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Kulintang (Musical Instrument of the Philippines)

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Kulintang (Musical Instrument of the Philippines)

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  • October 2007
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Kulintang is the (percussion) gong musical instrument of Mindanao, Philippines. It is a single musical instrument composed of 7-8 gongs laid horizontally on a stand. Kulintang music is considered an ancient tradition that predates the influences of Islam, Christianity, and the West. In the Philippines, it represents the highest form of gong music attained by Filipinos, Malaysians, and Indonesians. It is said to have existed for centuries. As ancient as this music is, there has never been substantial data recorded regarding the kulintang's origins. Kulintang music is mostly used as a public entertainment for different occasions. It can be used in festivals, parades, weddings, religious rituals, healing ceremonies, and large feasts. It was also said that kulintang music could be used for communicating long distance messages from one town to another. They only prohibit kulintang music during funerals and during the time of planting and harvest season. The gongs could weigh roughly from two pounds to three pounds and have dimensions from six to ten inches for their diameters and three to five inches for their height, and were decorated with carvings. The size of each of the gongs ranges from biggest to smallest with the biggest having the lowest pitch and the smallest having the highest pitch. The gongs are suspended horizontally on two thick parallel strings tied at both ends to a box-like wooden frame called an antangan. The height of the wooden frame is just a couple of inches higher than the seat of a regular dining chair. Small wooden bridges are placed across the frame beneath the strings to support the weight of the heavy gongs. The gongs were traditionally made from bronze, but due to its shortage after World War II, they were made from brass until today. The kulintang is played by striking the gongs with two wooden beaters or sticks, about a foot in length. The players would use techniques such as twirling the beaters, juggling them in mid-air, and...