Agung

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This article is about the musical instrument. For ,see Agung (disambiguation).
Agung
Agung
Classification
Playing range
Related instruments

gong ageng, tetawak, goong ageung, mamabla, pong

The agung is a Philippine set of two, wide-rimmed, vertically-suspended gongs used by the Maguindanao, Maranao and Tausug as a supportive instrument in their kulintang ensemble. The agung is also ubiquitous among other groups found in Mindanao, Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan as an integral part of their agung orchestra.<ref name=Philip>Mercurio, Philip Dominguez (2006). Traditional Music of the Southern Philippines (html). PnoyAndTheCity: A center for Kulintang - A home for Pasikings. Retrieved on February 25, 2006.</ref>

Contents

Description

The agung. The left gong (the player's right) is the pangandungan, providing basic beats and the right gong (the player's left) is the panentekan which ornaments the pangandungan.

Frequently described as a large, heavy, punctuating, bossed, wide-rimmed gong in the shape of a kettle gong, each gong of the agung gives out the bass sound in the kulintang orchestra. Each of the gongs normally weighs between 11 and 15 pounds but it is possible to find agungs weigh as low as 5 pounds or as high as 20 or 30 pounds each, depending on the metal (whether bronze, brass or iron) used to produce them. Though their diameters are smaller than the gandingan’s at roughly 22 to 24 inches in length, they have a much deeper turned-in takilidan (rim) than the latter, with a width of twelve to thirteen inches including a tall, high busel/protusion/knob. <ref name=Hila>Hila, Antonio C (2006). Indigenous Music - Tuklas Sining: Essays on the Philippine Arts (html). Filipino Heritage.com. Tatak Pilipino. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Spark>Danongan Kalanduyan (html). Spark. KQED - Arts and Culture (2006). Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Aga>Butocan, Aga M. (2006). Gandingan/Babendil (html). Kulintang and the Maguindanaos. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Dria>Dria, Jose Arnaldo (2006). Maguindanao (html). Philippine Literature. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Garfias>Cadar, Usopay H., and Robert Garfias. "Some Principles of Formal Variation in the Kolintang Music of the Maranao." Asian Music Vol. 27, No. 2. (Spring - Summer, 1996), pp. 105-122.</ref><ref name=Otto>Otto, Steven W.. "Repertorial Nomenclature in Muranao Kolintang Music ." Asian Music Vol. 27, No. 2. (Spring - Summer, 1996), pp. 123-130.</ref><ref name=Scholz>Scholz, Scott. "The Supportive Instruments of the Maguindanaon Kulintang Music." Asian Music XXVII.2 (1996): 33-52.</ref><ref name=Danny>Kalanduyan, Danongan S. "Maguindanaon Kulintang Music: Instruments, Repertoire, Performance, Contexts, and Social Functions." Asian Music XXVII.2 (1996): 3-18.</ref><ref name=Benitez>Benitez, Kristina. The Maguindanaon Kulintang: Musical Innovation, Transformation and the Concept of Binalig. Ann Harbor, MI: University of Michigan, 2005.</ref><ref name=Cadar1>Cadar, Usopay Hamdag (1971). The Maranao Kolintang Music: An Analysis of the Instruments, Musical Organization, Ethmologies, and Historical Documents. Seattle, WA: University of Washington.</ref><ref name=Panis>Panis, Alleluia (2006). Magui Moro Master Artists in Residence (html). Kularts. Kulintang Arts Incorporated. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Jager>Jager, Fekke de (2006). Agung (html). Music instruments from the Philippines. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Hans1>Brandeis, Hans (2006). Photographs of Mindanao, Philippines (html). Gallery of Photographs from Mindanao, Philippines.. Filipino Association of Berlin. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Cruz>Cruz, Gray (2006). Musicians - Rondalla and Percussionists (html). Likha Pilipino Folk Ensemble. Likha Pilipino Folk Ensemble. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name= Yoshitaka>Terada, Yoshitaka. "Variational and Improvisational Techniques of Gandingan Playing in the Maguindanaon Kulintang Ensemble." Asian Music XXVII.2 (1996): 53-79. </ref>

A brass agung
They are hung vertically above the floor at a level either at or a little below the waist line, suspended by ropes fastened to a high structure like a strong tree limb, beam of a house, ceiling or a wooden or metal frame gong stand.<ref name=Scholz/><ref name=Danny/><ref name=Cadar1/><ref name=Aga/><ref name=Garfias/><ref name=Dria/>

The larger, lower pitched gong of the two is called the pangandungan by the Maguindanaoand the p’nanggisa-an/punangisa-an by the Maranao. Found on the right of the player, it provides the basic/main beat or part usually played predominantly on almost all the strong points of the rhythmic structure. The smaller, higher pitched gong, the one thicker of the two, is called the panentekan by the Maguindanao and the p’malsan/pumalsan by the Maranao. Found on the player’s left, it ornaments the part of the pangandungan playing on all the weak points (usually using double and triple beats) of the rhythmic structure.<ref name=Cadar2>Cadar, Usopay H.. "The Role of Kolintang Music in Maranao Society." Asian Music Vol. 27, No. 2. (Spring - Summer, 1996), pp. 80-103.</ref><ref name=Scholz/><ref name=Danny/><ref name=Cadar1/><ref name=Garfias/><ref name=Amin>Amin, Mohammad (2005). A Comparison of Music of the Philippines and Sulawesi (html). Sulawesi Studies. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref>

An agung player demonstrating the technique of playing both gongs with one beater with an assistant holding the lower-pitched gong for support.

