October 14, 2013

A Game of Gongs


Found out yesterday that the tradition of the kulintang gong orchestra had aspects of a dating game in some of Mindanao's tribal cultures.

Young women traditionally displayed their delicacy and grace through playing the xylophone-like kulintang, while young men would show off to them playing the bigger gongs and drums. The idea was to play a rhythm so complex the other would miss a beat. Those who missed the beat became the butt of much good-natured laughter and ribbing from both audience and the rest of the orchestra, goading them to up the ante with even faster and more complicated rhythms.

The tradition also appeared in some of the epics. In one epic, a princess secretly informed a kinswoman of hers that a certain hero would be coming to visit. The other princess prepared a kulintang performance that bowled over the visiting hero, making him fall for her and propose marriage at once!

So - there will definitely be Games of Gongs in Hari Ragat. They'll be part of the Courtship Tournament rules.

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