Entertainment, Music

Common Misconceptions on Music Students/Music Practitioners

Hello guys! How are you doing? Just a few days to go before Christmas and here’s to more performance and entrepreneurial sidelines. However, despite the existence of sidelines for mostly music students, people still assume that there are little to no opportunities for music students. People often assumed that studying music is THAT easy.

“Puro kanta at tugtog lang naman kayong mga music major eh.”

This is one big misconception against music students. During my undergraduate studies in UP, Music Theory was one of our make or break subjects. Since it garnered 5 units, flunking Music Theory causes a major delay in our music studies. Another major element is that we also have Music Literature classes to help us understand whatever piece we perform, in terms of historical value. Not to mention, in my musicology classes, we do a critical analysis of (almost) all of the musical pieces we encounter. Not to mention, pop is even included, with Simon Frith as one of the most notable pop musicologists. We also do field research in studying every music community, be it classical, indigenous, or even pop!

“Wala namang pera sa pagiging musiko/pag-aaral ng music.”

THINK AGAIN. There are a lot of people from the music industry who are formally schooled in music, whether in UP, UST, PWU, CSB, or even MINT. Apart from National Artist Ryan Cayabyab, some of the notable people from the music industry who actually studied music in college are veteran music arranger Homer Flores, Jona, Moira dela Torre, Froilan Canlas (Tawag ng Tanghalan’s “Songsmith”-slash-vocal coach), Gerphil Flores (Yup! David Foster’s Golden Girl.), Louie Ocampo (He even graduated from Berklee!), Jerrold Tarog (Yes! The man behind the films “Heneral Luna” and “Goyo.”), Armi Millare of UDD, and many more. Most of the session band musicians (e.g., TNT Band, The Arrangers) in major TV networks even studied music in college. Wedding and bar musicians even earn from performing. Most sound engineers also earn a huge sum of money, due to numerous recording projects.

These are just two of major misconceptions on music students and music practitioners. There are actually more. To my dear friends who study music and/or have a music-related job, feel free to leave a comment. 🙂

 

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Music, Television

Himig Handog 2018: Love Songs and Love Stories Top 10 (REVIEW)

This Sunday, October 21, Himig Handog will feature “Dalawang Pag-ibig Niya” (a collaboration between Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids Season 2’s “Precious Darling” Krystal Brimner, Tawag ng Tanghalan Kids “Inday Wonder” Sheenna Belarmino, and MNL 48) and “Mas Mabuti Pa” (by Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 2 Grand Champion Janine Berdin). “Kababata” and “Sugarol” will also be featured. The grand finals will be held on November 25, 2018, also aired in ASAP.

This article will give you guys a sneak peek of each entry, as well as my reviews.

Here are the top 10 entries for this year’s Himig Handog Love Songs and Love Stories.

“Dalawang Pag-ibig Niya” is a collaboration between Tawag ng Tanghalan Kids’ “Inday Wonder” Sheenna Belarmino, Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids Season 2’s “Precious Darling” Krystal Brimner, and all-girl group MNL 48. The song was written by Bernard Reforsado of Albay. It is an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) fit for pre-teens, almost similar to K-Pop (think of Momoland) and J-Pop. The song speaks of a girl having a crush on someone who rather chose the girl who is more “pabebe” (acting cute) than her. It also talks about social media romances, such as stalking and existence of posers.

“Hati na Lang Tayo Sa Kanya” is interpreted by Tawag ng Tanghalan’s “Powerhouse Performer” Eumee and actor JC Santos. Written by Joseph Santiago of Quezon City, it talks about a woman’s willingness to share the love of her life with another woman. In fact, looking at the song’s lyrics, it is fit to become a soundtrack of a mistress-themed drama (e.g., The Legal Wife). It is a power ballad where Eumee’s voice was a mix of Jessie J and Lara Fabian (Remember Broken Vow?). While Eumee’s vocals characterized the “wife,” Santos’s speech signified the man being fought for. However, the song’s interpretation could have been more effective if another female singer would have a contrapuntal part with Eumee’s parts. The most I could idealize with this song is that the second female part would act as the “third wheel” or the “mistress.”

“Kababata,” written by John Micheal Edixon of Parañaque was an R&B ballad interpreted by Kyla and Kritiko. Reminiscent of Gloc 9’s themes, Kritiko’s parts narrated how his childhood with his girl friend went, until the girl underwent a major tragedy in her life. Kyla’s ad-libs in the part, “Bakit nila sa’yo ‘to nagawa?” signified the girl’s suffering, screaming for help.