Technique

The agung is usually performed while standing beside the instrument, holding the upper edge of the instrument’ flange between the thumb and rest of the fingers with the left hand while striking the boss/knob/busel using a mallet with the right hand. The mallets, called balu, are made from a short stick about half a foot in length and padded with soft but tough material such as rubber at one end. Using these balus, players would handle the agung similar to the way a brass tom-tom is played.<ref name=Hila/><ref name=Yoshitaka/><ref name=Aga/><ref name=Garfias/><ref name=Cadar1/><ref name=Dria/><ref name=Philip/>

A series of solid, fast decaying sounds are produced with the implementation of dampening techniques. The desired effect is produced after striking the busel, by leaving one’s hand or knee on the flange or the mallets themselves on the busel.<ref name=Garfias/><ref name=Jager/><ref name=Cadar1/> When one player is using two gongs, the assistant holding the lower-pitched gong would position it at an angle and dampen its surface using their hands.

An agung player demonstrating the new technique of katinengka with his beater.

Recently, new ways of handling the agung have emerged, including grasping a portion of the boss rather than the flange to achieve the dampening or using regular strokes upon the busel while striking the surrounding gong surface with the opposite, wooden end of the beater. The latter technique, called katinengka, is used by downriver musicians to produce metallic sounds during kulintang exhibitions.<ref name=Benitez/>

Different combinations of players, gongs and mallets could be used for playing the agung. The agung could be played by two players with each player assigned their own gong or just one player. When playing alone, the agung player could either play both gongs with the player holding the higher-pitched gongs face-to-face<ref name=Scholz/><ref name=Danny/> with the lower one held at an angle by an assistant for stability<ref name=Philip/> or just one gong. The latter style, common among those downriver Maguindanaos in Simuay, who consider this style an old one, uses only the higher-pitch gong for it, unlike the lower-pitched gong, is considered the lead gong, therefore having primary importance. An example of this is when single gong agungs are used during a tagunggo piece.<ref name=Benitez/>

The agung being played by two players with each player assigned their own gong.

The number of mallets used by the player could also vary as well. For most occasions, only one mallet is used but for other techniques, the player could use two mallets, one in each hand. An even more interesting technique uses only one balu but requires the player to play the agung in reverse order of pitches. Called patuy,<ref name=Danny/> this technique and the one with two mallets are normally reserved only for competition and exhibition instances.<ref name=Philip/>

Uses

Playing the agung as part of the kulintang ensemble

Kulintang ensemble

The main use for the agung in Maguindanao and Maranao society is as a supportive/accompanying instrument of an orthodox kulintang ensemble. Using basic patterns and interlocking rhythms, a player would use the agung to complement the melody played by the kulintang.<ref name=Scholz/><ref name=Garfias/><ref name=Zonia>Velasco, Zonia Elvas (1997). Kulintangan (html). Palabunibuniyan Gongs. Filipino Folk Arts Theatre. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref> The patterns players use are normally considered freer than either the babendil or the dabakan; players could manipulate the patterns freely as long as they conform, reaffirm,<ref name=Scholz/> reinforce and even generate the rhythmic mode of the piece.<ref name=Yoshitaka/> The length of the patterns themselves may vary depending on how they fit into the melodic improvisation.<ref name=Cadar2/> Rapid style is useful especially during exhibition of playing skills.<ref name=Benitez/>

Among both the Maguindanao and the Maranao, the agung embodies all that is masculine and thus the agung is traditionally considered a masculine instrument. To be considered a good player, one must posses strength, stamina (playing extremely fast tempos with no mistakes) and endurance(playing for long time without tiring) - all characteristics that requires a masculine dexterity not befitting for women. Players must also exhibit improvisation skills for different patterns to be considered as having quality musicianship - lest the audience considers the patterns played repetitions and mundane.<ref name=Scholz/><ref name=Cadar2/><ref name=Cadar1/><ref name=Yoshitaka/><ref name=Aga/><ref name=Danny/>

