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What is Kulintang?


What is kulintang?

Preserved for more than 1700 years by the indigenous, Islamized ethnolinguistic groups in Mindanao, kulintangan is a living testament to the rich cultural history of the Philippines. 

Kulintangan is an ancient form of orchestra music which predates the influences of Islam, Christianity or the West in the Philippine Islands (PI). As part of the larger ‘knobbed gong-chime culture’ of  Southeast Asia, kulintang music ensembles have been playing for centuries. It is said to have evolved from a simple native signaling tradition, and developed into its present form with the incorporation of knobbed gongs from Sunda.

The ensemble is made up of five instruments. The kulintang instrument consists of a row of small brass or bronze gongs horizontally laid upon a wooden rack; it is the main melody instrument and is played by striking the bosses of the gongs with two wooden beaters. Accompanying instruments include the gandang, the two headed cylindrical drum, as well as the duahan agong pair consisting of the bua (a giant sized gong) and pulakan (a narrow shaped knobbed gong).

Compositions are passed down orally from generation to generation. 

The beauty of the music of kulintangan lies in the collective artistry of all the members of the ensemble. As an oral tradition, one has to hear it repeatedly until it ‘gets in the blood.’ Once a musician has trained his or her ear to recognize rhythms and meldies, one can perform the required improvisation, still following the traditional formats. Of course, one sets the temp. Likewise, another directs the general theme of music. While one musician establishes the tempo, another will direct the general theme.  The piece then evolves fromt, they will listen to each other carefully, augmenting and playing in counterpoint to one another. It is at this moment that the diversity of their talents and the diversity of their musical instruments come to life.



Palabuniyan Kulitang Ensemble, Directed by Danongan Kalanduyan

Palabuniyan CD Listen to clips from the album,”Pakaraguian sa Maguindanao – A Celebration of Kulintang Music and Dance.”



The Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble “The Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemblefeaturing Danongan Kalanduyan, Kulintang Master Musician” 
Click here for more information. 
The Oral Tradition of Maguindanaon Kulintang Newly released CD!
“The Oral Tradition of Maguindanaon Kulintang”

by Danongan S. Kalanduyan
Click here for more information. 
PKE CD Cover “Traditional Kulintang Music & Dance of the Southern Philippines”
by Danongan S. Kalanduyan and the Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble.
Click here for more information.


  1. Gongs says:

    Nice article. There isn’t much info out there on the kulintang.

    • Nievera Andrea says:

      Hi gongs,

      Ill be updating the website more frequently now. Our founder has been doing field work and we’ve had more performances.


  2. alvin says:


    online kulintang hehe! wak na piano!
    kulintang is a native music instrument of the philippines.

    • Nievera Andrea says:

      Hi Alvin,

      Thanks for comment. I was I wondering if you have a new link. Kulintangexperience.ph seems to be gone now.


  3. Kulintronica says:

    Great article! Thanks for all of your great work Pakaraguian!

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  6. Jase says:

    Nice! So much info about kulintang -_- . Hate This!

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