Monday, March 03, 2003

First time I heard hegalong music was on a Joey Ayala CD. His Hegalong (a T'Boli 2-stringed lute) became just as (in)famous as him. His hegalong started out as a wall decoration until he had a dream that showed him how to play with it. Got a chance to play his hegalong which was suped up for stage performance with new frets and metal guitar pegs.

Got a hegalong myself when the T'Boli group from Lake Sebu came to town. The hegalong has only two strings. Only one has the frets under them so one of the strings plays the same tone all the time. Unlike a guitar where you stroke the strings down, the hegalong strings are stroked from the bottom one up. The frets on mine are beeswax with slivers of bamboo embedded in them. I'm still trying to coordinate the fingers on my left hand.

At first I wondered how can one create a song based on two strings. Coming from a western perspective where more is better, this sense of minimalism was new to me. But playing the hegalong, that's all you really need: chaos and stability. The drone, the string that never changes, is an anchor that the ear can always come back to. The other string sounds rather plain by it self but when paired with the drone, there's a depth to it. The drone changes slightly picking up the resonance of the played string.

A nice metaphor for life.

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