Because of the highly skilled nature required for playing the agung, it’s not uncommon to see agung players have friendly rivalries during a performance,<ref name=Garfias/> using tricks in an attempt to throw others offbeat.<ref name=Scholz/> For instance, if the p’nanggisa’s elaborations are so elusive that the p’mals has a hard time ornamenting or if the reversed happens and the p’mals ornaments to the point the p’nanggisa’s performance is engulfed, the player that can’t keep up is usually embarrassed,<ref name=Cadar2/> becoming the brunt of jokes.<ref name=Scholz/> Normally, agung players would switch off after each piece but during instances like this, where one player cannot handle the part being played, players would either remain at their same gongs or would switch during the performance. It’s also possible for agung players to switch places with the dabakan after two pieces. Even though the players compete, they still understand they are a single entity, closely accompanying the melody,<ref name=Cadar2/> employ different variations without destroying the music’s basic patterns.<ref name=Garfias/>

An exhibition of the agung by a Magui Moro Master Artist

Interactions with the opposite sex

There was also a secondary motive for men, especially young males for learning the agung: the ability to interact with young, unmarried women. Both Maranao and Maguindanao cultures traditionally adhere to Islamic customs which prohibit dating or causal conversation between the opposite sexes (unless married to or related to by blood)<ref name=Yoshitaka/> and therefore performances such as kulintang music provided the opportunity for such a connection.<ref name=Philip/> Among the Maguindanao, the rhythmic modes of duyog and sinulog a kamamatuan allowed agung players to serenade the young, unmarried women on the kulintang.<ref name=Scholz/> Tidto, the other rhythmic mode, could also be used but players rarely use this for serenading since the kulintang player is usually an older woman.<ref name=Yoshitaka/>

Contest

An agung begin played during a contest by a Magui Moro Master Artist using two balus.

The latter mode actually is reserved specifically for solo agung contest. Unlike other Southern Filipino groups who participate in group contest, the Maguindanao are unique in that they also hold solo agung contest<ref name=Philip/> to find out who in the community is the best papagagung (expert agung player).<ref name=Danny/> Tidto is prefect for such contest since the agung is often the focus of attention, the focal point during the ensemble during this mode.<ref name=Scholz/> Players normally perform two or more versions<ref name=Yoshitaka/> playing the three types of techniques discussed above.<ref name=Philip/>

Signaling and the supernatural

Other than its use in the kulintang ensemble, the agung also had other non-ensemble uses among the Maguindanao and Maranao. The agung has been used to warn others of impending danger, announcing the time of day and other important occasions. For instance, long ago the sultan would beat the agung repeatedly to announce the onset of a meeting or during the fasting month of Ramadhan, the agung would ring either at three in the morning to indicate the signal to eat (sawl) or at sunset, to mark the end for fasting that day. And supposedly due to the deep, loud sound the agung produces, people believed that it possessed supernatural powers. For instance, during an earthquake, locals Maguindanao would strike the agung in a fast, loud rhythm called baru-baru, believing its vibrations would either lessen or even halt the jolt of an earthquake.<ref name=Aga/><ref name=Philip/><ref name=Dria/>

Origins

Scholars seem in agreement that the origins of the agung came from Indonesia, noting that the word agung/agong derived from the Malay word agong and Indonesian word ageng.<ref name=Cadar1/> Further evidence of this comes from a British explorer, Thomas Forrest, who wrote Filipinos were “fond of musical gongs which came from Cheribon on Java and have round knobs on them.”<ref name=Forrest>Forrest, Thomas. A Voyage to New Guinea and the Moluccas: 1774-1776. Kuala Lumper: Oxford University Press, 1969</ref>

Similar agung instruments

In kulintang ensembles

In the Sulu Archipelago, the kulintang orchestra use not two but three low-sounding agungs serving as an accompaniment or drone in ensembles for the Tausug, Samal and the Yakan. For the Tausug and Samal, the largest of the agungs with a wide turned-in rim is called the tunggalan/tamak respectively, which provides slow, regular beats akin to the function of the Maguindanaon pangandungan and Maranao p’nanggisa-an. Syncopations with the tunggalan/tamak is provided by the smaller pair of agungs, the duahan, which are separated into a wider-rimmed duahan, called a pulakan and a narrower one called a huhugan/buahan by the Tausug and a bua by the Samal.<ref name=Yoshitaka/><ref name=Maceda1>Maceda, Jose. "A Concept of Time in a Music of Southeast Asia." Ethnomusicology Vol. 30. No. 1. (Winter 1986), pp. 11-53.</ref><ref name=Maceda2>Maceda, Jose. Gongs and Bamboo: A Panorama of Philippine Music Instruments. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1998.</ref>

An agung ensemble of the Tiruray called karatung being demonstrated at San Francisco State University

