting plays a drone, the other a melody. Though all
the lutes are fretted, the location and number of frets vary between groups.
The frets of the Maranao and Maguindanao kudyapi
are glued to the body of the resonating chamber, while the frets of the
Bilaan fuglung, the Mansaka and Mandaya
kudlong and the Palawan kusyapi
are located on the neck of the instrument.
One stringed bowed
lutes (fiddles) of the long neck variety are found in Mindanao. They have a
sounding box made from a coconut half shell covered with a leaf, or a piece
of bark or animal skin. The string is make of abaca fibers, horse hair, and
more recently, wire. In is called duwagey by the
Manobo and Bilaan.
In the later period of the Spanish regime, a favorite string ensemble called
cumparsa emerged. It was anadaptation of similar
instrumental groups in Mexico (murza or
murga) and Spain (estudiantina).
During the early years of the American regime, the cumparsa was superceded
by the rondalla.
The rondalla ensemble
consists of plucked string instruments: the bandurria,
the laud, the
the six stringed gitara and the bajo
de unas or bass guitar.
bandurria is pear shaped, with a rounded back, a round sound
hole and a fretted neck. It serves as the melody instrument of the ensemble.
The octavina and bandurria
are tuned an octave below the laud. They furnish the inner harmonies and
contrapuntal elaboration to the melody. The
gitara's main function is to supply the arpeggiated or
chordal underpinnings of the ensemble. The bajo de unas
is tuned like the contra-bass.
Single and double headed drums are found throughout the Philippines. They
are variously shaped--conical, cylindrical, goblet shaped, barrel shaped.
Animal skins (snake, deer, or goat) is used as head/heads of the drum. They
may be beaten with sticks or by the palm portion of bare hands. Drums are
seldom used alone except to announce tidings over long distances.
Usually they are played with other instruments, particularly gongs, to form
different kinds of ensembles.
sulibao and kimbal of the Bontok and
Ibaloi are longitudinal slightly barrel shaped hollowed out logs with deer
skin heads on one end. The taller drum (ca. 80 cm) is called the kimbal; the
shorter (ca. 75 cm) is called the sulibaw. The
drum dead is small measuring about 6 cm. in diameter. They are played with
palms of two hands. The drums are combined with gongs and other instruments
to form different types of ensembles.
libbit, ludag is a conical
drum with a deer or goat skin head. It is played with a gong during
harvest time under the rice granary.
dabakan is a large goblet shaped drum used by the Maranao and
Maguindanao in their kulintang ensembles.
The forgoing listing
of Philippine musical instruments has been based primarily on holding of the
archives at the U.P. Center for Ethnomusicology. Drawings of the indigenous
instruments are taken from a Poster Set of Instruments done by artists
Cecile Dioquino-Hidalgo, Anna Arce, Jose Bienvenido Ignacio, and Leah Diaz.