Entertainment, Field Work, Geography, Music, Sociology, Travel, Urban Ethnomusicology

Friendly Tips for Urban Ethnomusicologists (Field Researchers)

Mabuhay! My apologies for not blogging lately for I have been focused on doing my undergraduate thesis on the Ethnography of Live Professional Musicians in Metro Manila. In my thesis, I have been doing immersion trips in various live music scenes in Metro Manila, such as bars, TV studios, campus concerts, and even private events. Nevertheless, I’m having fun in the process. 🙂

Without further ado, here are some of a few tips to rock (en-roll) your urban ethnomusicological research.

  1. Reserve for your slot early in the TV studio. Nowadays, ABS-CBN is offering studio tour packages in order to watch either It’s Showtime (Php 205) or ASAP (Php 250) as a studio audience, without the need to go to the ABS-CBN Audience Entrance during dawn. However, the reservation should be done around two months before your desired date. Always check the KTX (Kapamilya Tickets) website (https://ktx.abs-cbn.com/) for available slots. Tickets for ASAP get sold out easily though 😦 For special cases, a letter of request (which should state your principal purpose) may be forwarded to the producers.
  2. If you would desire to watch a concert which involves performers with wide fan bases, buy your ticket as soon as the selling period starts. During the Cosmos UP Fair, a lot of people were not able to enter the Sunken Garden for the tickets have already been sold out, hours before the show. Since I went to the UP Fair solely for my thesis, I bought the ticket once the selling period has already started. Some concerts easily sell out like pancakes, such as the recently-concluded concert of Moira dela Torre at the Kia Theater. Even bar concert tickets get sold out easily!
  3. The PUVs and TNVs are your besties! Some venues may not have enough parking space so it’s best to take either the public utility vehicles or transport network vehicles (e.g. Uber, Grab) to bring you to the venue. However, exercise extra caution when traveling late at night. Safety is still your top priority.
  4. Always bring a small notebook and a camera. Unless the venue restricts video and photo documentation of performances, it is best to do documentation of the event by yourself to be able to note more details which you weren’t able to note during documentation. Videos are  “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” field records. In case there are video and photo documentation restrictions, feel free to request for videos from the company’s archives.
  5. Think about your questions carefully before conducting an interview. It is best to observe the event first before inviting someone for an interview. Doing such process may enable you to discuss your observations with him/her in which he/she will be able to interpret your observations better, as well as to refer you to more appropriate sources.
  6. Don’t just focus on observing the performance itself. It is best to interview both casual audiences and regular audiences (more of fans) to get their opinion towards the performance, as well as audience demographics. If allowed to do so, feel free to interview some of the production staff, as well as the performers themselves. For the case of mediated musicians or showbiz personalities, focus more on their performance practice, rather than the staple showbiz talkshow topics. Ask permission from their manager, as well. (Making a separate appointment is more recommended for interviewing showbiz personalities.)
  7. Dress accordingly. Some bars would strictly enforce the “smart-casual” dress code, especially in bars located in hotels. As for weddings, it is best to ask your contact person for the event’s theme and dress code. Decent casual (top and jeans) attire is recommended in most bars (e.g. 19 East) and TV studios so as not to upstage the hosts and performers.
  8. Enjoy, but always keep a keen eye and ear on important details. This is the number one rule for field researchers in general.
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