In agung ensembles

Agungs also play a major role in agung orchestras - ensembles composed of large hanging, suspended or held,<ref name=Philip/> bossed/knobbed gongs which act as drone without any accompanying melodic instrument like a kulintang.<ref name=Maceda1/><ref name=Criselda>de Leon, Ma. Criselda (2006). Tiruray (html). Philippine Literature. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref> Such orchestras are prevalent among Mindanao Lumad groups (the Atta, Bagobo,<ref name=Baes>Baes, Jones (2006). Asiatic Musical Traditions in the Philippines (html). Articles on Culture and Arts. National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref> Bilaan,<ref name=Sanchez>Sanchez, Kristine (2006). Bilaan (html). Philippine Literature. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref> Bukidon, Hanunoo,<ref name=Hila/><ref name=Servano>Servano, Miniña R (2006). Mangyan (html). Philippine Literature. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref> Magsaka, Manabo, Mangyan,<ref name=Hila/> Palawan, Subanun, T’boli, Tagakaolu, Tagbanua<ref name=Hila/> and the Tiruray)<ref name=Maceda1/> and regions in Kalimantan in Indonesia (Iban, Modang, Murut) and Sabah and Sarawark in Malaysia (Bidayuh, Iban, Kadazan-Dusan, Kajan, Kayan), places where agung orchestras take precedence over kulintang-like orchestras. The composition and tuning of these orchestras vary widely from one group to another.<ref name=Maceda1/><ref name=Matusky>Matusky, Patricia. "An Introduction to the Major Instruments and Forms of Traditional Malay Music." Asian Music Vol 16. No. 2. (Spring-Summer 1985), pp. 121-182. </ref> For instance, the Hanunnoo of Mindoro have a small agung ensemble consisting of only two light gongs played by two players on the floor playing a simple duple rhythm<ref name=Hila/><ref name=Servano/> while the Manobo have an ensemble consisting of 10 small agungs called an ahong, hung vertically on a frame in triangular formation played by three players: one standing playing the melody with the rest sitting. The ahong is divided by purpose: with the higher-pitched gongs that carry the melody the called the kaantuhan, three to four lower-pitched gongs melodic costinato called the gandingan and the lowest-pitched gong that sets the tempo called the bandil.<ref name=Lydia>de Leon, Lydia Mary (2006). Manobo (html). Philippine Literature. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref>

An antique bronze karatung set

The Tiruray called their agung ensemble a kelo-agung/kalatong/karatung ensemble made up of five shallow bossed gongs of graduated size, each played by one person with the smallest gong, segaron, used as the lead instrument providing a steady beat.<ref name=Philip/><ref name=Criselda/> The Manobo sagabong ensemble follows that same format, consisting of five small gongs, each one individually held by a player playing a particular interlocking pattern using rubber mallets.<ref name=Lydia/> The T’boli and Palawan have a similar agung ensembles with the T’boli ensemble composed of three to four agungs with two to three of them collectively called semagi, providing permutations and the other agung, tang, providing a steady beat while the Palawan calling their bossed gong ensemble a basal, composed of four gongs: one to two large humped, low-sounding agungs and a pair of smaller humped, higher-pitched sanangs which produce a “metallic” sound.<ref name=Juan>Francisco, Juan R.. "Une epopee palawan chantee par Usuj." Asian Folklore Studies Vol. 44. No. 1. (1985), pp. 132-134. </ref><ref name=Hans2>Brandeis, Hans. "Utom: Summoning the Spirit: Music in the T'boli Heartland." Yearbook for Traditional Music 30(1998): 203.</ref><ref name=Maceda1/><ref name=Englis>Englis, Francisco. "Philippines: Musique des hautes -terres Palawan (Palawan Highland Music)." Asian Music Vol. 25. No. ½. (1993-1994), pp. 312-314. </ref> The Subanon also have an agung ensemble simliar to the Tiruray karatung. They call it gagung sua.<ref name=Benitez/>

Both the Bagabo and the B’laan refer to their agung ensemble as tagunggo, a set of eight metal gongs hung/suspended on a harness, played by two, three or more people. Seven of the smaller-sized gongs produce a running melody with the eighth, largest gong playing syncopations to the rest gongs to produce a particular rhythm.<ref name=Baes/><ref name=Sanchez/> The Manabo also have an agung ensemble similar to the tagunggo. They call it a tagungguan.<ref name=Lydia/>

On the western coast of Sabah, the Kadazan-Dusan refer to their agung ensemble as tawag or bandil, consisting of 6 to 7 large gongs for groups along the shore and 7 to 8 large gongs for those residing in the interior valleys. In southwestern Sarawak, agung ensembles of the Bidayuh consist of nine large gongs divided into four groups (taway, puum, bandil and sanang), while among the Ibans of Sawarak, Brunei, Kalimantan, their agung ensembles are smaller in number in comparison.

