Philippine Folk Music Examples to Get You Started

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Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Philippine folk music is some of the most beautiful and unique in the world. In this blog post, we’ll share some of our favorite examples to get you started.


Philippine folk music is some of the most interesting and unique in the world. It’s a mix of indigenous, Spanish, and American influences that have resulted in a truly original musical tradition. If you’re interested in exploring this fascinating genre, here are a few Philippine folk music examples to get you started.

Rondalla is a type of traditional Philippine folk music that is performed with a band of string instruments. The best-known rondalla ensemble is probably the maria clara orchestra, which includes the banduria (a smaller version of the guitar), octavina (a type of mandolin), laud (a type of lute), bajo de arco (a kind of upright bass), and castanets. Rondalla bands often perform at festivals and other public events.

Kundiman is another popular type of Philippine folk music. It is usually performed as a duet between a man and a woman, and it traditionally tells a story of unrequited love. Kundiman songs are usually fairly slow and melodic, and they often make use of minor keys to create a feeling of sadness or longing.

Bicolano music is from the Bicol region in southeastern Luzon. It is characterized by its use of gongs, which are played to keep time while the rest of the band accompanies with bamboo flutes, drums, and other percussion instruments. Bicolano music often has a festive quality to it, as it is often performed at cultural events such as fiestas.

If you’re interested in exploring the world of Philippine folk music, these are just a few examples to get you started. With its mix of influences and its unique sound, Philippine folk music is sure to captivate any listener who takes the time to explore it.

What is Philippine Folk Music?

Philippine Folk Music is music that has been handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. It is not written down, but it is passed on through performance. Folk music is the music of the people, and it reflects the life, experience and beliefs of the people who create it. Folk music is usually created by composers who are not professional musicians, and it is often performed by amateur musicians.

Philippine Folk Music includes a wide variety of music from different regions of the Philippines. It includes music for work, for play, for love and for religion. The geographic regions of the Philippines each have their own unique musical traditions.

Origins of Philippine Folk Music

Philippine folk music has its roots in the indigenous music of the country’s various ethnic groups. The music is often passed down from generation to generation, and has been adapted over time to suit the changing needs of the people.

Philippine folk music is characterized by its use of natural sounds and simple instruments, as well as its focus on storytelling. The music is often used for ceremonial purposes, such as weddings and funerals, or for recreation, such as during festivals and other celebrations.

Common instruments used in Philippine folk music include the kulintang (a set of small brass gongs), gongs, drums, flutes, and guitars. The music is often accompanied by singing and dancing.

Types of Philippine Folk Music

Philippine folk music is incredibly diverse, with over a hundred different ethnic groups scattered across the country. Each group has its own unique musical traditions, instruments, and songs.

Here are some of the most popular types of Philippine folk music:

1. Baguio Folk Music – Baguio is a city in the northern Philippines that is known for its cool climate and beautiful scenery. The folk music of Baguio reflects the city’s diverse population, with influences from the Igorot, Kalinga, and Ifugao people. Baguio folk music is often upbeat and festive, perfect for dancing.

2. Visayan Folk Music – The Visayas is a large island group in the central Philippines that includes the popular tourist destinations of Cebu and Bohol. The folk music of the Visayas is particularly beautiful, with a strong focus on vocal harmony. Many traditional Visayan songs are about love and loss, perfect for a romantic evening.

3. Mindoro Folk Music – Mindoro is a large island in the western Philippines that is home to the indigenous Mangyan people. Mindoro folk music has a strong African influence, reflected in the use of drums and other percussion instruments. The lyrics of Mindoro folk songs often tells stories about everyday life and the Mangyan people’s rich culture and history.

4. Tagalog Folk Music – Tagalog is the largest ethno-linguistic group in the Philippines, making up around 28% of the country’s population. Tagalog folk music is some of the most well-known in the Philippines, thanks to its rich cultural heritage and catchy melodies. Many traditional Tagalog songs are about love, nature, and religion, making them perfect for both singing and dancing along to.

