Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Kudyapi- The Philippine Two-Stringed Lute

The kutiyapi or kudyapi, is a Philippine two-stringed, fretted boat-lute. It is the only stringed instrument among the Maguindanao people, and one of several among other groups such as the Maranao and Manobo. It is four to six feet long with nine frets made of hardened beeswax. The instrument is carved out of solid soft wood such as from the jackfruit tree.

Common to all kutiyapi instruments, a constant drone is played with one string while the other, an octave above the drone, plays the melody with a kebit or rattan pluck (commonly made from plastic nowadays). This feature, which is also common to other related Southeast Asian "boat lutes", which were influenced by varying degrees by Indian concepts of melody and scale via the Malay archipelago.

Among the T'Boli, Manobo and other Lumad groups, the instrument (known as Hegelung, Kudyapi or Fedlung) is tuned to a major pentatonic scale. Among groups like the Bagobo, the Kutiyapi (Kudlung) is also used as a bowed instrument and is generally played to accompany improvised songs.

A characteristic difference between Mindanaon Moro Kutiyapi and the non-Islamized Lumad equivalents is the style and set up of vocal accompaniment. Among the Lumad groups, the kudyapi player and vocalist are separate performers, and vocalists use a free-flowing method of singing on top of the rhythm of the instrument, whereas among the Maguindanao and Maranao, there are set rhythms are phrases connected with the melody of the kutiyapi, with the player doubling as the vocalist (bayoka), if need be.

Also called: Kutyapi, Kutiapi (Maguindanaon), Kotyapi (Maranao), Kotapi (Subanon), Fegereng (Tiruray), Faglong, Fuglung (B'laan), Kudyapi (Bukidnon and Tagbanua), Hegelong (T’boli) and Kuglong, Kadlong, Kudlong or Kudlung (Manobo, Mansaka, Mandaya, Bagobo and Central Mindanao), Kusyapi (Palawan). Similar instruments played throughout the region include the Sape of Sarawak and the Crocodile lutes of Mainland Southeast Asia. Although they share a similar name, the Kacapi of Sunda on Java is a zither, and not a lute.