Polychordal Zithers

T'boli "sludoy"

Zithers are string instruments where the strings run the length of the body.  They are found all over the Philippines, mainly among highland groups.  The strings could be as few of five to as much as seven or eight; hence the term “polychordal.”

The instrument is made from one bamboo node.  The skin of the bamboo is cut but remains attached to both ends of the bamboo.  Movable frets are placed underneath to provide tension.  The entire length of the tube is cracked to allow the sound to resonate.  They are played upright with the musician’s fingers plucking the strings. Two strings are usually placed on the front of the instrument which is played by he thumbs while the rest are at the back played by the rest of the fingers.  In the southern Philippines, they are often accompanied by boat lutes.

Instrument Distribution

Northern Luzon

Bontok – “kolitong, kollitong, kullitong”

Ilongot – “kollesing, kulisin”

Kalinga – “kolitong, kollitong, kullitong”


Palawan – “pagang”


Bagobo – “taw-go, tugo, padang”

B’laan – “sluray, sluday, sloroy”

Maguindanaon – “tangkel”

Manobo – “tangkew, takul”

Mansaka – “takul”

T’boli – “sludoy, s’ludoi”

Tiruray – “tangkel, togo”

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