“Mas Mabuti Pa,” is a collaborative work between Mhonver Lopez and Joanna Concepcion, both from Laguna, and sung by Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 2’s Grand Champion and “New Gem of OPM,” Janine Berdin. It is a pop-rock ballad, which spoke of a girl who gave up giving all her love as her efforts were rather snubbed. Despite her young age, Berdin was able to interpret the song to the extent that I got teary-eyed in most parts. She was also able to variate her dynamics as she maintained her husky pop-rock voice.

Robert William Pereña (of Dubai)’s “Para Sa Tabi,” is a light R&B song by BoybandPH. It talks about a man’s struggles being the “third wheel,” and reminds men not to rush things, especially love. The “Mama, para” hook was LSS-inducing that it would potentially become a radio hit soon. Their vocal blend was stellar, especially in the last line, “Diyan sa tabi,” that I would seriously recommend everyone to watch their ASAP performance video of the said song on YouTube. Attached is the link.

Kyle Raphael Borbon (of Davao)’s “Sa Mga Bituin Na Lang Ibubulong,” performed by actor JM de Guzman, is an indie ballad, synonymous to Sud’s. Unlike the rest of the entries, it is rather toned down.

“Sugarol,” written by Jan Sabili of Muntinlupa, is sung by actress Maris Racal. It is a waltz-like ballad, which talked about taking risks, despite experiencing false hopes in the past. The song could have progressed better if variations will be done in every stanza.

Sarah Jane Gandia (of USA)’s “Tinatapos Ko Na,” interpreted by Jona, talks about the closure of a romantic relationship. The song started quietly, which channeled Jona’s pure vocals as the instruments slowly entered. This song proved that Jona was more than just a belter. She was able to variate her dynamics, which enhanced the song’s heartbreaking theme.

Philip Arvin Janilla (of Antipolo)’s “Wakasan” is sung by Agsunta. The title may actually fool you because the song does not talk about closure. It talks about how society did not want the persona to become someone’s boyfriend. However, despite all odds, the persona does not give up until he is able to be with his loved one.

Last of the ten is “Wala Kang Alam,” sung by Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 First Runner-Up and “YouTube Idol” Sam Mangubat. It talks about how a man got left out of the blue in the middle of his struggles. It may pass as the male counterpart of Lopez and Concepcion’s “Mas Mabuti Pa.” It is a heavy ballad, synonymous to the ones sung by Martin Nievera and Gary Valenciano. The instrumentation, which was heavy on timpani and strings, were reminiscent of Homer Flores’s arrangements for most of the teleserye soundtracks.

Of all the ten entries, here is my top 5: Hati Na Lang Tayo Sa Kanya, Kababata, Mas Mabuti Pa, Tinatapos Ko Na, and Para Sa Tabi. While Para Sa Tabi may become a potential radio hit, the most heartfelt interpretations were Hati Na Lang Tayo Sa Kanya and Tinatapos Ko Na.

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Entertainment, Music

ALBUM REVIEW: Love, BoybandPH

Two years after winning ABS-CBN’s Pinoy Boyband Superstar, quintet BoybandPH has released its second album under Star Music called Love, BoybandPH. A listening party was also held, weeks prior to its launch.

It is composed of nine tracks, namely, Kaligayahan (Happiness) Interlude which has two parts, “Kung Di Mo Natatanong” (If You Haven’t Asked), “Hanggang Kailan Kaya” (Until When) – the album’s carrier single, “Please Lang Naman” (Please), “D’Tyo” (Not Us), “Drive”, “Tagahanga” (Fan), and “Pa’no Ba” (How). “Tagahanga” was penned by pop-rock singer Yeng Constantino while “Please Lang Naman” was written by Moira dela Torre. “Pa’no Ba” was created by Tawag ng Tanghalan’s Songsmith Froilan Canlas, the group’s vocal coach.

The Kaligayahan Interlude (both parts) channels the best of the group’s vocal harmony, in terms of balance. The voices are even at the start of the song while the melody is clearly heard during the stanza parts. The bass part is also distinct.

Kung Di Mo Natatanong is reminiscent of 1990s Bubblegum Pop Boyband Ballads commonly played during Junior-Senior Prom dances. Counterpoints may have existed in the chorus part but they are seamlessly done, along with the song’s main melody.

Hanggang Kailan Kaya, the album’s carrier single is a mix of boyband harmonies and electronic pop. Some parts may be modified through music technology or “auto-tuned” but the vocal parts remain distinct and not overly artificial. Overall, this song is danceable.

