Conical Drums

The Conical Drums of the Cordillera People

Drums are found throughout the Philippine archipelago and come in all shapes and sizes—goblet, barrel, conical, and many more.  In the Cordillera mountain range of Northern Luzon, the most prevalent are conical drums—so-called because they have a small top and narrow down at the base.  They are carved from a single trunk of hard wood.  Animal skin, usually from a deer, is stretched over the top end of the drum and is tied down with rattan strips.  To keep the membrane taut, the drum is placed near a fire.

Conical drums in the Cordillera are always played as part of an ensemble of flat gongs (gangsa).  The drums are played with the player sitting down and the drum lying diagonally underneath his arms just enough for him to play the small head with both palms in a rhythmic pattern that distinguishes it from the other instruments.  ITwo drums are played in  the sulibao ensemble of the Ibaloi— the sulibao which is pitched lower than the kimbal.  These are joined by two gangsa also pitched differently and called kalsa and pinsak and a pair of clappers, palas.

Instrument Distribution

Northern Luzon

Ibaloi – “sulibao, ” “kimbal”

Ifugao – “libbit”


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