Characteristics of Philippine Folk Music

Philippine folk music is characterized by its diversity, which is reflective of the country’s rich history and cultural heritage. There are many different types of folk music, each with its own distinct style and sound.

Some of the most popular genres of Philippine folk music include kundiman, kumintang, dalit, kantang, ilawod, and sagayan. Each of these genres has its own unique characteristics that make it distinct from other types of folk music.

Kundiman is a type of Philippine folk music that is known for its heartfelt lyrics and melodies. Kumintang is another popular genre that is characterized by its upbeat tempo and cheerful lyrics. Dalit is a type of folk music that is often played during special occasions and celebrations. Kantang is a type of Philippine folk music that is known for its soothing and relaxing properties. Ilawod is another type of Philippine folk music that is known for its hauntingly beautiful melodies. Lastly, sagayan is a type of Philippine folk music that is characterized by its rhythmic beats and energetic dance movements.

Philippine Folk Music Instruments

Traditional Philippine music is diverse and includes a wide variety of musical instruments. The most popular and well-known instruments are the kulintang (a type of xylophone), the gongs, and various types of flutes.

The kulintang is a percussion instrument that consists of a row of graduated gongs that are played with mallets. The gongs produce a melodic, rhythmic, and sometimes harmonic sound that can be accompanied by singing or dancing.

The gongs are an important part of Philippine traditional music and are used in many different genres, including folk, tribal, and religious music. There are four main types of gongs: the Bossed Gong, which is large and has a deep sound; the Flat Gong, which is smaller and has a high-pitched sound; the Bowl Gong, which has a concave surface and produces a resonant sound; and the Friction Gong, which is rubbed with a stick to produce a buzzing sound.

Flutes are also commonly used in Philippine traditional music. There are two main types of flutes: the nose flute, which is played by blowing into one nostril while blocking the other nostril with a finger; and the bamboo flute, which is made from a length of bamboo that has been hollowed out and has holes cut into it to create different notes.

Philippine Folk Music in the Present Day

Folk music has always been a part of the Philippines. It is said to be one of the earliest forms of Filipino music. Folk music is often passed down from generation to generation, spreading through communities and across regions. In the present day, folk music continues to play an important role in the country’s musical traditions.

There are many different types of Philippine folk music, each with its own unique history and sound. Some popular examples include:

Kundiman: Kundiman is a traditional genre of Philippine folk music. The word kundiman comes from the Spanish word cundir, meaning “to sing.” Kundiman songs are often love songs, sung in a slow and mournful manner. They often tell stories of heartbreak or lost love.

Kumintang: Kumintang is a type of folk music that originated in the Philippines. It is similar to kundiman, but is generally more upbeat and cheerful in nature. Kumintang songs often tell stories of heroism or patriotic tales.

Bagobosong: Bagobosong is a type of Philippine folk song that originated in the southern part of the country. It is usually sung by fishermen while they work. Bagobosong songs often tell stories about the sea or about life in general.

These are just a few examples of Philippine folk music genres. There are many others, each with its own unique history and sound. If you’re interested in learning more about Philippine folk music, there are a number of resources available online and in libraries across the country.


Philippine Folk Music is rich and diverse, with hundreds of different styles and traditions. While it can be overwhelming to try to learn all of them, here are a few examples to get you started.

1. Kulintang music is originally from the Mindanao region of the Philippines, and is characterized by its unique pentatonic scale.
2. Biyaya is a folk song from the Visayas region, and is often sung as a lullaby or love song.
3. Kundiman is a traditional Filipino love song, typically sung in a slow and emotive style.
4. Ilawod is a folk song from the Visayas region which tells the story of a young boy who goes searching for his lost loved ones.
5. Dandanawa is a folk dance from the Mindanao region which is often performed at weddings and other special occasions.

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