Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Music of Mount Mayon - Filipino Heart Throb!



I first saw Mount Mayon in 1978 while I was on a working school vacation from the conservatory at the University of the Philippines. It is about 12 hours by bus from Manila, southwards – an overnight journey. Despite the darkness during the journey, I had an inkling that the Bicol region (the southern most part of Luzon island) where Mt. Mayon is situated, and all the towns that ring it’s base (Iriga, Naga, Daraga, Legaspi), were quite different from the cacophony of Metro-Manila. I was right – and I kept going back to Bicol these last 30 years, and I always checked on Mayon each time.
One of my other affinities with Bicol are, that they eat chilies in their food, and their language has many “Malay” words. I am used to making long trips, when I am away from Singapore, just to get hot food! You can easily impress the local folk if you eat the chilies off their trees, or tell them that kannan(right) angin(air) dua(two), lima(five) and much more, are also in a language I speak - Malay. If you eat their chilies, then be prepared for a full bowl, placed in front of you, when you dine with them! Bicol chilies are hot – very hot!
Food in Bicol is just different from that in the Tagalog regions. If you are there, make sure you try pinangat – a dish made of elephant-ear gabi leaves (from a tuber like plant), stuffed with chilies and spiced meat or fish, and stewed in coconut milk. Make sure you try this in authentic restaurants or a family home, as they are poisonous if not prepared well.
The first job I had to do when I arrived at Legaspi (which is a gateway to Mayon), was to get a picture of the most perfect cone that Mayon was touted to be. My college-mates back at the International Center, where I lived, would always ask for proof, before anyone rambles about their adventures – a fair deal for any international dialogue!! It took me a whole day, sourcing out, haggling (I spoke enough Tagalog to get around) and finally, making a trek to an adjacent hill - more than twice the height of our Bukit Timah hill - to take some photographs. I am not a professional photographer, but the picture I took of Mt Mayon in 1978 (see below) is a treasured possession now – because Mayon is no more a perfect cone!
If you are in Legaspi, you cannot get out of the looming and dominating shadow of this fabulous volcano. It is always spewing white steam, as a constant reminder to all, that life can change anytime. Although the bulk of the people in Bicol are Catholics, they still retain the ancient mysticism that Mayon comes with – and of which they are very proud inheritors. Musicians, poets, painters and writers have all languished about Mayon – some even without visiting the mountain!!
One of the reasons why I had to see Mayon was because I came across the colossal Mayon Piano Concerto written by the late Francisco Buencamino Sr. He is a grand uncle of the famous Filipino concert pianist, Cecile Licad. She has performed this work. It is a three-movement work that captures the barrio (village) life around this beautiful, yet threatening volcano. Coming from Singapore in the 1970s, where we were aspiring to write such works, this musical score made a marked impression on me.
Subsequently, Buencamino wrote a piano fantasy based on this concerto, and which is in the Filipino piano repertory today. If you would like to hear the work go to this site – the pianist is Ms Ingrid Sala Santamaria: http://www.jahu.net/videos/video/B5b6SsBaGjo/
(If any pianist in Singapore wants to try this work, I will lend you the score – the fist page is shown below)
Mayon is steeped in legend – in fact, there are three such legends. However, all the legends are based on the central character, Daragon Magayon, in a brew of “romeo and juliet-ish”, ramayan-ish and even mahabarata-ish stories. Bicolanos are good story-tellers. In one of the Spanish-mestizo towns, Bacon, in Sorsogon, further south from Mayon, where I played in the church orchestra that Christmas in 1978, and since then many times again, there was an old farmer who told me a story that weaved parts of the story of Haiwatha into the Mayon legend.
This is the Mayon legend, I prefer telling, one that seems to be told most among the towns, many of which are named as rivals in the tragic story.
Since ancient times, Bicol was a peaceful and flat agricultural land, known for handsome men and beautiful women – and it still is. The maidens we called “daragas” and there were strict codes for courting and marriage. Daragang Magayon, the heroine in this story, was the daughter of Tiong Makusog, the king of Bicol, ruling from Daraga. Both, father and daughter brought peace and love to the region, and the king dotted on his beautiful daughter. Magayon was most sought after by many young men.
One powerful, but not so suitable contender was, Paratuga, the ruler of neighboring Iriga. He was bent on marrying Magayon. He made three attempts to please, and then threaten Makusog into handing his daughter over. Each time he also brought expensive gifts – pearls, gold, precious stones and carvings. Mukusog finally agreed to the proposal.
In the meantime, Magayon, unknown to her father, was in love with a Tagalog lad, Panganoran (many other names have been used for this character), who lived on the other side of the river – some stories state this was Naga. It was taboo for Tagalogs and Bicolanos to marry at that time.
This part of the story always puzzles me, because the Tagalog people actually live many hundreds of miles away to the north, in the Manila region – remember, it took me 12 hours by bus to get from there to Mayon!! Anyway, the Bicolanos and Tagalogs have been habitual rivals, and it does give some pungency to the tragedy.
Panagoran had apparently saved Magayon from drowning in the river some years before, and they kept up secret meetings ever since. Magayon confessed this to her father who accepted her folly but told her she must marry the king of Iriga, because he had agreed to the marriage. Otherwise there would be war. Magayon kept pestering her father saying that she loved Panaganoran, and that she would prefer to die than marry Paratuga. Her father’s heart melted. Paratuga was angered and furious. He kidnapped the father to force the marriage. Magayon had to agree to marry Paratuga to save her father.
The news of the coming marriage spread like wild wife – and believe me, this is real even today - in the form of gossip (which goes by the local term of “tis-mis” - pronounced “chis-miss”). When Panagoran heard this, he gathered his trusted friends, and a bloody battle occurred at the wedding site. He killed Paratuga.
The drama at this point is always vivid as each story-teller, instead of telling the expected happy ending, has to craft the explanation of the coming tragedy. Seeing the victorious Panagoran, Magayon ran to him, thinking all was forgiven and forgotten. As he took her in his arms with love and forgiveness, a stray arrow pierced Magayon’s heart from the back. And then, while she was dying in his arms, someone stabbed Panagoran in the back. This twist has been the crucial point for the legend becoming a moral lesson,
The saddened father buried the lovers together at the spot where they died. Soon, the grave mound began to grow, to the astonishment of all Bicolanos, and it became the perfect cone-shaped volcano that Mayon was.
Till today, when the people of Bicol see the omni-present smoke ring around the top of the mountain, they teasingly say that the lovers are kissing – this makes them happy. When storms come, and there are huge torrents of water flowing down the slopes of Mayon, the poeple say Magayon is crying – and there silence in the towns and barrios. Mothers narrate the Mayon legend at this time.
When Mayon erupts, as it is about to do any day now, they take refuge (although some stubbornly wait till the last minute). It is Paratuga and his army coming back to take revenge, and re-coop the gifts he gave to Magayon’s father. All the boulders, the lava and the ash that Mayon spews, is symbolically seen as the gifts which he gave Magayon, and which he is now re-collecting.
I was there earlier this year, and Mayon looked angry – I could not get to see the damaged peak as thick fog covered it. It is still a perfect cone, but only from one of it’s sides. I never got to see that because that side is difficult to access. I wonder if that will be blown off this time. I will let you know.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fiesta Rondalla 2015