Such ensembles can either be played alone by themselves or with one or two drums as accompaniment using either one’s hands or wooden sticks playing either homophonically on in an interlocking technique with the gongs. These agung orchestras could usually be found accompanying all types of social events, including agriculture rituals, weddings, community gatherings, victory celebrations, curing rites, rituals for the dead and entertainment of visitors.<ref name=Matusky/><ref name=Lydia/><ref name=Criselda/><ref name=Maceda1/>

References

<references/>

External links


Traditional instruments of the Southern Philippines
Maguindanao Kulintang Ensemble
Kulintang - Agung - Gandingan - Babendil - Dabakan
Other non-ensemble instruments
Kulintang a Kayo - Gandingan a Kayo - Kulintang a Tiniok - Kubing - Luntang - Agung a TamlangKagul PalendagTumpongSuling - Kutiyapi
This article is about the musical instrument. For ,see Agung (disambiguation).
Agung
Agung
Classification
Playing range
Related instruments

gong ageng, tetawak, goong ageung, mamabla, pong

The agung is a Philippine set of two, wide-rimmed, vertically-suspended gongs used by the Maguindanao, Maranao and Tausug as a supportive instrument in their kulintang ensemble. The agung is also ubiquitous among other groups found in Mindanao, Sabah, Sarawak and Kalimantan as an integral part of their agung orchestra.<ref name=Philip>Mercurio, Philip Dominguez (2006). Traditional Music of the Southern Philippines (html). PnoyAndTheCity: A center for Kulintang - A home for Pasikings. Retrieved on February 25, 2006.</ref>

Description

The agung. The left gong (the player's right) is the pangandungan, providing basic beats and the right gong (the player's left) is the panentekan which ornaments the pangandungan.

Frequently described as a large, heavy, punctuating, bossed, wide-rimmed gong in the shape of a kettle gong, each gong of the agung gives out the bass sound in the kulintang orchestra. Each of the gongs normally weighs between 11 and 15 pounds but it is possible to find agungs weigh as low as 5 pounds or as high as 20 or 30 pounds each, depending on the metal (whether bronze, brass or iron) used to produce them. Though their diameters are smaller than the gandingan’s at roughly 22 to 24 inches in length, they have a much deeper turned-in takilidan (rim) than the latter, with a width of twelve to thirteen inches including a tall, high busel/protusion/knob. <ref name=Hila>Hila, Antonio C (2006). Indigenous Music - Tuklas Sining: Essays on the Philippine Arts (html). Filipino Heritage.com. Tatak Pilipino. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Spark>Danongan Kalanduyan (html). Spark. KQED - Arts and Culture (2006). Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Aga>Butocan, Aga M. (2006). Gandingan/Babendil (html). Kulintang and the Maguindanaos. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Dria>Dria, Jose Arnaldo (2006). Maguindanao (html). Philippine Literature. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Garfias>Cadar, Usopay H., and Robert Garfias. "Some Principles of Formal Variation in the Kolintang Music of the Maranao." Asian Music Vol. 27, No. 2. (Spring - Summer, 1996), pp. 105-122.</ref><ref name=Otto>Otto, Steven W.. "Repertorial Nomenclature in Muranao Kolintang Music ." Asian Music Vol. 27, No. 2. (Spring - Summer, 1996), pp. 123-130.</ref><ref name=Scholz>Scholz, Scott. "The Supportive Instruments of the Maguindanaon Kulintang Music." Asian Music XXVII.2 (1996): 33-52.</ref><ref name=Danny>Kalanduyan, Danongan S. "Maguindanaon Kulintang Music: Instruments, Repertoire, Performance, Contexts, and Social Functions." Asian Music XXVII.2 (1996): 3-18.</ref><ref name=Benitez>Benitez, Kristina. The Maguindanaon Kulintang: Musical Innovation, Transformation and the Concept of Binalig. Ann Harbor, MI: University of Michigan, 2005.</ref><ref name=Cadar1>Cadar, Usopay Hamdag (1971). The Maranao Kolintang Music: An Analysis of the Instruments, Musical Organization, Ethmologies, and Historical Documents. Seattle, WA: University of Washington.</ref><ref name=Panis>Panis, Alleluia (2006). Magui Moro Master Artists in Residence (html). Kularts. Kulintang Arts Incorporated. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Jager>Jager, Fekke de (2006). Agung (html). Music instruments from the Philippines. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Hans1>Brandeis, Hans (2006). Photographs of Mindanao, Philippines (html). Gallery of Photographs from Mindanao, Philippines.. Filipino Association of Berlin. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name=Cruz>Cruz, Gray (2006). Musicians - Rondalla and Percussionists (html). Likha Pilipino Folk Ensemble. Likha Pilipino Folk Ensemble. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref><ref name= Yoshitaka>Terada, Yoshitaka. "Variational and Improvisational Techniques of Gandingan Playing in the Maguindanaon Kulintang Ensemble." Asian Music XXVII.2 (1996): 53-79. </ref>

A brass agung
They are hung vertically above the floor at a level either at or a little below the waist line, suspended by ropes fastened to a high structure like a strong tree limb, beam of a house, ceiling or a wooden or metal frame gong stand.<ref name=Scholz/><ref name=Danny/><ref name=Cadar1/><ref name=Aga/><ref name=Garfias/><ref name=Dria/>