 

Dela Torre’s Please Lang Naman has a sound fit for television commercials. Along with its guitar patterns commonly used in sway-worthy music, the song’s character is light and easy. It focuses more on the BoybandPH’s member’s individual vocal prowess. However, the “woooh” parts could have sounded better if they are sung with a bit of swing feel.

Both “D’Tyo” and “Drive” have a danceable feel. Drive’s recurring instrumental pattern is distinct, as well as its bass lines and sawtooth riffs. However, the boys’ voices are more remarkable in D’Tyo than in “Drive.”

Constantino takes a little break from her usual pop-rock songwriting practice in “Tagahanga.” Compared to her previous works, “Tagahanga” has more of a pop sound, which is peppered with electronic beats yet the boys’ vocals remain unadulterated.

“Pa’no Ba”, penned by Canlas, is an R&B ballad, which is reminiscent of Boyz II Men’s and 98 Degrees’s ballads that existed in the 1990s. The song’s melody is not only remarkable. The background vocal parts are also even, especially in the chorus part. In fact, nobody from the quintet sticks out in the chordal parts. Russell Reyes’s and Niel Murillo’s ad lib parts are distinct yet sung seamlessly.

Of the tracks mentioned, BoybandPH’s vocal harmonies are best channeled in “Kaligayahan Interlude” (both Parts 1 and 2), “Kung Di Mo Natatanong”, and Pa’no Ba. My only suggestion for “Pa’no Ba” is to have an acoustic version released soon to make the song’s meaning come out better.

Overall, this album deserves a rave, not only because the entire album sounds current. With Canlas’s and Kiko Salazar’s guidance, the quintet’s vocal harmony is “eargasmic” because of its balance and seamlessness. Looking forward to more purely a cappella songs from BoybandPH.

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Entertainment, Music, Television

The Breakdown of Birit and Ventriloquist Monotonies in Mass Media

Whew! It’s been almost a week since I had my thesis bookbound. Just a few days away before this semester ends…

Yesterday, I attended the talk of Mr. James Gabrillo, a PhD candidate from the University of Cambridge, who presented his dissertation on the Music in Mass Media , 1990s and beyond. In his dissertation, he has presented the evolution of music for noontime shows, specifically in the Tuviera-produced Eat Bulaga, as well as the meaning behind the Aegis band’s songs.

Part of his study on Eat Bulaga included some of the singing competitions that existed during the 1990s, such as the Birit series (Baby, King, Queen), Ikaw at Echo, and Lola’s Playlist. Ikaw at Echo, similar to its predecessor, Gaya-Gaya Puto Maya, deals more with singer ventriloquisms where each participant was expected to almost exactly copy his/her idol’s voice, getup, and stage projection.

I reviewed my notes from Gabrillo’s presentation and compared it with my thesis notes on Tawag ng Tanghalan, which is a tad more current. I just watched one episode of the show’s Ultimate Resbak (Wildcard Round). I noticed that there are lesser biriteras, compared to last season. And at the same time, the jury (more known as the hurados), preferred contenders who rather “own” the songs they have chosen, instead of just performing them similarly to the original recordings. “Owning” the song meant that the participant is able to incorporate his/her own style (“may sariling bali,” in Tagalog), apart from being a biritera or someone who deals more on vocal pyrotechnics. I have also observed that the production team does its best to break the biritera monotony which I rather found more beneficial for the development of OPM. The Original Pilipino Music genre seriously needs to stand out more. It seriously needs to be more than just vocal pyrotechnics and ventriloquisms.

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Music

TUM THE BEAT OF THE MARIMBA

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With Marimba Prodigy Tum-Tum Mendoza!

       Autism is still one of the least talked-about issues in terms of mental health for it was often dismissed as a disease. It is rather a spectrum disorder. While most people say that autism may hinder a person from pursuing his craft, it was not the same case for multi-awarded marimba prodigy Thristan Mendoza, more known as Tum-Tum.

            “Some of the teachers and personnel from my first school, Philippine Montessori Center, have discovered that I have not, I didn’t want to join my classmates in their ‘together activities,’” Tum-Tum. According to Tum-Tum, his teachers, along with some school personnel, often had to deal with how he interacted with his classmates during group activities.

In grade school, Tum-Tum would rather sit in a corner and read books by himself. He played with school materials all by himself while his classmates socialized with one another.  He also did not seem to look in the eye of the person he was conversing with.

