John Palmes

John Palmes


I'd been attending the North American Jew's Harp Festival in Bay City Oregon (first weekend in August) and my friend Mark Poss, one of the vendors, was selling Phillipine bamboo "harps" which they call Kubing's.

Pair of KubingsKubings are wonderful works of art and culture, but they are inexpensive and they come in pairs..... because they are a courting instrument (I was told). Teenage couples would sit together and play and sing to each other..... I can see it... or hear it.... you have to play it.

This is from an Asian website:"Found all over the Philippines, the mouth harp is called Kubing among the Mindanao tribes ( Maguindanao and Maranao ), Kulaing in Cotabato, Subing in Visayas, Barmbaw among the Tagalogs, Kollibaw among the Negritos, Kinaban among the Hanunoo Mangyans, Afiw (made of metal) among the Bontocs, and Coding among the Ibaloys and Kalingas. With this instrument, it is said that courtships are made and the common words and language of love and lovemaking can easily be expressed." 

Wikipedia says: "The kubing is traditionally considered an intimate instrument, usually used as communication between family or a loved one in close quarters. Both genders can use the instrument, the females more infrequently than males who use it for short distance courtship."

So I started playing the little instrument and decided to try singing through it..... and wow!.. that's a great sound. For some reason Twelve Gates Into the City, a song I learned from Joan Baez's first(?) record, came out.

So much fun to play....  you can feel the beats between the voice and the instrument when their tones clash, then slide your voice up or down a half step to smooth them out and make them harmonize.

Might edit this a bit later, long, but this was a good take.. recorded at Al Berard's studio in Cecilia, Louisiana.. thanks Al! and bless you.