The Rondalla and Its Instruments
The rondalla refers to a group of young men who went around towns regularly playing and singing in front of houses in Spain – a practice later introduced in Mexico and the Philippines. At present, it is a group composed of musicians of string instruments played using a plectrum, which belong to the family of lute and zither. The main instruments of the rondalla are the banduria, octavina, laud, guitar, and bass. In some cases a piccolo banduria is added, for music that requires higher tones and the mandola for lower tones.
A medley of compositions by Alfredo Buenaventura performed by Kwerdas Filipinas, featuring players with the five main instruments of the Rondalla.
The bandurria is a pear-shaped instrument with 14 strings. It is the lead instrument and provides the main melody for the ensemble.
The octavina is a guitar-shaped instrument but smaller in size. It also has 14 strings and the tuning is an octave lower than the bandurria. It serves as the alto in the ensemble.
The laud is also an octave lower than the bandurria. It is pear-shaped with two f-holes in its body.
The guitar has 6 strings and it serves as the accompaniment in the ensemble, playing the chords of the music.
The bass has 4 strings which gives the lower tones to the ensemble. Although the most common used today is the upright bass with a tailpiece that serves as the stand, very few groups still use the bajo de uñas or a bass shaped like a big guitar and played by using a thick plectrum or the finger nail.