T A O M U S I C   O R D E R I N G   I N F O R M A T I O N


Aga Mayo-Butocan, MAGUINDANAO KULINTANG, Tao Music, 1995
By Aga Mayo-Butocan

Esteemed Maguindanaoan Kulintang master from Simuay, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, Southern Mindanao, Philippines, Aga Mayo Butocan has devoted more than twenty years of her life to teaching and performing the Kulintang. She devised a system of number notation, to facilitate the teaching of the instrument to non-Maguindanaons. She authored the first Kulintang textbook: "Palabuni-bunyan" (Manila: Philippine Women's University Press, 1987). With academic backgrounds in Education and Ethnomusicology, she currently teaches at the University of the Philippines College of Music, and at the Asian Institute of Liturgy and Music. As a performer and Kulintang spokesperson, she has toured Japan, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Taiwan, and the United States, to represent the Philippines in music festivals and conferences on indigenous cultures.

Kulintang music as presented in this recording is based on its traditional practice by Maguindanaoans of Maguindanao province, Southern Mindanao, Philippines.

Among the Maguindanaoans and other Philippine Islamic groups, as well as in certain highland tribes in Southern Mindanao, the most commonly enjoyed music is that of the Kulintang.

The Kulintang is a set of eight knobbed gongs in graduated sizes, layed-out horizontally on a wooden frame. Made from either brass, wood, bamboo, or metal plates, it is played with a pair of wooden sticks.

Although Maguindanao Kulintang, the album, is devoted to the music of the Kulintang as a solo instrument, it is important to note that the Kulintang is the main melodic instrument of the Palabuni-bunyan or Basalen ensemble and is accompanied by the Debakan, a single-headed, goblet-shaped skin drum played with a pair of bamboo sticks; the Agong, a big kettle-shaped, wide-rimmed gong suspended from a wooden frame and played with rubber-padded sticks; the Gandingan, or two pairs of large, narrow-rimmed gongs with shallow bosses, arranged in slightly graduated sizes, suspended from a wooden frame, and played with rubber-padded sticks; and the Babendir which is a small thin-rimmed gong with a shallow boss and usually hung beside the Gandingan.

Maguindanaoan Kulintang pieces fall under four categories, classified according to their characteristic rhythmic patterns, tempo, social function, and emotion conveyed during performance. Binalig, Sinulog, and Tidtu pieces are heard in various kinds of festivities; but Tagunggo is exclusively played for rituals. Binalig is played to express feelings of anger, love, joy. Sinulog, to relay sadness. Tidtu pieces are played to display one's virtuosity, and are often heard in musical competitions.

There are two styles of playing the Kulintang among Maguindanaoans. A Minuna refers to the traditional way, characterized by a slower tempo, with the aim of achieving clarity in each gong sound. A Bago, on the other hand, has a relatively faster pace, aimed to showcase the player's skill, specially in executing melodic and rhythmic ornamentations.


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