The larger, lower pitched gong of the two is called the pangandungan by the Maguindanaoand the p’nanggisa-an/punangisa-an by the Maranao. Found on the right of the player, it provides the basic/main beat or part usually played predominantly on almost all the strong points of the rhythmic structure. The smaller, higher pitched gong, the one thicker of the two, is called the panentekan by the Maguindanao and the p’malsan/pumalsan by the Maranao. Found on the player’s left, it ornaments the part of the pangandungan playing on all the weak points (usually using double and triple beats) of the rhythmic structure.<ref name=Cadar2>Cadar, Usopay H.. "The Role of Kolintang Music in Maranao Society." Asian Music Vol. 27, No. 2. (Spring - Summer, 1996), pp. 80-103.</ref><ref name=Scholz/><ref name=Danny/><ref name=Cadar1/><ref name=Garfias/><ref name=Amin>Amin, Mohammad (2005). A Comparison of Music of the Philippines and Sulawesi (html). Sulawesi Studies. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref>

An agung player demonstrating the technique of playing both gongs with one beater with an assistant holding the lower-pitched gong for support.

Technique

The agung is usually performed while standing beside the instrument, holding the upper edge of the instrument’ flange between the thumb and rest of the fingers with the left hand while striking the boss/knob/busel using a mallet with the right hand. The mallets, called balu, are made from a short stick about half a foot in length and padded with soft but tough material such as rubber at one end. Using these balus, players would handle the agung similar to the way a brass tom-tom is played.<ref name=Hila/><ref name=Yoshitaka/><ref name=Aga/><ref name=Garfias/><ref name=Cadar1/><ref name=Dria/><ref name=Philip/>

A series of solid, fast decaying sounds are produced with the implementation of dampening techniques. The desired effect is produced after striking the busel, by leaving one’s hand or knee on the flange or the mallets themselves on the busel.<ref name=Garfias/><ref name=Jager/><ref name=Cadar1/> When one player is using two gongs, the assistant holding the lower-pitched gong would position it at an angle and dampen its surface using their hands.

An agung player demonstrating the new technique of katinengka with his beater.

Recently, new ways of handling the agung have emerged, including grasping a portion of the boss rather than the flange to achieve the dampening or using regular strokes upon the busel while striking the surrounding gong surface with the opposite, wooden end of the beater. The latter technique, called katinengka, is used by downriver musicians to produce metallic sounds during kulintang exhibitions.<ref name=Benitez/>

Different combinations of players, gongs and mallets could be used for playing the agung. The agung could be played by two players with each player assigned their own gong or just one player. When playing alone, the agung player could either play both gongs with the player holding the higher-pitched gongs face-to-face<ref name=Scholz/><ref name=Danny/> with the lower one held at an angle by an assistant for stability<ref name=Philip/> or just one gong. The latter style, common among those downriver Maguindanaos in Simuay, who consider this style an old one, uses only the higher-pitch gong for it, unlike the lower-pitched gong, is considered the lead gong, therefore having primary importance. An example of this is when single gong agungs are used during a tagunggo piece.<ref name=Benitez/>

The agung being played by two players with each player assigned their own gong.

The number of mallets used by the player could also vary as well. For most occasions, only one mallet is used but for other techniques, the player could use two mallets, one in each hand. An even more interesting technique uses only one balu but requires the player to play the agung in reverse order of pitches. Called patuy,<ref name=Danny/> this technique and the one with two mallets are normally reserved only for competition and exhibition instances.<ref name=Philip/>

Uses

Playing the agung as part of the kulintang ensemble

Kulintang ensemble

The main use for the agung in Maguindanao and Maranao society is as a supportive/accompanying instrument of an orthodox kulintang ensemble. Using basic patterns and interlocking rhythms, a player would use the agung to complement the melody played by the kulintang.<ref name=Scholz/><ref name=Garfias/><ref name=Zonia>Velasco, Zonia Elvas (1997). Kulintangan (html). Palabunibuniyan Gongs. Filipino Folk Arts Theatre. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref> The patterns players use are normally considered freer than either the babendil or the dabakan; players could manipulate the patterns freely as long as they conform, reaffirm,<ref name=Scholz/> reinforce and even generate the rhythmic mode of the piece.<ref name=Yoshitaka/> The length of the patterns themselves may vary depending on how they fit into the melodic improvisation.<ref name=Cadar2/> Rapid style is useful especially during exhibition of playing skills.<ref name=Benitez/>

Among both the Maguindanao and the Maranao, the agung embodies all that is masculine and thus the agung is traditionally considered a masculine instrument. To be considered a good player, one must posses strength, stamina (playing extremely fast tempos with no mistakes) and endurance(playing for long time without tiring) - all characteristics that requires a masculine dexterity not befitting for women. Players must also exhibit improvisation skills for different patterns to be considered as having quality musicianship - lest the audience considers the patterns played repetitions and mundane.<ref name=Scholz/><ref name=Cadar2/><ref name=Cadar1/><ref name=Yoshitaka/><ref name=Aga/><ref name=Danny/>