Fiesta Rondalla is the annual concert series of the NUS Rondalla. The latest concert held on 23 January 2015 featured a number of new arrangements by tutors. NUS Rondalla is an extra-curricular activity managed by the NUS Centre for the Arts. 


The activity is managed by 3 Tutors and 1 Musical Director. A student executive committee runs the day to day activity. Each year new students have to be recruited and trained in one semester to perform Fiesta Rondalla. New students have to have music background. They are trained using a heuristic group music method and by the second semester a new rondalla is ready for work on the repertoire for the annual concert. 







 The Fiesta Programme this year featured John Silva as a special guest. John is a Singapore "blues music" singer who leads his own band The Blues Express. He is also a prolific song writer. Two of his compositions will be featured with rondalla accompaniment: KL Blues and Soldier.

You can watch all the items of this concert on video at the links that appear below. All the videos are annotated with information on the screen.
NUS Rondalla 2015


Fiesta Rondalla Video Clips

1. Opening: La Rondalla
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh4UFM3O_SI&feature=youtu.be

2. Instruments of the Rondalla
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0N4WuFBepY&feature=em-upload_owner

3. Lakeside of Baikal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yL2-L1l92_Y

4. Blue Tango
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vawlU4X5Qsg

5. In the Mood for Love
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a4q3P1vUoY

6. Voici Le Mois De Mai
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HihON-qKLLQ

7. El Choclo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IQ5TmS9MKe8

8. Princess Mononoke
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAHLw0eZqcA&feature=youtu.be

9. Forever Young sung by John Silva
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxXVjOFOFeE

10. KL Blues composed and sun by John Silva
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0hvXg4Oh8I

11. Soldier composed and sung by John Silva
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0a8nID9ns30

12. Souvenir De Porto Rico
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSv5vr0Mk8Y&feature=youtu.be

13. Granada
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjkzaSIeHo4&feature=youtu.be

14. Closing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJyvPt0Kz1Y


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Freddie Aguilar in Singapore

Anak - The Untold Story: Illustrated Lecture at the Singapore Management University under the Lien Fung's Colloquim!


