Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Joining hands to preserve the Kalutang for the record

In 2008, in consultation with Tirso Serdena, locally known as the Kalutang Playing Master and with Mayor Vicky Lao Lim of Gasan, I drafted a proposal to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) entitled "Preservation of the Art of Kalutang Playing". This involved the participation of Serdena and some members of his group in the training of elementary and high school students in the rudiments of this unique art.

Traditionally, kalutang has been associated with Semana Santa and the moriones of this town as the moriones themselves bang these pairs of wood to produce the familiar sound signifing their presence. Until Serdena, in 1970, developed as entertainment, a series of such identical pairs capable of producing melodies.

(Tirso Serdena, the Kalutang master training the kids)

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts approved the project, recognizing the need to preserve, protect and promote this musical tradition and to ensure that the art is handed down to the next generation, approved a grant of Php 100,000 with the Municipal Government of Gasan as proponent.

The project has been implemented since March 2009 up to the present in fifteen elementary schools and five secondary schools in Gasan town.

Dr. Mauricia D. Borromeo, Vice-Chair of NCCA Committee on Music during a recent monitoring visit commented thus:

"Conceptual. Two levels of preservation were given due concern. The first concern being the kalutang’s traditional role and function in the Moriones Parade/March around the town as the principal “auditory signal” of the approach and presence of Moriones in the streets. Should other “signal equipment” be used or introduced, the kalutang should remain as the principal medium. 


The second level refers to the “Art of Kalutang playing”. The instrument as presently crafted by the proponent is decidedly innovative and creative but it has set limits on the repertoire. Artistry in kalutang playing can be achieved through a systematic program of development in which pedagogy is crucial.

Pedagogical. A systematic graded program of teaching and learning needs to be designed to enable kalutang teachers to be effective and to facilitate the learning of students. The unique and necessary techniques of kalutang playing must be identified. 

In preparation for artistry, a thorough training in musicianship (elements of music, music reading and performance) is needed. Pedagogically and musically sound teaching materials should be developed to build a rich repertoire not limited to simple folk songs."


According to Roselo Salvacion (Teatro Balangaw) of Gasan who was tasked as project coordinator, the same batch of elementary and high school students who were trained initially for 12 days in March 2009, continued training with the goal of performing in August 2009 for the 400th Anniversary of Gasan. 

Music teacher, Norma Soldevilla of Marinduque Midwest College was also encouraged to get involved especially in terms of musicianship and repertoire. 

Borromeo recommended to avoid competition at present. Recitals or festivals featuring achievements of students would be more positive and non-threatening, she said. Incentives in the form of performing at special community occasions or selected “free” instruments, or cash incentives to buy instruments may be given.


Borromeo also pointed out that potential kalutang players/trainers should receive musicianship training as well, i.e. music reading, harmony, and arranging songs for kalutang. Mr. Serdeña should be sent to seminar related to music, learning notes, pitches, and teaching methods.

Aware of the possibilities of a pair of kalutang that is capable of more than four pitches in order to have a complete set of major and minor scales (and chords), thus expanding and enriching kalutang repertoire, Boromeo also recommended that Serdeña increase the present range of four pitches to six and to include halfsteps. 

Continued support to these efforts is seen, in more ways than one, as a true recognition of efforts, particularly those exerted by ordinary people, such as the original Serdena Kalutang group, in contributing to the community’s sense of culture, pride, and identity. 

The positive impact of the project to the municipality’s tourism promotional efforts is also quite evident.


The above article was first posted on June 8, 2010.


PRESERVATION OF THE ART OF KALUTANG PLAYING


KALUTANG are identical pairs of wood from the twatingan and bayog trees, endemic to Marinduque, which, when banged together produce notes of definite pitches and tonal quality. Kalutang, especially in the town of Gasan has been associated with the Moriones of yesteryears. The town’s moriones roamed the town streets banging their kalutang instruments to draw attention.



In 1970, however, TIRSO SERDENA, (now 65 years old), developed a series of such identical pairs of instruments capable of producing melodies familiar to the townsfolk. Organizing a group of some eight kalutang musicians who eventually mastered the art of kalutang playing they were instant hits, and became familiar performers during community programs and special events not only in Gasan but in the neighboring towns as well.

The Kalutang band, the only one of its kind in the world, has since become a local tourist attraction, consistently gracing the pages of local tourist brochures and have been featured in national television cultural or tourism features on the province of Marinduque. Rendering folk songs and some pop melodies, they have also performed for private groups outside the island-province and have participated in national events (i.e. Independence Day celebration at the Rizal Park 1997). 

Kalutang playing is one of Marinduque’s more unique cultural charms. The need to preserve, protect and promote this indigenous tradition and to ensure that this musical skill is handed down to the next generation has been widely accepted as a must-do, yet no serious and sustained efforts have been undertaken by the authorities concerned to realize these objectives.

To realize these objectives we initiated a project (this blogger prepared the project proposal in consultation with the Kalutang group), that involves the participation of the Kalutang master, elementary schools and high schools (public and private) in the municipality of Gasan, the municipal government of Gasan and the National Commission for Culture & the Arts (NCCA). 

Project title: "Preservation of the Art of Kalutang Playing", implemented through a grant from the NCCA.

Also read:



PANGKAT KALUTANG OF BANGBANG, GASAN (Posted 2009)


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