Because of the highly skilled nature required for playing the agung, it’s not uncommon to see agung players have friendly rivalries during a performance,<ref name=Garfias/> using tricks in an attempt to throw others offbeat.<ref name=Scholz/> For instance, if the p’nanggisa’s elaborations are so elusive that the p’mals has a hard time ornamenting or if the reversed happens and the p’mals ornaments to the point the p’nanggisa’s performance is engulfed, the player that can’t keep up is usually embarrassed,<ref name=Cadar2/> becoming the brunt of jokes.<ref name=Scholz/> Normally, agung players would switch off after each piece but during instances like this, where one player cannot handle the part being played, players would either remain at their same gongs or would switch during the performance. It’s also possible for agung players to switch places with the dabakan after two pieces. Even though the players compete, they still understand they are a single entity, closely accompanying the melody,<ref name=Cadar2/> employ different variations without destroying the music’s basic patterns.<ref name=Garfias/>

An exhibition of the agung by a Magui Moro Master Artist

Interactions with the opposite sex

There was also a secondary motive for men, especially young males for learning the agung: the ability to interact with young, unmarried women. Both Maranao and Maguindanao cultures traditionally adhere to Islamic customs which prohibit dating or causal conversation between the opposite sexes (unless married to or related to by blood)<ref name=Yoshitaka/> and therefore performances such as kulintang music provided the opportunity for such a connection.<ref name=Philip/> Among the Maguindanao, the rhythmic modes of duyog and sinulog a kamamatuan allowed agung players to serenade the young, unmarried women on the kulintang.<ref name=Scholz/> Tidto, the other rhythmic mode, could also be used but players rarely use this for serenading since the kulintang player is usually an older woman.<ref name=Yoshitaka/>

Contest

An agung begin played during a contest by a Magui Moro Master Artist using two balus.

The latter mode actually is reserved specifically for solo agung contest. Unlike other Southern Filipino groups who participate in group contest, the Maguindanao are unique in that they also hold solo agung contest<ref name=Philip/> to find out who in the community is the best papagagung (expert agung player).<ref name=Danny/> Tidto is prefect for such contest since the agung is often the focus of attention, the focal point during the ensemble during this mode.<ref name=Scholz/> Players normally perform two or more versions<ref name=Yoshitaka/> playing the three types of techniques discussed above.<ref name=Philip/>

Signaling and the supernatural

Other than its use in the kulintang ensemble, the agung also had other non-ensemble uses among the Maguindanao and Maranao. The agung has been used to warn others of impending danger, announcing the time of day and other important occasions. For instance, long ago the sultan would beat the agung repeatedly to announce the onset of a meeting or during the fasting month of Ramadhan, the agung would ring either at three in the morning to indicate the signal to eat (sawl) or at sunset, to mark the end for fasting that day. And supposedly due to the deep, loud sound the agung produces, people believed that it possessed supernatural powers. For instance, during an earthquake, locals Maguindanao would strike the agung in a fast, loud rhythm called baru-baru, believing its vibrations would either lessen or even halt the jolt of an earthquake.<ref name=Aga/><ref name=Philip/><ref name=Dria/>

Origins

Scholars seem in agreement that the origins of the agung came from Indonesia, noting that the word agung/agong derived from the Malay word agong and Indonesian word ageng.<ref name=Cadar1/> Further evidence of this comes from a British explorer, Thomas Forrest, who wrote Filipinos were “fond of musical gongs which came from Cheribon on Java and have round knobs on them.”<ref name=Forrest>Forrest, Thomas. A Voyage to New Guinea and the Moluccas: 1774-1776. Kuala Lumper: Oxford University Press, 1969</ref>

Similar agung instruments

In kulintang ensembles

In the Sulu Archipelago, the kulintang orchestra use not two but three low-sounding agungs serving as an accompaniment or drone in ensembles for the Tausug, Samal and the Yakan. For the Tausug and Samal, the largest of the agungs with a wide turned-in rim is called the tunggalan/tamak respectively, which provides slow, regular beats akin to the function of the Maguindanaon pangandungan and Maranao p’nanggisa-an. Syncopations with the tunggalan/tamak is provided by the smaller pair of agungs, the duahan, which are separated into a wider-rimmed duahan, called a pulakan and a narrower one called a huhugan/buahan by the Tausug and a bua by the Samal.<ref name=Yoshitaka/><ref name=Maceda1>Maceda, Jose. "A Concept of Time in a Music of Southeast Asia." Ethnomusicology Vol. 30. No. 1. (Winter 1986), pp. 11-53.</ref><ref name=Maceda2>Maceda, Jose. Gongs and Bamboo: A Panorama of Philippine Music Instruments. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1998.</ref>

An agung ensemble of the Tiruray called karatung being demonstrated at San Francisco State University

