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.

  • Tab-1
  • Octavina
  • Laud
  • Guitar
  • Tab-2
  • Bandurria

    The bandurria is a pear-shaped instrument with 14 strings. It is the lead instrument and provides the main melody for the ensemble.

  • Octavina

    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.

  • Laud

    The laud is also an octave lower than the bandurria. It is pear-shaped with two f-holes in its body.

  • Guitar

    The guitar has 6 strings and it serves as the accompaniment in the ensemble, playing the chords of the music.

  • Bass

    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.