Sunday, November 06, 2005

Mister Musikero

There was an interesting debate earlier on the ABS-CBN show, Y Speak. Apparently, even mainstream media has noticed the proliferation of new bands and new music that all fall under the umbrella term Original Pinoy Music. Yet a lot of these bands and musical performers are more often than not known for their revivals as opposed to new and original music. So the big question remains, "What is OPM? Is this an exclusive term that defines musicians who write new material and perform them? Or does this also encompass these 'revivals' that are also popular with the radio-happy crowd?" And while we're at it, why don't we question the concept of "original" and "Filipino"? What makes music original, and what makes it Filipino? Is there even a delineation between the local and international music industry or are we merely a hodgepodge of foreign musical influences that are just smooshed together?

My friends all know what a nutcase I am when it comes to OPM, particularly the band scene and the music, and yes, they've seen my psyching out to Sugarfree. (Digression: The band was the biggest reason why I was at the UP Fair this year THREE NIGHTS IN A ROW - I was sitting on the grass beside the stage and just vibrating with excitement when the first chords of "Hari ng Sablay" was played. Never mind the crowd and the violence; this was a personal commune between me and Ebe.) While I'm not a musical connosieur (correct spelling? I have no idea) when it comes to older bands - I'm an Eraserheads-onward kind of girl - I must admit that the vitality and energy of the current musical community is just exciting.

But I am not too keen on revivals, particularly the karaoke-ish revivals of bands like MYMP or musicians like Nina or Kyla (whose first song ever I loved - though I forget the title - and the video was just astoundingly creepy and beautiful and cutting-edge, but now she's just one of those mainstream hiphop divas that I've come to dislike). I mean, revivals are all well and good, but can we revive songs that aren't familiar, at the very least? They defend themselves - at least MYMP - by saying that the revivals they choose are so that they can bring these old songs to a new audience. Yes, but these are songs WE ARE ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH. Like Jennifer Love Hewitt. I mean, she was from our generation. She's not even 30 yet, and you're already telling us that it's an "old song"? Please.

In my opinion, OPM is a catchall phrase for musicians who are writing new and original music (original, as in, you made it yourself - words, melody, riffs, arrangement) about the unique Filipino experience. We keep on talking about how we are so influenced by so many foreign cultures, but in a paradoxical kind of way, this is also what makes the sound uniquely Filipino. In a postmodern sense, things just go around, I suppose. Originality depends on the person and the experience and how you process it in an artistic and creative manner that inevitably touches an audience. I'm not saying that revivals cannot touch an audience - I think these songs have a very definitive (and nostalgic/sentimental) audience - but there's a different feeling when I hear an original Filipino composition as opposed to something that was just revived.

Of course, you can always argue originality via interpretation, but then again, how original can you be when you already have a basic melody and the lyrics to a song?

But then again, I suppose music, like all artistic pursuits, is also very subjective. Not everyone likes these bands; likewise, not everyone likes these acoustic revivals. I suppose what's important when considering OPM is the fact that it speaks to the Filipino plight, the uniqueness of the Filipino mindset and culture, and realize that it's different because it becomes OURS. ^_^ It's similar to the long-standing argument that you can't write about the Filipino experience in the English language because English isn't our native tongue. That's just plain stupid. As Filipinos, we use English and make it into our own, molding the language to our unique experience. Same with music - we take what we can and mold it into something that fits the strange, quirky, weird, beautiful quality of the Filipino and the Filipino experience.

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