Sunday, May 4, 2014

Yakan's Music History Backround

The Yakan are farmers for whom both vocal and 

instrumental music is an important part of both the 

agricultural cycle and social interaction. Yakan 

instruments are made out of wood, bamboo, and metal. 

The gabbang is one such instrument. It is made of 

bamboo sectioned into pieces of diminishing size and 

arranged like a xylophone. Around the fields, the 

farmers’ children play the gabbang in order to guard the 

crops from encroaching animals.64 Another instrument of the gabbang family, the 

kwintangan kayu, is like a xylophone hung vertically from a tree branch with bamboo 

slats that taper down to the shortest at its base. During planting season, an open platform 

is built high up in a tree where a musician will play as the rice crop matures. The sounds 

of the kwintangan kayu serenade the seedlings, just as a Yakan lover uses music to woo 

the object of his affections. “Its resonance is believed to gently caress the plants, rousing 

them from their deep sleep, encouraging them to grow and yield more fruit.”65 

There are several types of Yakan vocal music. Lugu are melodies that accompany oral 

readings of the Quran. Kelangan are one of several varieties of courting songs sung at 

gatherings by soloists and male and female groups who sing back and forth. The katakata 

is publicly sung Yakan oral history. Rooted in the animist tradition, the Yakan believe 

that such stories of their ancestry come from beings who originated in otherworldly 



64 “Yakan: Performing Arts.” Ting, Gwendalene. 1999. 
65 National Commission for Culture and the Arts. de la Paz, Salvo. “National Living Treasure Awardees.” 

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