The power of kulintang music
In her public lecture before a rapt audience at Faura Hall AVR on September 29 2016, Gawad Tanglaw ng Lahi awardee Aga Mayo Butocan highlighted the importance of Maguindanaon Kulintang music.
“Ang kulintang music para sa amin sa Mindanao ay isang uri ng musika na talagang napakahalaga sa bawat buhay ng katutubo. Ito at ginagamit hindi lang sa masasayang okasyon kungdi sa mga rituals (Kulintang music is very important among tribe members in Mindanao. It is used not only on happy occasions but also in rituals),” Butocan said.
Since kulintang has no notes, Butocan said that playing the set of gongs require improvisation. “Kapag ikaw ang traditional musician, hindi ka lang performer, ikaw din ang composer (If you are a traditional musician, you’re not just the performer, you are also the composer).” A mark of a good kulintang musician, she said, is one who can add ‘color’ to the piece he or she is playing. It has no lyrics so it is up to the musician to put meaning into the piece through his/ her playing. One way to do this is by changing the rhythm of the piece — speeding up or slowing down.
To make the audience better understand the dynamics of kulintang music, Butocon brought 5 of her students from UP Diliman. They played as a kulintang ensemble — kulintang, agong (wide-rimmed gong), dabakan (goblet-shaped drum), gandingan (set of 4 rimmed gongs), and babandir (small-rimmed gong).
Butocan ended the lecture with a performance with her students.