Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Reviving Ethnic Philippine Songs.

 Ethnic Music reduces anxiety and pain, induces relaxation, thus promoting the overall sense of well being of the individual. 
Dr Abe V Rotor 
Have you ever noticed village folks singing or humming as they attend to their chores? 

Fernando Amorsolo's paintings such as this, provide the ideal backdrop of Philippine ethnic music. 

Music is closely associated with everyday life among village folks more than it is to us living in the city. The natives find content and relaxation beside a waterfall, on the riverbank, under the trees, in fact there is to them music in silence under the stars, on the meadow, at sunset, at dawn. Breeze, crickets, running water, make a repetitious melody that induces sleep.  Humming indicates that one likes his or her work, and can go on for hours without getting tired at it. Boat songs make rowing synchronized.  Planting songs make the deities of the field happy, so they believe; and songs at harvest are thanksgiving. Seldom is there an activity without music. The sound of nature to them is music.

According to researcher Leonora Nacorda Collantes, of the UST graduate school, music influences the limbic system, called the “seat of emotions” and causes emotional response and mood change. Musical rhythms synchronize body rhythms, mediate within the sphere of the autonomous nervous and endocrine systems, and change the heart and respiratory rate.  Music reduces anxiety and pain, induces relaxation, thus promoting the overall sense of well being of the individual.

Ethnic music has greatly influenced folk music that we know today, such as the following. These are songs about   
  1. rowing the boat (Talindaw)
  2. planting rice (Magtanim Hindi Biro);
  3. a happy, simple home (Bahay Kubo), 
  4. wedding (Diona)  
  5. the butterfly (Paruparong Bukid)
  6. a tiny bird (Ang Pipit)
  7. lullaby (uyayi, hele, Ugoy ng Duyan)
  8. love's pleading (Kundiman)
  9. serenade (Harana)
  10. countryside living (Sa Libis ng Nayon)
  11. a light or star (O Ilaw, Aking Bituin)
  12. wooden clog (Bakya Mo Neneng)
  13. exulting the young Filipina (Dalagang Pilipina
  14. early love, "The Love of a Girl" (Ti Ayat ti Maysa nga Ubing Ilk)
  15. a broken clay pot (Nabasag ang Banga)
 Typical Filipina on the countryside (Ang Dalagang Pilipina),
painting by Fernando Amorsolo


Here is an example of an indigenous song, Uyayi or hele (Lullaby).  Note how natural and spontaneous it is. The lyrics were invented to fit varied melodies. You can make your own, too.   
Matulog ka na, bunso
Sleep now, youngest one

Ang ina mo ay malayo
Your mother is far away

at hindi ka masundo
and she can't come for you

May putik, may balaho 
                                                There's mud, there's a swamp 

Among the Filipino musicologists who have contributed much to the revival and conservation of traditional Philippine music are  
1.  Fr. Morice Vanoverberg, who focused on the traditional music of the Lepanto Igorots of the north. 
2. Emilia Cavan, for her collection of  Filipino Folk Songs  published in 1924. 
3. Norberto Romualdez , for his collection of Folk Songs in the 'Philippine Progressive Music Series' published in the late 1920s.  The series became the textbook for teaching music in the Primary School.  It remains to be the most important collection of traditional music from the Philippines, since a copy of it is still available in major Municipal and Provincial Libraries in the country.
 4. Emilia Reysio-Cruz, for her collection of 'Filipino Folk Songs' that caters to the so- called 'Eight Major Languages' of the country.  The collection is perhaps the best representation of the songs from these ethnolinguistic groups.
5. Dr. Jose Maceda, former chair of the Department of Asian Music Research of the College of Music of the University of the Philippines, also did some collection which began in 1953 and lasted until 1972. This was followed by collections from his students as well.
6. Prof. Raul Sunico, currently the dean of the Conservatory of Music of the University of Santo Tomas, published his own collection.  He began with publishing a collection of lullabies, followed by love songs, then by work songs. Finally, he published a collection of songs about Filipino women, a major topic of traditional songs from all the ethnolinguistic groups. All these collections were arranged for the piano and the words are given in their original languages. A translation is also supplied, not to mention a brief backgrounder about the culture of the specific ethnic groups.

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