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Kulintang notation is a form of cipher notation shown below wherein the top row is the right hand (R) and the bottom row is the left hand (L): 

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In contemporary contexts, western notation may be used. Below are two (2) forms of mixed western notation and kulintang cipher notation used by the performer with AYE during PGVIM’s 2018 symposium. In the first one, the pitches are easily seen:

First example- Book Pongtorn's Lost in t

First example : Book Pongtorn's Lost in the Jungle

In the second one, it is closer to kulintang cipher notation wherein the performer can easily see which notes to play with the right hand and/or the left hand. Both forms of mixed notations are valid.


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Second example : Jose Buencamino’s Hininga

It is also best to specify the eight (8) selected gongs from the beginning of the piece as shown below


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Third Example : Sunghyun Lee’s Dances of the Lights

The piece may also utilize a change of tuning during the middle of the piece, as long as the piece provides enough time to change as shown below


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Fourth Example : Book Pongtorn’s Lost in the Jungle

The next example shown below maximizes the improvisatory nature of the kulintang. The composer simply notes that the performer may variate freely on the Binalig pattern (a very common Maguindanaon rhythmic mode) for six bars. This would of course require the composer and the performer to communicate properly to rightfully achieve the intention of the piece:

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Common Kulintang Techniques

It is absolutely interesting and enjoyable for both the composer and performer to use new techniques and find new colors for the kulintang but it is of course essential to know the traditional techniques first so that we may know how to maximize the sounds common techniques of the kulintang that is idiomatic to its traditional sound. The next page shows the common techniques for the kulintang:​


Possible Tunings

A kulintang set consists of 8 gongs laid in a row with no strict tuning. Traditionally, it is often tuned in pentatonic scale with no strict pitch center (doesn’t matter if it’s major or minor, modal, etc.) These are the pitches of the gongs I own, you may choose 8 gongs at a time.  

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available pitches of Harold’s kulintang set -- choose 8 at a time



You may watch an extended video explaining all of these here:


See the video AYE 2020 | Kulintang Video 1 (Demonstration) for an extended look on the instrument  and the complimentary video AYE 2020 | Kulintang Video 2 (Notation) for tips on notating the instrument with western notation.


Both of these are unlisted videos, please do not share without permission from the owner.

For academic references, you may also see:

Butocan, Aga Mayo Palabunibunyan. Manila: Philippine Women's University, 


Dela Peña, La Verne Crossing Borders: the Migration of the Mindanaoan Kulintang, 2015

Liao, Janine Josephine Arianne A. Rippling Waves: Aga Mayo Butocan and the Transmission of the Maguindanao Kulintang. Unpublished Undergraduate Research Paper, University of the Philippines-Diliman. College of Music, 2013

Otto, Steven Walter The Muranao Kakolintang: An Approach to the Repertoire University of Washington, 1976

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