Danongan “Danny” Sibay Kalanduyan. • Courtesy photo

‘Tones, Rhythms and Pure Energy’

By Bob Antolin
Guest Contributor

I first met Danny at the University of Washington’s School of Music, Department of Ethnomusicology, as a graduate ethno student, learning the art of Kulintang. Kulintang is a gong music tradition found in the Southern Philippines and all along that region extending to Indonesia and Bali. The tones, rhythms, and pure energy radiating from this music drew me in.

Danny had quite a flare and facility on the instrument that transcended his mortal soul. He was one of the artists-in-residence in the ethno department brought in by Professor Robert Garfias, who was the founder of the Ethnomusicology Department at UW in the early 1960s. Danny’s gentle demeanor and willingness to share his music culture was quite refreshing. He was enjoyable to be around. As the master-to-student relationship began we soon became friends.

He lived in the same university-run apartments as I did during that time and we soon began to hang outside of the class regimen. We had similar interests in sports. There was a boxing exhibition at the Seattle Center Arena that we attended and enjoyed. My dad, as with every other Filipino male of his generation, was a boxing fan. I learned to appreciate it at a very young age. There was a Golden Glove lightweight champion, an Olympic-hopeful from Tacoma, that we had a particular interest in watching.

Danny’s insights to American culture was interesting. As an observer from the outside, he noticed everyday American things with wonder. I think he was living in Seattle for only two years when I met him. We had fun observing cultural differences.

Danny’s music is very intense and the energy and rhythms are like shout-out choruses of a hard-hitting blues. The music is mesmerizing when the energy is at its peak. Danny brought that energy and spirit to the Seattle area and impacted a population in its wake. I am one of those that was blessed to be around such a master musician and to be able to feel his spirit for the music.

I recently wrote a composition dedicated to Nigerian guitarist/vocalist/bandleader King Sunny Ade titled, “King Sunny’s Bounce”. The melody is a minor pentatonic melody that somewhat resembles melodies for the kulintang. The rhythmic variations to the melody is similar to the rhythmic variations found in the melodies of the kulintang. Yes, Danny had an influence to that melody on that song. I last talked with him over the phone earlier this year. He was planning to come up to Seattle for a show in the early summer.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see him. Danny always carried himself with dignity. I appreciated that character in him. Danny was a gentleman! He left a legacy …

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Remembering a kulintang master

By Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo
Guest Contributor

I was first introduced to my study of traditional Filipino kulintang in 1978 through my involvement with Sining Bayan, a Fil-Am political theater group based in San Francisco. However at the time all we had for sources were recordings. Soon after that I was connected with master musician Danny Kalanduyan amongst other kulintang musicians and made preparations for my music travel to Mindanao in 1980 to immerse himself in the Kulintang tradition of the Southern Philippines.

Upon returning in 1981, along with my wife, Nancy Wang, we established a kulintang performance school and company. With a California Arts Council artists-in-community grant, we additionally introduced and taught the Southern Kulintang music and dance tradition in Filipino communities of the Bay Area, including to Pilipino youth. Having remembered the excellent teaching of master Danny Kalanduyan, his depth of knowledge and eagerness to impart his tradition to all willing to learn, we applied for an NEA Mentorship grant. Through this funding we brought Danny to San Francisco in 1983/84 to supplement my teaching, as well as to perform as a guest with our company Kalilang Kulintang Ensemble, the first such company in Northern California. Danny never returned to Washington state, establishing full-time residence in San Francisco. The rest is history.

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