 Freddie Aguilar with his Taylor Guitar                                                                                                                                                                                        

                                                                                                                                 
Kirpal Singh and I met Freddie at his new club Ka Freddie at Quezon City to convince him to come to Singapore and talk about the many untold details of his illustrious music career.



Anak is still the single most successful Asian song that went viral in 1978 and maintained its place till now. You can hear the original version here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-n-2lPzH7Do

Many versions came about since then. In Singapore, Ramli Sarip did a Malay version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BrUlVv-IsI

I met Freddie in 1978 while I was studying at the College of Music, University of the Philippines. My trio played in his club Bodega. 




Joe Peters and his East West Trio in Quezon City in 1978
           






           

 Freddie Aguilar, the extraordinary Filipino musician who created the song Anak, a timeless folk song that sustained as an international hit since 1978, gave his illustrated talk on Anak- The Untold Story. on 18 April 2015 at SMU. Freddie charmed the audience with his humour. With his Taylor guitar strapped to his body, as he told his story to an attentive and responsive audience. He ended his talk with a performance of Anak, accompanied by his son Jeriko and the Singapore Tremolo Rondalla. There are 15 segments (on UTube) that covers the entire talk and performance. Anak is still a good music business model for your professional musicians who are trying to make their way in the industry.
If you are in Manila and want to say hello to Freddie and his son Jeriko, you can visit Ka Freddie Restruant and Bar, where Freddie performs. He has other musicians there too - it like a re-creation of his old University Belt club BODEGA - some forty years ago. Ka Freddie is at 120 Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City. 


THE VIDEO CLIPS

1 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Early Life at Isabela LRe

2 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Growing Up in Manila

3 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Leaving Home

4 Freddie Aguilar Talk at SMU: Trying to Make It in Manila

5 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Olongapo City

6 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Olongapo City Making it Finally!

7 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Olongapo The Making of Anak

8 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Anak Brings Father and Son Together LRes

9 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: 1st Metro Manila Music Festival

10 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Loosing and Winning

11 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Performance Preamble

12 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Performance of Anak

13 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Truth about the English version of Anak

14 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: MABUHAY Performed by Singapore Tremolo Rondalla

15 Freddie Aguilar's Talk at SMU: Question and Answer Session




Sunday, September 14, 2014

LORD OF THE RINGS - Performance and Study of the Score

Johan De Meij
In the 1980s I met Johan De Meij (https://www.facebook.com/johan.a.demeij?fref=ts), then an up and coming symphonic band composer and conductor, on one of my visits to WASBE (World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles). He was riding high because of an exceptional music work for band: LORD of the RINGS! It won the top award in 1989 for the Sudler International Prize for Wind Bands and was published by Amstel.
The Amstel Publication of the Score

The First Movement "Gandalf" opening page of the score
I was then encouraging the NUS (National University of Singapore) Symphonic Band to play these types of works in the band literature in their Intempo concert series. They did  that in 1992 and the performance was audio recorded by the EML (Electronic Music Lab). This work was a challenge for the NUS Band because they never performed such a long work that covered the entire first half of the concert.
EML Recording Jacket

Programme Notes
NUS Symphonic Band conducted by Joe Peters

Johan is today a role model for band conductors, entrepreneurs and developers all rolled into one. If you follow his Facebook page, he is still active and central to the high quality in the performances and score publication of European band music. As a tribute to him, I like to present that performance of the work LORD of the RINGs according to the score that was published by Amstel (see above).

Go to this site to listen to the performance of Lord of the Rings By Johan De Meij by the NUS Symphonic Band:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHE-D5XhKkM&feature=em-upload_owner

Lord of the Rings and Timeline Music Commentary at SMU (Singapore Management University)

Between 2000 - 2007 I taught a music elective at the newly established SMU - Music East and West. I had a chance to test some of my music pedagogy ideas within a music laboratory that focused on students deconstructing music works like the Lord of the Rings and doing objective lay-persons commentary directly to the music timeline. Back then much technology had to be configured to enable this. A team of students took up the challenge to do their analysis and timeline music commentary on Johan Di Meij's Lord of the Rings.



