Karatong: The Folk Dance Music of the Philippines

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Karatong is a traditional form of Filipino folk dance music that is characterized by its fast tempo and lively rhythms. It is often performed at festivals and other special occasions.

What is Karatong?

Karatong is a type of folk dance music from the Philippines. It is characterized by its fast tempo and use of clapping, body slaps, and percussion instruments. Karatong music is often played at weddings and other celebrations.

The History of Karatong

The folk dance music of the Philippines, Karatong is said to have originated in the 17th century. It is generally performed by a group of four or more people, often with two rows of dancers facing each other. The music is danced to, and sometimes sung as well, and it is accompanied by drums, gongs, and cymbals.

Karatong was originally a courtship dance, and it is said that the name comes from the Spanish word “carreta” meaning “cart.” In the Philippines, carts were used to transport goods from one town to another. The dance was said to imitate the movement of a cart being pulled by a team of oxen.

Over time, Karatong has become an important part of Philippine culture and it is now often performed at weddings, parties, and other celebrations.

The Different Types of Karatong

Karatong is a folk dance music genre from the Philippines. It is usually accompanied by upbeat, drum-heavy music and often features dancers in colorful costumes. There are many different types of karatong, each with its own unique flavor and style.

The most popular type of karatong is the tinikling, which originated in the central Philippines. Tinikling is characterized by its fast tempo and use of bamboo poles, which the dancers use to tap out rhythms as they move around. Other popular types of karatong include the maglalatik (a slow, sensual dance), the singkil (a faster-paced dance), and the palok (a more aggressive, martial-arts style dance).

Karatong is typically performed at festivals and celebrations, and is a great way to get everyone up and moving. If you’re ever in the Philippines during a festival or celebration, be sure to check out a karatong performance!

How to Dance Karatong

Karatong is a folk dance music found in the Philippines. It is often accompanied by gongs, drums, and other percussion instruments. The music is upbeat and lively, making it perfect for dancing.

If you want to try karatong dancing, there are a few things you should know. First, the music is usually in 4/4 time signature. This means that there are four beats in a measure, and each beat is equal to one quarter note. The tempo, or speed of the music, can vary depending on the region where it originated. In general, however, karatong is fast-paced and upbeat.

Next, you will need to know the basic steps of karatong dancing. Although there are many different variations of this dance, the basic steps are relatively simple. To start, stand with your feet together and your arms at your sides. As the music starts, begin hopping on your right foot while keeping your left foot stationary. After four measures, switch feet and hop on your left foot while keeping your right foot stationary. Continue alternating feet in this way for the duration of the dance.

As you become more comfortable with the basic steps, you can begin adding in different variations. For example, you can try crossing your arms in front of your chest as you hop, or you can raise your arms above your head and clap them together on each beat. You can also add in turns by pivoting on your heel as you hop from one foot to the other. Experiment with different variations to find what feels natural for you.

Karatong dancing is a great way to workout and have fun at the same time. So get up and start moving to the lively beat of karatong music today!

The Instruments Used in Karatong

Karatong is the folk dance music of the Philippines. It is usually performed with four instruments: two gongs, a drum, and a bamboo clapper. The gongs are played by striking them together, while the drum is played with sticks. The bamboo clapper is used to keep time.

The music of karatong is very lively and upbeat, making it perfect for dancing. It is often used in festive occasions such as weddings and festivals.

The Different Styles of Karatong

There are many different styles of karatong, each with its own unique flavor and history. The most common styles are the following:

1. Maguindanao – This style is characterized by its fast tempo and is often accompanied by gongs and drums. It originated in the Maguindanao province of Mindanao Island in the Philippines.

2. Maranao – This style is slower and more graceful, often compared to a waltz. It comes from the Maranao people of Lanao del Sur province in Mindanao Island.

3. Ibanag – This style is similar to the Maranao, but with a faster tempo. It is from the Ibanag people of Luzon Island in the Philippines.

4. Hiligaynon – This style is also fast-paced, but with a more relaxed feel than the Maguindanao. It is from the Hiligaynon people of Visayas Island in the Philippines.

The Popularity of Karatong

Karatong is a style of folk music and dance from the Philippines. It is popular among the Tagalog people, who are concentrated in central and southern Luzon. The music is often accompanied by dancers who use simple props such as umbrellas, scarves, and fans.

Karatong has been popularized by Filipino Americans in the United States, who have formed their own karatong groups. These groups often perform at Philippine cultural festivals and other events.

The Future of Karatong

The future of Karatong is uncertain. The music has been in decline for many years, and there are few young people who are interested in learning and playing it. The few remaining practitioners are aging, and when they die, it is likely that the music will die with them.

There are some efforts to preserve Karatong, however. In 2007, the Philippine government declared Karatong to be a “National Cultural Treasure.” The following year, a group of enthusiasts founded the Karatong Folk Dance Ensemble, which performs and teaches the music to new generations.

It is possible that Karatong will make a comeback in the Philippines. The music has a unique sound and contains elements of many different genres. It is an important part of Philippine culture and history, and it would be a shame to lose it entirely.

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