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Gongs and Bamboo: A Panorama of Philippine Music Instruments

by Jose Maceda

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This panorama is a pictorial view of music instruments starting with older bamboo and other instruments of undetermined age, going on two types of gongs-flat in Northern Luzon and bossed in the South. These two areas may be viewed as pocket cultures comparable to other pocket cultures in Borneo, Sumatra, other islands in Southeast Asia and the mountain regions south of and including Yunnan province of China, thus placing the music of Luzon and Mindanao in a larger geographical context. For example, mouth organs in Borneo and continental Southeast Asia are absent in the Philippines, where, however, separate pipes of panpipes are on occasion still being played by groups of boys among the Kalingga of Luzon. The musical elements of drone and melody identified in two lutes in Borneo or ensembles in Yunnan find examples in two players of the same tube zither in Mindanao and flat gongs in Luzon. The nearly 500 photographs in the book are almost all taken in the field, showing details of making and playing bamboo buzzers, jaw harps, zithers, percussion tubes, flutes and other instruments. Manners of tapping and sliding with the hands on flat gongs differ from beating them with sticks. Examples of big bossed gongs with wide rims (agung) struck with a mallet on the boss and a stick on the rim show affinities with a manner of playing bronze drums in Yunnan. In North Luzon, men and women dancing in circles with outstretched hands distinguish them from solo dancers with minimum body movements in the South.… (more)
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This panorama is a pictorial view of music instruments starting with older bamboo and other instruments of undetermined age, going on two types of gongs-flat in Northern Luzon and bossed in the South. These two areas may be viewed as pocket cultures comparable to other pocket cultures in Borneo, Sumatra, other islands in Southeast Asia and the mountain regions south of and including Yunnan province of China, thus placing the music of Luzon and Mindanao in a larger geographical context. For example, mouth organs in Borneo and continental Southeast Asia are absent in the Philippines, where, however, separate pipes of panpipes are on occasion still being played by groups of boys among the Kalingga of Luzon. The musical elements of drone and melody identified in two lutes in Borneo or ensembles in Yunnan find examples in two players of the same tube zither in Mindanao and flat gongs in Luzon. The nearly 500 photographs in the book are almost all taken in the field, showing details of making and playing bamboo buzzers, jaw harps, zithers, percussion tubes, flutes and other instruments. Manners of tapping and sliding with the hands on flat gongs differ from beating them with sticks. Examples of big bossed gongs with wide rims (agung) struck with a mallet on the boss and a stick on the rim show affinities with a manner of playing bronze drums in Yunnan. In North Luzon, men and women dancing in circles with outstretched hands distinguish them from solo dancers with minimum body movements in the South.

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Collection of essays by the late Jose Maceda, Professor Emeritus at the College of Music, University of the Philippines, Diliman; includes photos taken by Prof. Maceda while conducting his field research for his dissertation c. 1950s, and photos taken by Fekke de Jager while on contract with the University of the Philippines. A few additional photos from various sources are also included. Black and white photos, only.
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