Traditional Forms of Music Ramon P. Santos, Ph. D.
are two distinct repertoires in Philippine oral traditions: 1) musical forms
that evolved from Southeast Asian cultures, usually referred to as
indigenous traditions, and 2) musical forms that developed in rural
Christian communities, more commonly known as folk music. They may be
further categorized into vocal, instrumental, a combination of both, as well
as forms that integrate these elements with physical movement, space, dance,
In the first category,
many of the musical forms are related to different occasions such as life
cycle events and occupational activities and different kinds of rituals. In
the Cordillera Administrative Region in Northern Luzon, musical performances
are done during the agricultural cycle, peace pacts, courtship and marriage,
and death rites. These events are highlighted by a feast ritual called cañao, chaw-es, bugnasor peshit among the Ibaloi.
Vocal genres among the indigenous
communities may be identified according to their functions. Lullabies are
called owiwi (Kalinga),while other infancy-related
songs include dagdagayand oppia
(Kalinga), langan bata-bata(Tausug),
bua(Subanen), and kawayanna (Kalinga).
Courtship is usually performed in song-debates such as the
daieng (Kankana-ey), Batac inanen,
estijaro of the Tagacaolo, and the
bandayuy of the Matigsalog, which is accompanied on the kuglong (2-string lute) and saluroy
(polychordal zither). There are love incantations like the Manobo antang (for match-making) andsindaay,
tarasul (Tausug), tamuyong,
dango, oggayam, songs of greetings
and advice during a Kalinga wedding. Entertainment songs include thesalidummayand dangdang-ay,
bayok(Mandaya), and the Manobo limbay, and the Ibaloi allegorical ballad called tamiya.
Work songs are called duduru among the
Aeta and gagonapu of the Subanen. referring to
both fishing and hunting. These songs may be as specific as the Kalinga dakuyon for hunting bats, the Ilongot
dinaweg for catching wild boar and kellanganselangandkellangan
magsangkaliwhich are sung during Sama shark-fishing. The
Kalinga sing the dandannag and the
owayatfor gathering firewood and the Gatac sing the didayu
while making wine. The sowe-ey is a rice-pounding
song of the Bontoc. There are also vocal genres that are connected with
special rituals, as the bajog and
ad'dem which the Ibaloi sing for good harvest, the Bontoc kapya to cure different ailments, the
alasan of the Kankana-ey to pray for good fortune, as well as
the Ilongot dawak and the Kalinga
alisig, both medicine chants.
In death rites, the Bontoc chant the didiyaw,
similar to the Manobo ulaging and Isneg sangsangit.
The balow is sung by the Matigsalog wife to honor
her dead husband. Prayer chants among the Islamic communities include the
Salathul Juma(Friday prayer), the
Tarawe, and the dekir or dikil. Tonal phrases are called lugu
which are used in the reading of the Ku'ran
There are vocal genres that may be considered signature forms for
specific cultures, such as the Maranao bayok (a
form of musical speech-making), the Ibaloi badiw
(extemporized leader-chorus poetic verses), and the Kalinga
ading (vocal exhortation).On the other hand, specific epics
are highly representative of the history and culture of the different
communities; like the Maranao Darangen, the
Palawan Kudaman, the Ifugao Hudhud,
the Kalinga Ullalim, the Maguindanao Rajah Indrapatra,
and the Manobo Ulahingan andTuwaang.
Vocal music among rural Christians may be classified into the
religious and secular forms. The former consists mostly of hymns related to
the different period of the liturgical year, except for the
pasyon, which is the day-and-night-long chanting of the life
and passion of Christ during the period of Lent. This chanting uses ancient
tune formulas like the awit and
tagulaylay. At Christmas time, the paraliturgical event called
panuluyan re-enacts the plight of Mary and Joseph, at which the
dialogue verses are sung on pre-existing tunes. Local carols are called villancicos, dayegon
among the Visayan, and tamborra of the Cuyunin.
During Easter, the aleluya and hosana
are sung during the salubong (first meeting of the resurrected
Christ and Mary). During the May processions, such hymns as the
Aurora, Kristiyanong turog, dotok, gozo,
are commonly heard in the Bicol region. Thedalit
is a strophic hymn with repeated melody. Among the Tagalog of Batangas, it
is sung before and after the performance of subli. To honor the
dead, the Ilocano still perform the dung-aw.
Secular folk vocal music covers a wide variety of forms, from
long romance narratives called awit, kurido,
kuriru (Kapangpangan) and pinagbiag, and
ballads like the Visayan composo, to short song
genres; e.g. kumintang andkundiman
of the Tagalog, the Tagalog lullaby called oyayi,
the harana (serenade), children's songs, as well as song-debates such
as the pandangguhan, the balitao
from Cebu and Bohol, and the dal-lot of the
Instrumental music in the indigenous cultures are usually
identified according to the types of ensembles, playing styles or
instruments such as the sulibao ensemble of the Ibaloi, gangsa
pattung or toppaya, kulintang, tangunggua'n, etc., as well as titles of
individual pieces, like "Kapagonor", "F' rnawa Klongonon", "Palandok"
, or "Sungsung patubig". The kulintang repertoire may
consist of a suite of pieces based on melodic-rhythmic modes such as
duyug, sinulug, tidtu, binalig, and tangunggu of the
Maguindanao. The tagunggu(instrumental music
making) of the Yakan is usually performed as a set of two improvised pieces:
termtagunggu among the peoples of Mindanao
uplands usually refers to the music of the hanging agung or kulintang. Among
the Kankana-ey, the takik is music played by the
gong and drum ensemble to accompany dance.
Instrumental music in the countryside is usually performed by the
brass band or its replication in bamboo instruments, the rondalla
(plucked string ensemble), and various smaller combinations of string and
wind instruments. The repertoire consists of hymns, marches,
pasodoble, medleys of popular folk tunes, as well as longer
compositions such as overtures and one-movement concertant pieces. The
latter are usually played during band competitions called serenata.
The town band is quite indispensable in religious activities such as
processions and funerals, and it also assists local theatrical productions
like the komedya and senakulo. The smaller ensembles are
often utilized to accompany the singing in churches.
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About the Author:
Ramon P. Santos, Ph. D. is a composer and musicologist, having received training at the University of the Philippines, Indiana University and the State University of New York at Buffalo. He was a full fellow at the Summer Courses in New Music at Darmstadt and undertook post-graduate work in Ethnomusicology at the University of Illinois with grants from the Asian Cultural Council and the Ford Foundation. His works have been featured in major festivals in Europe and in Asia. Recently, he has been awarded residency fellowships at the Bellagio Study Center and the Civitella Ranieri Center in Italy.
In the field of musicology, he has undertaken researches not only in Philippine and Asian contemporary music, but also studied Javanese gamelan music and dance and Nan Kuan, and engaged in continuing field studies of Philippine traditional music such as the Ibaloi badiw, the Maranao bayok, and the musical repertoires of the Mansaka, Bontoc, Yakan, and Boholano. He has contributed major articles on Philippine music to various encyclopedias and anthologies such as The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, the Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, the Compendium of the Humanities in the Philippines. He was chief editor and writer of the book Musics of the ASEAN, and has produced CD’s on Mindanao Highland Music, Mansaka Music and Music of the Bontoc from the Mountain Province.
He is currently serving as University Professor of the UP, Commissioner for the Arts of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, and 2nd Vice President of the International Music Council.