“They told my parents I had autism. So, my mom looked for a therapist who could help me improve my interaction skills and help me learn how to face the real world and do ‘together things’ with other people, whether in just plain speech or during play time,” Tum-Tum narrated.

Yet, Tum-tum was still bullied in school even as he worked harder, motivated to do better.

“I treated everything like competition. I always wanted to be the first to greet the teachers and say goodbye to them, or to finish my work and submit it first. I always wanted to get the highest grade in my class,” Tum-Tum said. He would usually give himself a pat on the back whenever he aced his school requirements.

In high school at Reedley International School, Tum-Tum was not bullied anymore. But there were still habits that he had to outgrow to be able to communicate with people better.

“There were some habits I did, like charging at some people like a bull,” he narrated. “Although during my last year, I had to learn that I cannot do that all the time.”

Despite his condition, Tum-Tum pursued his career as a musician. He first experienced playing musical instruments when he was five years old. “I was interested in the marimba because when I saw some xylophones in children’s books and even toy xylophones, they have those with colored keys,” Tum-Tum narrated. According to Tum-Tum, the marimba had its most potential for him to play several musical pieces for it is a keyboard instrument.

Tum-Tum initially got jealous of his siblings because while he was studying the instrument, his siblings were playing with each other. “But in the long run, I learned that I had to make a passion out of it and I’ll be able to use it with all my skills,” Tum-Tum realized.

It was in the year 2013 when Tum-Tum was encouraged to join the National Music Competition for Young Artists, his first motivation was to make his parents buy him a Nintendo Wii he had always been dreaming of.

 

“During the semifinals, my mom once told me that, ‘If you don’t qualify for the finals, we won’t give you a Wii,’” Tum-Tum narrated.

One of his mentors during the competition was his percussion professor Leo Roque who did not only guide Tum-Tum in polishing his pieces, but also in enjoying the entire performance. He was even advised to play the competition piece as if the composer were still alive.

“Since I played well, it’s just a sign that autism should not stop you from reaching your goals and achieving those dreams that you really want,” Tum-Tum said. While his desire to make his parents buy him the Nintendo Wii he always wanted, he thought that no matter how small his motivation was, it could be something bigger for him to go beyond what he can do. “But I still have to rely on the power of God and keep the faith that I will be able to steer me into the prize,” Tum-Tum added. As a Born-Again Christian, he always asked for God’s guidance every time he performed on the marimba.

“I have been performing in the first to the fifth World Autism Awareness Day concerts held in selected SM malls that were held every April,” Tum-Tum said. As a musician, he was able to raise people’s awareness on autism through events like this. However, as a classically trained marimbist, there was one instance when people seemed disinterested with his performance. “That caused me to make plans to arrange mainstream music for solo marimba.”

“Every time I hear music, sometimes when I hear specific tunes, I can imagine different things and that helped me make unique associations as I heard different tunes,” Tum-Tum said. Associations to various things is how music mattered to him. For instance, every time he heard the music used in his high school’s cheer dance intramurals, he would imagine himself in outer space.

While he used to love listening to mainstream genres like pop and rock during his high school years, his favorite genre is Eurodance, which made him want to jam and dance to it. “I buy CD’s for that musical style, and save those tracks into my online music streaming libraries,” Tum-Tum said.

“Every time you feel mocked, don’t let it bring you down,” Tum-Tum advised. Despite having autism, Tum-Tum has made a mark in marimba playing, not only in the Philippines, but also in other countries like in the United States and Brunei. “Keep the faith and always keep on developing your passion for it and in that way, you’ll be able to treat it like fun. You have fun with it and eventually, you’ll become really successful in the craft that you are given,” Tum-Tum added. With great faith in God and motivation, one can be successful despite any condition he may have.

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Music, Sociology, Television

PINOY BODABIL, A NEW CONCEPT OR SIMPLY A SERIES OF HUMOROUS OBSCENITIES?

Last February, during the Radyo Bodabil Symposium held in UP Diliman, Dr. Maria Rhodora Ancheta  presented her paper on the Pinoy Bodabil, which focused on the repertoire of Katy de la Cruz. She mentioned the difference between the American vaudeville and the Filipino Bodabil. It was stated in her paper that while the American vaudevilles consisted of slapstick comedy antics, animal shows, and acrobatics, the Pinoy Bodabil, as a variety show, focused on joke narratives, which were mostly sexually suggestive. One of the most popular Bodabil artists was Katy de la Cruz. In this article, several questions, in line with previous explanations will be presented.

