This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Music in the Philippines presents a wide array of examples ranging from the folk to the popular, from art music influenced by the Western world to the ethnic and indigenous. Here lies an interesting display, a tapestry of musical texture, sonority, forms, and rhythms, all contributing to the wealth of musicality among its native peoples. As part of Asia, the Philippines showed first contacts with Islam in western Mindanao and in the Sulu islands from the 1300s. In the 1600s, European influence began when Spain established a presence in the islands. Hinduism and Buddhism had no lasting impact on Philippine culture, though they influenced Indonesia and continental Southeast Asia. The languages of the Philippines and the aborigines of Taiwan form the northern group of Austronesian languages of insular Southeast Asia. Philippine languages may be divided into three geographical areas: north, central, and south. Together, they number some 65 million speakers.
Musically, what remains of aboriginal traditions is confined to peoples in Northern Luzon, Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago, Palawan, and Mindoro. Mainly, the North covers the traditions of the Cordillera and the South deals mostly with musics of non-Muslim peoples of Mindanao, Sulu, Palawan, and Mindoro. Filipinos living on Luzon and the Visayan islands created a new music based on a Western idiom but with a genuine Philippine character; in the process, however, it lost most of its Asian identity. Two plants, bamboo and rice, have a direct relationship with both lowland and upland Philippine music. Bamboo is important not only for shelter, food, weapons traps, and receptacles, but also for musical instruments—flutes,
buzzers, clappers, scrapers, reeds, lutes, zithers, Jew’s harps, and slit drums. Though root crops are a staple of mountain peoples, rice has the greatest cultural and ritual value, and is the focus of agricultural feasts, held during planting and especially after harvest. The North The Cordillera, the largest mountain range of Northern Luzon, is home to more than a million people speaking related languages: Bontok, Ibaloy, Ifugao, Ilonggot, Isneg, Kalinga, Kankanay, Tinggian, and lesser-known ones. A wet-rice system of agriculture prevails. The mountainsides are leveled off to form parcels of land or terraces to hold the water necessary for growing rice. They are constructed in many-shaped tiers, one higher than another, along gorges sometimes 600 meters deep. The terraces cover a wide area, creating spectacular panoramic views.
Gong traditions Flat gongs, the principal musical instrument in the Cordillera, are played especially in rice-harvesting ceremonies, weddings, and pacts of peace. The playing of gongs is also associated with headhunting. Owning a set of gongs is like an heirloom to the peoples of the Cordillera. The Bontok During the evenings, especially during abstinence from work, boys court girls in their sleeping quarters. This time is an occasion to play the nose flute (kalaleng), whose descending pentatonic melodies sound pleasing in the silence of the night, almost as inaudible as the Jew’s harp (awedeng) that some boys play instead. The girls sing responsorial songs (kudya, tinaroyod) or choral songs (salidommay) in which they prod the boys, hiding in the darkness, to identify themselves. The Kalinga More than the other Cordillera groups, the Kalinga have preserved a bambooand-gong musical tradition, played in everyday life and festivities. They have
more types of bamboo instruments and manners of playing gongs than most other upland groups. Examples of these are the bamboo nose flute (tongali), bamboo polychordal tube zither (kulittong); ensemble instruments in sets of six such as the bamboo stamping tubes (tongatong), bamboo quill-shaped tubes (patangguk), bamboo leg xylophones (patteteg), bamboo buzzers (bungkaka), bamboo pipes-in-a-row (saggeypo) and the flat gongs (gangsa). Some bamboo instruments imitate the sound and manner of playing of the gong ensembles. The Ifugao Known as the ones who built the legendary Banaue Rice Terraces, the Ifugao also have a tradition of using three flat gongs called gangha to produce repeating musical patterns as ostinati. Another Ifugao instrument, a yokeshaped wooden bar (bangibang), has unique social importance, as it is played jointly by groups of men in villages only on the violent death of one of their members. The Ibaloy The Ibaloy have developed the sulibao ensemble , combining two slim, conical drums, two flat gongs, and a pair of iron bars. They produce a quiet music in which all five instruments can be heard distinctly. Vocal music Vocal music in the Cordilleras is known for its epics, chanted songs in verse (Bontok ugod, Ifugao hudhud, Kalinga ullalim) praising famous heroes. Hudhud are sung by Ifugao women at harvest time in the rice field and at wakes. The South In the southern Philippines, about 1.5 million people living in the mountains of Mindanao and other islands have kept alive an indigenous music culture related to the music of the Maranao, the Maguindanao clustered along the banks of the Mindanao River, and the Tausug, the Sama, the Badjao, and the Yakan of the Sulu islands—all of whom acquired a Muslim culture in the 1300s and 1400s. The mountain folk speak languages of another family, the principal ones being Manobo, Subanun, Bagobo, Bilaan, T’boli, Tiruray, Mandaya, and Tagakaolo in Mindanao; Palawan, Tagbanwa, and Batak in Palawan; Hanunoo, Bukid, Pula, and others in Mindoro.