Timeline Music Commentary is part of a pedagogy I pursued since the early 1980s because I thought that text, graphics and audio commentary had a role to play in conveying information (by experts or ordinary people) directly at the timeline of the sound. Much of this consolidated during the period I taught at SMU because I was able to build a laboratory to enable this. Today there is TMAL which is software based - refer to my blog article "Timeline Music Annotation Library: 


The SMU students who did this timeline music commentary put in tremendous effort in learning the concepts and techniques of data gathering using the study tracks technology, the sonic orders listening technique and understanding audio editing and studio operations. This is their work which served as their term paper:

Go to this site to listen to the SMU Student's Timeline Music Commentary on LORD of the RINGS:




Thursday, August 14, 2014

Argentine Indigenous Orchestra (AIO) in Singapore

AIO (Argentine Indigenous Orchestra) is a name I gave to  a unique music group from Argentina called  Indigenous Music and New Technologies (in simple translation from Spanish) - a stirling creation of Maestro Alejandro Iglesias Rossi at the National University of Argentina. 



AIO will be performing today in Argentina



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pak Zubir Said and Majulah Singapura

Pak Zubir Said and Majulah Singapura

The National Anthem of Singapore

"It is not a film song. It is not a romantic song……It is a special kind of song….I had to consider the content of the lyrics. It should be in simple language, easy enough to sing and easy enough to understand by all races……know the policy of the government, the social life in Singapore and the wish of the people and how to progress to prosperity.                                                                      Zubir Said quoted His Songs published in 1990 by The Singapore Cultural Foundation. 
This statement is not just the ethos for a nation's anthem but a formula for musical creativity and inclusivity of musical cultures within any independent nation. A nation coming out ,ore than a century of colonialism and trying to unify itself with a diverse tapestry of cultural, political, historical and social identities. 

The story of Singapore's national anthem is one that resulted from collective action but based on one man's creative energy and professional sincerity. When Zubir Said wrote Majulah Singapura he was not a citizen of Singapore. He was rising in the world of film music and was already acknowledged as a song writer. Underlying all this, he had no formal musical training. He was a self-made entity that grew from conviction, resolute purpose to the point of breaking traditional ties with his father in particular, because Zubir heard a call that transcended his Minangkabao homeland in Sumatra. He followed the path of the perineal itinerant musicians who flowed with the developments of the 20th century along the Asian Sea Trade Route. Singapore was an important part of that trade route and it was also a special attraction for such musicians.

(I will be writing two more blogs on the music of Zubir Said to talk about his songs and his music for films)


The First Version of the Singapore Anthem

Majulah Singapura was first written in 1958 for the re-opening of Victoria Theatre after it went though upgrading. Then when Singapore obtained self-government in 1959 it was refined again and made the country's national anthem. This was how it looked in cipta notation in 1959 - the notation of the solmisasi system in music in most of Asia at that time.

There were floppy single based vinyl recordings of that first version using R.M.P 331/3. These old floppies were usually testing single recordings on the market before they were pressed into vinyl records. I suppose some copies were made for the event in 1959. I happened to know someone who had that but who did not want to part with the recording. But I was allowed to make a copy.




The Early Majulah Singapura Recordings
http://youtu.be/GtrZUMrXXS4



Timeline Music Annotation is a new way of writing text and manipulating graphics to sound. I use this in my teaching and archiving. To know more, see the my earlier blog entry:http://thesonicenvironment.blogspot.sg/2014/06/tmal-timeline-music-annotation-library.html

The Annotated Line Score of the Original Majulah Singapura

When the anthem for Singapore as a Republic was established, Majulah Singapura went though a review which finally ended up in eight bars being removed. Musically that was a good move. Culturally, those eight bars also contained musical motifs that leaned on Malay music fundamentals - I explain this in the short video that follow the score below:

Video Excerpts on the removal of the 8 bars

Dr Joe Peters Comments on Singapore National Anthem


The Line Score of the National Anthem of Singapore

This line score is a staff notation version of the cipta notation above. It has been annotated to show the 8 bars that were removed.


