The wide range of traditional musical instruments from different ethnolinguistic groups from Luzon to Mindanao, reflects the country’s rich cultural and historical diversity. The type of music that emanates from each instrument is more often than not influenced by the musician’s beliefs, culture, tradition, and environment.
The materials used in making each musical instrument have their own story to tell, as they give us ideas on the kind of environment the musician lives in. In making the musical instruments, it is common to use materials that are readily available and found in nature or acquired through human activities such as trading. The form and design of a musical instrument can also indicate or give clues on its origins, such us whether it is from the north or the south. Bossed or knobbed gongs are associated with the communities in the southern regions while flat ones are usually associated with the communities in northern regions. The handles of flat gongs are made of carved wood or human mandible while bossed gongs are made of rope or embellished with beads and brass bells.
Musical instruments of the Bangsamoro groups are often decorated with carved or painted okir while that of the Cordillera groups are incised with geometric designs. Instruments with syllabic script writings are from the Hanunuo of Mindoro and Tagbanua of Palawan. There are also instruments that can be played alone or part of an ensemble, exclusively played by males or females or can be played by both. Some are for festive occasions while others signal the passing of an important member of the community.