Kulintang is a musical tradition can be found across the Southeast Asian Archipelago. The style of kulintang we played is found in the Southern Philippines among the Maguindanaoan people, in the province of Maguindanao, Mindanao.
There are five instruments in the complete Maguindanao kulintang ensemble. The melodic instrument and leader of the ensemble is the Kulintang, which is also the name given to the ensemble. It consists of 7 to 9 bossed or knobbed bronze or brass pot gongs, which are suspended on a strung cord. Typically, there are 8 gongs, though this may vary from kulintang set to set. The tuning of the gongs themselves will vary too, in that each gong maker and kulintang player have their own perceptions of good tuning. There are as many tunings as there are sets according to some kulintang players. The pot is played with two unpadded soft word beaters.
The drum of the ensemble is called the Dabakan, and is considered to be one of two essential instruments. It is a goblet-shaped drum, whose drum head is made of either goat, snake or lizard’s skin. It is played with two bamboo sticks, which can range in thickness and suppleness. The dabakan has the role of binding the music together by marking out the rhythmic mode – a key factor in kulintang music – as well as playing at a similar rate to kulintang.
The small gong that is stuck on its rim/side is called the Babendir, and is also known as the timekeeper of the ensemble. It strangely has a boss/knob like the gongs of the kulintang, though is strangely not struck there. The role of babendir is to clearly enunciate the rhythmic mode of a piece, for both all musicians and listeners to hear.
The fourth instrument of the ensemble is the Agung. You may find one of two agung in an ensemble, which are usually hung either on a stand or on a sturdy tree branch. The agung is played by one or two – depending on the number of agung – using a rubber-padded beater, and is played on both the boss/knob and the face of the gong.
Try playing Kulintang online http://www.kulintangexperience.ph/
By: Larry Oliver Catungal