The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

November 28, 2016

Blaan Faglung

for Arjho Carino Turner and Hans Brandeis

Years ago, I bought a hegelung from Music Inn, in Manhattan. I
didn't know much about the instrument, but learned quickly, and
through a series of odd coincidences I met Grace Nono, T'boli
singer, musical advocate, and hegelung player; I also met,
independently, her friend Hans Brandeis, ethnomusicologist and
expert on the boat lute, a general name for the class of
instruments that the hegelung belonged to. I've played hegelung
for quite a while ( see audio below and my recent session with
the brilliant Luke Damrosch mastering and on madal at ). We're now in
Atlanta, and Hans has introduced me to Arjho Carino Turner, who
is Blaan and working with Blaan musicians in the Philippines;
she is also working with Blaan communities in the United States.
Azure and I had an amazing talk with her and her husband
Bernard, and her two children; we met at the Atlanta Zoo, and
she brought a faglung with her, that she has given her husband.
The faglung and hegelung are related; the T'boli and Blaan are
adjacent. We discussed ethnomusicology and its politics, the
position of the Blaan in the Philippines, and boat lutes and the
faglung in particular. Arjho doesn't play the instrument
herself, and let me play it in the parking lot. I was careful
with the tuning, since it hadn't been played for at least a
decade (in the Philippines; Bernard doesn't play it), and the
strings were delicate. But I was able to sound it somewhat, and
it was beautiful; tuned up properly it would be outstanding!

All this by way of saying this has been one of the peak
experiences of my life. The hegelung and faglung are, for me,
uncanny instruments; they have a life and spirit of their own.
I'm hoping to hear more Blaan music (some of it is on YouTube),
and possibly to help find a way to have a cd issued; I have one
of T'boli music done by Mickey Hart with the assistance of Fred
Lieberman. These musics should be heard; for me, they're
transporting, meditative, energized, and deep.

We've been discussing all of this on Facebook; I wanted to put
up something myself, since I can distribute this also to a few
email lists and Facebook pages that might be interested. Thank
you all! (Azure Carter took some of the photographs, by the

session with Luke Damrosch on madal, myself on hegelung -

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