Many Versions of Majulah Singapura

There were many different musical groups that performed this Singapore Nationa Anthem. Here are 10 such versions complied into a Timeline Music Annotation format and made into a video. In this format text and graphics can be used to make notes and explanations directly to the sound timeline of any piece opt music. To learn more, refer to the earlier blog on TMAL at this sonic environment blog. TMAL is a music education project of Sonic Asia Music Consultants in Singapore. Currently, a server based operation is being tested. 

http://youtu.be/VIxgy81T0Ek


If you have made versions of the Singapore Anthem, please share when with me as I would like to make a study of musical aspirations in our anthem. There have been calls for change or re-arrangements of the anthem. I have always stood for no change in the anthem = but we can do with different arrangements. You can contact me at the following sites:
Email: sonicasia@singnet.com.sg
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sonicasia
Or at this blog right here.




Monday, June 16, 2014

TMAL - Timeline Music Annotation Library

TMAL (Timeline Music Annotation Library) - An Individualised Music Library System and Documentation Method for Musicologists, Composers, Collectors and Integrated Music Educationists)





Timeline Music Annotation Library (TMAL) is music pedagogy that appends text (script and graphics) and/or audio commentary directly to the sound timeline of the music. This pedagogy was developed within the “Integrated Music Education” R&D project of Sonic Asia Music Consultants in Singapore. 

The software in question, Variations Audio Timeliner 2 (and the more important server version Variations Audio Timeliner 3) is central to TMAL. It is open source software developed by Indiana University (Bloomington) and is part of their Digital Music Library project. Please watch the video below showing how this software was used to deconstruct (level 1) Chopin's Nocturne OP 27 No. 2):


TMAL is a client-to-server systems-integration based on an Indiana University developed open source software (Variations Audio Timeliner 2&3). However, there are many sub-routines that make the server application quite complex and so it is quite impossible for the average musician to manage it without getting into contusion as your collection grows. Variations 2 can be used at the computer (laptop) level while Variations 3 is for applications on the server. Sonic Asia has not altered the software because it does serve TMAL requirements for this stage of application that relates to individuals and individual institutions. What is new is the client-server structure which has been simplified from the original literature as well as some of the original metadata prescriptions for the digital music library project at Indiana University. Sonic Asia had to do this because the experiences of all applying Variations 3 seems to fall of the cliff using the present notes.

Current evidence shows that the original literature to implement Variations Audio Timeliner as a digital music library has not succeeded in having all the features of this software operational at the server level or within the library metadata system. My dealings with two universities in Asia that are implementing the Indiana version show they have had difficulties of different sorts. Both have not completed their projects as of the writing of this blog. The Sonic Asia server engineer and myself have been following up with the listsevr discussions and there too, there is evidence that many others, who are in different stages of implementation, are also showing signs of difficulty. Sonic Asia has also been in touch, a number of times, with the IT staff at Indiana. What we usually get is a one-liner - "you are free to develop this software as you see fit…."

So we have! Indiana University library systems are based on Library of Congress FRBR architecture. This is good for academic communities that are text based and can refer to collateral (audio, other text, graphics, media, blogs, and other databases) from such text  Music despite being exclusively audio based, has followed this same principle of having text as the main purveyor of thought without direct reference to the sound at the point of reading. Somehow, it was never deemed important to address the actual timeline of the sound that musicians (educators, academics, technologists, musicologists, collectors and more) have to deal with. There is no immediate solution to the current way things are done. However, TMAL will try to provide those who want to address text and graphics and other collateral directly to the music timeline and work with them to organise their material into individualised libraries.

Sonic Asia has now structured a dedicated system of servers for audio digitisation, simple upload and laptop (personal computer) to server management to facilitate independent and individualised capability for developing personalised timeline music annotated repository using graphics and text (any language) via the Variations software. There are a set of servers that look after different routines - to store, retrieve and manage resources. These include links for collateral related to such recordings  (text, graphics, audio visuals, animation, blogs etc.) and the ability of individualised clients to do grouping for shared work via a server administrator. TMAL can also be customised to link to pedagogy tools (specialised teaching platforms), collaborative tools (audio/video conferencing, shared screens, etc.), and general teaching platforms belonging to institutions where TMAL is used. 

