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.


The Current State of Philippine Music Criticism

I originally wrote this for my Music Criticism class. This article told about the state of Music Journalism in the Philippines.


Thousands of concerts have already been featured in various blogs, magazines, and newspapers.  While some of them were mostly advertorials (editorials-cum-advertisements) and press releases, some were write-ups on recently concluded performances.

The popular music scene in the Philippines is always associated with the television and movie industries. This is evident when major local newspapers would feature a recently concluded concert series of a pop musician, whether local or foreign. Most writers dwelled too much on the artists’s biography, rather than just on the concert itself since they thought that the artists’ fans would rather read trivial content. Writers likewise spent too much time on mentioning notable celebrities present in every concert. For instance, if a major newspaper would feature a concert of a famous local singer such as Sarah Geronimo, writers would not really discuss Geronimo’s performance in such a way that the song, vocal attack, and audience reception would be noted and critique. Showbiz writers would merely mention the showbiz personalities who watched the concert, as well as the other personalities who became guest performers.

As for the art music scene in the Philippines, there were only a handful of writers who publish about ballet, orchestra, choral, and opera concerts. While some writers were able to note details of a ballet concert in their most detailed way, most classical concert reviews lacked important details, even the simplest details like the repertoire performed. Most writers would even demand special favors (i.e., free transportation, complimentary ticket, free meal)  whenever an art music artist would request to have his/her performance critiqued on paper. Granted with these special favors, the concerned writer would not anymore discuss and critique the featured concert in detail.

Another problem in featuring operas in Philippine newspapers was that writers often forget to give a brief synopsis of a particular opera as well as the cast members who stood out in the performance. Not to mention, they do not really dwell on how well these cast members performed and how much they should work on their craft.

On the side of the writers,  it was apparent that most of them write about mixed art media. For instance, a feature article on a recently concluded concert of the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra is often mixed with the articles not pertinent to music. At this point, nobody really focused on solely discussing the concert with attention to non-Schenkerian music details.

As for the popular music scene, most showbiz writers spent too much on discussing the artists’ personal lives (often heavy on discussing their current relationship status with their respective significant halves), rather than on how they performed in a particular concert. They likewise forget to discuss about the audiences’ reactions which are quite crucial in explaining how a particular concert became either a “hit” or a “flop”.

It is quite saddening that most writers here in the Philippines, especially in the Entertainment division, do not really “review” the concert they are writing about. They often forget to closely note even the smallest details like the repertoire and performance attacks.