Gong traditions Several ensembles of hanging gongs distinguish the music of the South, where bossed gongs mark the main differentiation from the flat gong culture of the North. In turn, bossed gongs are related to hanging gongs in Indonesia and Malaysia. In Mindanao, Palawan, and Mindoro, hanging gongs form a musical culture separate from ensembles which incorporate them with gongs laid horizontally in a row (kulintang). Ensembles using the kulintang are traditionally associated with peoples of Muslim culture in Mindanao and Sulu. The T’boli The T’boli live in the Tiruray highlands of South Cotabato Province. One of their major rituals includes a thanksgiving feast, also a renewal of marriage vows; it is a ritual accomplished in stages lasting several years. Hanging
gongs are played during lavish feasts. T’boli gongs are big, heavy instruments, with a prominent boss and wide turned-in rims. The Subanun The Subanun are the primary tribal group of the far end of Southwest Mindanao. Subanun ensembles use two hanging gongs and other percussion. The variation in their instrumentation and their use in different social functions demonstrate an interest in colors of sound, rather than in pitch. Bamboo and other instrumental traditions In Mindanao, many musical instruments are not made of bronze. Those made of bamboo include flutes (palendag, suling, lantoy), slit drums (agung a bentong), scrapers (tagutok) and Jew’s harps (kubing, kumbing, aruding). A popular instrument made of wood is the kudyapi which is a two-stringed lute with drone and melody, now often used in neo-ethnic bands. Islamic traditions The Maguindanao Among the Maguindanao, the kulintang is the primary musical instrument. Other gong instruments of this group include one, two, or three vertically suspended gongs: the agung (a large, deep-rimmed gong, with a higher boss), two pairs of gandingan (gongs with narrower rim and lower boss), and one babandil (smaller than an agung, with a narrower, turned-in rim and a low boss). The ensemble is complemented by a drum called dabakan. One primary function of kulintang music is to entertain guests at public occasions, including weddings, baptisms, and other formal rites, providing a unique medium of interaction within the community. This interaction may be in the form of a competition, in which players pit their musical and creative skills against each other, or in a dialogue between individual men and women, which could later develop into courtship.
The Maranao Another major bossed-gong tradition exists among the Maranao. The Maranao kulintang ensemble consists of an eight-piece kulintang, a dubukan, a bubundir, and two deep-rimmed gongs, played separately by two musicians. Maranao kulintang music has been described as a medium for expressing
Maranao traditional culture and etiquette, and as a form of communication, especially among the players. Musician’s formal and artistic conduct during a performance is particularly emphasized, including the manner of approaching and moving away from the instruments, and the appropriate position for handling and playing each instrument. The indigenous music of the Philippines is represented by gongs and bamboo instruments played by people living in the Cordillera of Northern Luzon, the mountains and coastal regions of Mindanao, and other islands of the South. Within each area, certain musical constants can be observed. Counting in units of two or four is the basis of the music of the gongs and some bamboo instruments. Repetition, ostinato, or drone—with or without melody—make up the musical structure of most instrumental ensembles in the Philippines. Incorporating Indigenous Material in Contemporary Choral Composition Searching for new or unheard material has always been the quest of contemporary composers. They always seek to find ways to enhance and question the rigidity of composition and try to add the “exotic” in their work. For Filipino composers, this is not so difficult. As heard in the previous lecture, there are hundreds of ethnolinguistic groups in the Philippines each having its own, unique music. Gathering material from them would be a cinch, it just takes a little bit of research and immersion to incorporate their music into the composer’s own idiom. Since the 1960s, there have been great attempts to arrange Philippine folksongs into choral music, and much has been done successfully. Also, contemporary compositions have since used indigenous instruments to add to the already astounding plethora of musical colors and textures present in the Western concept of sound. The focus of composers is to break away from the Western notion of musical style and give in to their finding of roots, and ultimately innate Filipino heritage. For why do we need to look elsewhere than in our own country, to produce a sound concept, which is innately ours? To illustrate, I shall give examples of some folksong and choral compositions using indigenous material, for our learning purposes. EXAMPLE A. (Filipino Folksongs) 1. Iddem-dem Mallida Itneg victory chant and funeral dirge, using flat gongs 2. Digdigwi Chant from the Mountain Province, using Jew’s harp 3. Chua-ay Igorot planting and mourning song, using flat gongs 4. Mamayog Akun Maranao folk song which tells of a lady flirting, using kulintang EXAMPLE B. Awit sa Ilawan sa Takipsilim (Song to the Light at Sunset) by Francisco F. Feliciano (b. 1941)
for chorus, indigenous instruments, handbells, tubular bells and sonic sculptures
EXAMPLE C. Glong-Ngo Ko (Praise You) by Excelsis Betil (Bagobo) for chorus and kubing EXAMPLE D. Tinig ng Salmo by Ruben Federizon for chorus, kubing, bungkaka and finger bells EXAMPLE E. Gabaq-an by Ruben Federizon for chorus, finger bells and bamboo clappers
The main source for this paper was the entry on Philippine Music in the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.