In agung ensembles

Agungs also play a major role in agung orchestras - ensembles composed of large hanging, suspended or held,<ref name=Philip/> bossed/knobbed gongs which act as drone without any accompanying melodic instrument like a kulintang.<ref name=Maceda1/><ref name=Criselda>de Leon, Ma. Criselda (2006). Tiruray (html). Philippine Literature. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref> Such orchestras are prevalent among Mindanao Lumad groups (the Atta, Bagobo,<ref name=Baes>Baes, Jones (2006). Asiatic Musical Traditions in the Philippines (html). Articles on Culture and Arts. National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref> Bilaan,<ref name=Sanchez>Sanchez, Kristine (2006). Bilaan (html). Philippine Literature. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref> Bukidon, Hanunoo,<ref name=Hila/><ref name=Servano>Servano, Miniña R (2006). Mangyan (html). Philippine Literature. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref> Magsaka, Manabo, Mangyan,<ref name=Hila/> Palawan, Subanun, T’boli, Tagakaolu, Tagbanua<ref name=Hila/> and the Tiruray)<ref name=Maceda1/> and regions in Kalimantan in Indonesia (Iban, Modang, Murut) and Sabah and Sarawark in Malaysia (Bidayuh, Iban, Kadazan-Dusan, Kajan, Kayan), places where agung orchestras take precedence over kulintang-like orchestras. The composition and tuning of these orchestras vary widely from one group to another.<ref name=Maceda1/><ref name=Matusky>Matusky, Patricia. "An Introduction to the Major Instruments and Forms of Traditional Malay Music." Asian Music Vol 16. No. 2. (Spring-Summer 1985), pp. 121-182. </ref> For instance, the Hanunnoo of Mindoro have a small agung ensemble consisting of only two light gongs played by two players on the floor playing a simple duple rhythm<ref name=Hila/><ref name=Servano/> while the Manobo have an ensemble consisting of 10 small agungs called an ahong, hung vertically on a frame in triangular formation played by three players: one standing playing the melody with the rest sitting. The ahong is divided by purpose: with the higher-pitched gongs that carry the melody the called the kaantuhan, three to four lower-pitched gongs melodic costinato called the gandingan and the lowest-pitched gong that sets the tempo called the bandil.<ref name=Lydia>de Leon, Lydia Mary (2006). Manobo (html). Philippine Literature. Retrieved on November 15, 2006.</ref>

An antique bronze karatung set

The Tiruray called their agung ensemble a kelo-agung/kalatong/karatung ensemble made up of five shallow bossed gongs of graduated size, each played by one person with the smallest gong, segaron, used as the lead instrument providing a steady beat.<ref name=Philip/><ref name=Criselda/> The Manobo sagabong ensemble follows that same format, consisting of five small gongs, each one individually held by a player playing a particular interlocking pattern using rubber mallets.<ref name=Lydia/> The T’boli and Palawan have a similar agung ensembles with the T’boli ensemble composed of three to four agungs with two to three of them collectively called semagi, providing permutations and the other agung, tang, providing a steady beat while the Palawan calling their bossed gong ensemble a basal, composed of four gongs: one to two large humped, low-sounding agungs and a pair of smaller humped, higher-pitched sanangs which produce a “metallic” sound.<ref name=Juan>Francisco, Juan R.. "Une epopee palawan chantee par Usuj." Asian Folklore Studies Vol. 44. No. 1. (1985), pp. 132-134. </ref><ref name=Hans2>Brandeis, Hans. "Utom: Summoning the Spirit: Music in the T'boli Heartland." Yearbook for Traditional Music 30(1998): 203.</ref><ref name=Maceda1/><ref name=Englis>Englis, Francisco. "Philippines: Musique des hautes -terres Palawan (Palawan Highland Music)." Asian Music Vol. 25. No. ½. (1993-1994), pp. 312-314. </ref> The Subanon also have an agung ensemble simliar to the Tiruray karatung. They call it gagung sua.<ref name=Benitez/>

Both the Bagabo and the B’laan refer to their agung ensemble as tagunggo, a set of eight metal gongs hung/suspended on a harness, played by two, three or more people. Seven of the smaller-sized gongs produce a running melody with the eighth, largest gong playing syncopations to the rest gongs to produce a particular rhythm.<ref name=Baes/><ref name=Sanchez/> The Manabo also have an agung ensemble similar to the tagunggo. They call it a tagungguan.<ref name=Lydia/>

On the western coast of Sabah, the Kadazan-Dusan refer to their agung ensemble as tawag or bandil, consisting of 6 to 7 large gongs for groups along the shore and 7 to 8 large gongs for those residing in the interior valleys. In southwestern Sarawak, agung ensembles of the Bidayuh consist of nine large gongs divided into four groups (taway, puum, bandil and sanang), while among the Ibans of Sawarak, Brunei, Kalimantan, their agung ensembles are smaller in number in comparison.

Such ensembles can either be played alone by themselves or with one or two drums as accompaniment using either one’s hands or wooden sticks playing either homophonically on in an interlocking technique with the gongs. These agung orchestras could usually be found accompanying all types of social events, including agriculture rituals, weddings, community gatherings, victory celebrations, curing rites, rituals for the dead and entertainment of visitors.<ref name=Matusky/><ref name=Lydia/><ref name=Criselda/><ref name=Maceda1/>

References

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