Since the Philippines was a consistently conservative culture, how did the listeners react to de la Cruz’s lyrical content? They may not be explicitly sung but most of her songs contained sexual innuendos. For instance, her song “Saging ni Pacing” may not just refer to simply a bunch of fruit. It may mean something else like infidelity or something more obscene. Hence, “Saging ni Pacing” may be translated to Pacing’s Banana. It was later retitled to “Pacing” for censorship. As for “Balut”, which is another de la Cruz hit song, it may not just refer to simply the duck egg itself. It may likewise mean that the balut is a good aphrodisiac, something that can increase sex drive.

Since it was mentioned that the Bodabil was the Filipinized version of the American vaudeville, how come it became a fusion of previous forms of entertainment from the United States? As mentioned by Dr. Ancheta in her paper, the Pinoy Bodabil often dealt with sexual naughtiness, which was rooted from the American Burlesque. Like the Pinoy Bodabil, the American Burlesque likewise showed sexually suggestive jokes.

Lyrically speaking, why was the Bodabil considered Filipinized, the fact that a huge chunk of de La Cruz’s songs were mashed up with previously released English songs? Some of these were “I Don’t Know Why” and “A Tear Fell”. If it was indeed Filipinized, why weren’t these songs fully translated in Tagalog? Could this be caused by the American censorship? It is possible. Because basing from written history, the Americans banned the Filipinos to use the Filipino language so to further pacify them, they sent a team of “Thomasites” or English teachers from the United States to teach the Filipinos in English.

These were just the few questions presented.  Probably, these questions may be answered in future research dissertations. These questions dealt more on how “Filipino” the Bodabil was, in the middle of American Imperialism influences.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I previously wrote this for my Special Topics in Musicology class during the Second Semester, A.Y. 2016-2017.

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Travel

Music in the Transportation in the Philippines

I started commuting to and from school since 2015, due to the continuously increasing traffic volume in the Metro. It takes two jeepney rides and an LRT ride to school everyday. I rarely take the taxi for it already composed of a huge chunk of my weekly allowance. I only do so in extreme cases (i.e. LRT broke down so I needed to be in school for an hour).

Usually, when I am with my dad, we listen to either Retro 105.9 or Wish 107.5. Both my dad and I loved listening to songs of the yesteryears, from the 1960s up to around the 1980s, as well as few of the songs from the contemporary. However, most of the public transportation drivers here in the Philippines do not just prefer listening to the top hits of the present. They likewise loved listening to power ballads and so-called “jukebox” hits. I asked my dad why such drivers loved listening to these types of music. He mentioned that they needed to listen to something that keeps them awake while on transit, especially if the trip would last for at least eight hours.

Yesterday, a new song entitled, “Tumahan Ka Na” by Tawag ng Tanghalan Grand Champion Noven Belleza was launched on the airwaves. It reminded me of the songs I usually hear on the taxi’s radio, not only because of Noven’s distinctly high and rockstar-ish tenor voice. The song’s melody, as well as Noven’s vocal timbre, reminded me of the Rockstar band’s hit songs, such as “Mahal Pa Rin Kita” and “Ika’y Mahal Pa Rin“, as well as April Boy Regino’s “Esperanza“. It likewise reminded me of Firehouse’s “I Live My Life” and  “Love of A Lifetime”. I actually liked the song’s lyrical content for it reminded me that in every struggle, there is always an opportunity to move on and start anew.

Here’s Noven’s “Tumahan Ka Na”:

Okay, going back to my discussion, in my bus trips to the northern part of Luzon, such as Cagayan and Baguio City, aside from the songs of Firehouse, I usually heard songs from other power ballad bands such as White Lion (“Till Death Do Us Part” and “You’re All I Need), Steve Perry-led Journey (“Open Arms” and “Faithfully”), and Aegis (“Halik“, “Basang-Basa Sa Ulan“, and “Luha”). Sometimes, I heard a few songs from Renz Verano and Imelda Papin.

I have been reading the Mabuhay magazine, the international inflight magazine of Philippine Airlines, where the playlist was provided at the end of the page. What I saw were mostly songs from Filipino singers like Gary Valenciano, Martin Nievera, Erik Santos, Jed Madela, among others, as well as songs from the American Top 40 and even Kenny G’s songs. PAL’s playlists were almost the same as Cathay Pacific’s and Dragonair’s.

Depending on the mode of transportation, the playlist (sometimes, but not necessarily) defines its target audience, as well as the overall feel during transit.

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