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Hornbostel-Sachs System

System devised by Eric Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs

Most widely used system for classifying musical instruments by ethnomusicologist and
Based on the Dewey Decimal System
Has four top-level classification: Idiophones, membranophones, chordophones and

Classification of Philippine Indigenous Instruments

1. Idiophones sound is primarily produced by the actual body of the instrument vibrating,
rather than a string, membrane, or column of air. In essence this includes all percussion
instruments apart from drums, as well as some instruments.
They are further subdivided into those that are struck, scraped, plucked, shaken,
or rubbed.
In the Philippines they are metal and wooden (principally bamboo) idiophones.
Metal Idiophones has two categories: Flat gongs and bossed gongs. Flat
gongs are found principally in the North and commonly referred as gangsa. The
gongs vary in size, struck with wooden sticks, padded sticks and slapped with the
palm of the hand. In the South, gongs have a central profusion or boss. They
have three types: (1) Kulintang set of graduated gongs laid in a row, (2)
Agung larger, deep rimmed gongs with sides that are turned, (3) Gandingan
gongs with narrower rims and less prominent bosses. These instruments are
played alone but are often combines with other instruments.
Bamboo Idiophones includes xylophones, drums, quill shaped tubes, stamping
tubes, scrapers, buzzers and clappers are commonly found in the North.
Bamboo xylophone, gabbang is found in the South. It consists of bamboo keys
of graduated lengths mounted on a trapezoidal box. Individual xylophone like
blades called pateteg are struck with bamboo sticks.
Jews harps are bound all over the Philippines. They are made of bamboo or
metal. It is a type of mouth resonated instrument consisting of a flexible tongue
fixed at one end to a surrounding frame.
2. Membranophones sound is primarily produced by the vibration of a tightly stretched
membrane (skin).
Single and double headed drums are found in the throughout the Philippines.
Variously shapedconical, cylindrical, goblet shaped. Beaten with sticks or the
palm of the hand. Animal skin (snake, deer, or goat) is used as heads of the
drum. Used to announce tidings over long distances. Usually they are played
with other instruments, particularly gongs.
Sulibao and kimbal in the north are longitudinal slightly barrel shaped hallowed
out logs with deer skin heads on one end.
Dabakan is found in the south, a large goblet shaped drum used in the Kulintang
3. Chordophones sound is primarily produced by the vibration of a string or strings. This
group includes all instruments generally called strings.
Bamboo or wood stringed instruments that may be struck, plucked, or bowed.
They include zithers, lutes, and bowed strings.
Philippine zithers (kolitong) have resonating bodies that are made from bamboo
tubes or half tubes with strings that run parallel to the length of the tube.
Boat lutes (kudyapi) are found only in the south. They are of long neck variety,
with two strings that run from the neck to the base of the resonating chamber.
One string plays the drone, the other the melody.
4. Aerophones sound is produced by vibrating air. The instrument itself does not vibrate,
and there are no vibrating strings or membranes.
Philippine bamboo aerophones include types of flute, pan-pipes, and reed
pipes. Most widespread are flutes, which are end blown with the air stream
directed into the open end of the tube.
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 players lips found in the
North and South. Nose flute, end blown flute.
Stopped pipes found in the North are Saggeypo. The bamboo pipes 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. Bamboo panpipes consists of bamboo
tubes strung together.
Other blown instruments are budyong made of shell and Tambuli carabao