An Example of how TMAL is being used for Ethnomusicology Research and Library Development

Sonic Asia is working with Thau Yong Music Association (TYAMA) to collect and study recorded works of a very rare Chinese opera form called Waijiang. A special method called Study Tracks with  its own technology and pedagogy, is being used in the documentation routine. In the video  example below the analysis of a sample set of Waijiang music appears as a Variations 2 product. It is taken from the audiorama (the collection that defines aspects or categories of music works) of Waijiang through its library of 35 rare recordings. There is also additional repertoire from their last surviving performing group. A separate blog article will be writing on this later

http://youtu.be/LLEezvuh6mY

Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association

The Thau Yong Amateur Musical Association (TYAMA) was established in 1931 and is one of the oldest organizations in Singapore promoting Waijiang – known collectively through a more modern term as “Teochew Music and Opera” in Singapore. However, these are two distinct entities. Waijiang Opera (外江戏) refers to the collective whole of the music, drama, vocal arts and theatrics of the entire operatic art form in its traditional and pristine form. Also, the music that is part of the opera sequences that do not accompany the vocal arts, is also classified as a separate branch of the Waijiang arts and is called Waijiang Yue (外江乐). The latter can be performed on its own. This has made the entire arts of Waijiang rather dynamic and evolutionary. The art form was (and still is) ambulatory because it moved from its source in China to Asia and much of the music always went through adaptations and improvisations through time. From the early 1800s (era of the Qing Dynasty) Waijiang Yue spread to China’s Eastern Guangdong region and gradually gained popularity with the Teochew dialect population of that region. Other communities there like the Hakkas also adopted the Waijiang arts forms. The Teochews & Hakkas were one of the largest migrant groups into Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. The Teochews and the Hakkas began to establish the Waijiang arts in Singapore from the 19th century up to the 1950s. Waijiang opera was a popular musical pastime for upper to middle class in Singapore. Unfortunately, from the 1960s, this art form declined because another form called Teochew Opera () was popularized through movies and radio programmes. There was a global decline in traditional Waijiang music and opera.

TYAMA, as a performing ensemble, is also currently Singapore's only complete traditional Waijiang music ensemble. TYAMA also does Teochew Opera. The association’s specific mission is to sustain the beauty and intricacies of music and opera from Chaoshan in China where the early Teochew migrants to Singapore came from. TYAMA began with eighteen Teochew immigrants who were steeped in Waijiang music and opera, and wanted to serve the artistic expression and needs of the Teochew community in Singapore, despite of their class. Before they began the association, they spent three years preparing and educating themselves, and then staging the first Waijiang opera at the Great World Amusement Park in Singapore. This performance made a marked impression on the community and also a niche for the Teochew community in the arts circle in Singapore. Since then TYAMA has presented more than 300 operas and music performances in Singapore – which included Waijiang opera, Waijiang yue, Teochew opera and Teochew yue.

The Study Tracks Method



The word “study tracks” comes from the idea of tracks of music:  as in CDs as well as in multi-track recordings. The fundamental idea developed after observing ethnomusicology field work in the Philippines between 1978-1981, where dual track field tape recorders were used for recording the music while informants and researchers jotted down on sheets of paper other relevant (and usually timeline related) musicological and cultural information. An observation was made that both processes could be done via the recorder by doing a mono recording of the music and the other track used for information gathering. Of course, there is need for many other systems configuration in between. 

This idea continued to develop in Singapore in courses that I taught at different institutions, particularly the Singapore Management University where  a digital multi-track recorder was used for tutorial instruction around a table equipped AV capture technology. Students and experts could sit around this table and document verbal information and analysis on a single track of music with many other tracks of information. This technology can be as communicative as technology will allow - linked to conferencing system it enables researchers and students to obtain information from experts who may be far away. It is the accessibility of the expert and the ease of documentation in an assessable way that is at the root of this technology. 

A documentation and library method developed for students in the East West Music course at the Singapore Management University (2000-2007) to create timeline music annotated products as final assignments. It came to be known as the Study Tracks Method. It also led to the building of a Music Laboratory. A separate blog article will be written on this soon.

For the research and documentation of Waijiang, a similar method was used except now Variations played a central role in getting the thoughts of the expert Mr. Yeo How Jiang, understood by informants and translators and collated into multi-audio tracks before being assembled into a commentary script. In the recording above you can hear the music, the expert speaking in his native language an the informants taking with him and a translator speaking in English. This example is part of data collection and will be in the Tayama Audiorama.



Yeo How Jiang (1929 - ) is based in Singapore, and is believed to be the last surviving master of the Chinese pre-revolution Waijiang Music in Asia. Exposed to Waijiang and Teochew music daily from a tender age of 8, How Jiang learnt all the percussion, instruments & singing techniques associated to Waijiang Opera in his youth & also become one of the pioneers of Chinese Orchestral (Huayue) music in Singapore by the age of 40.  Due to the political influence of China’s liberation to all performing arts in & outside of China, Waijiang Music & Opera lost the supply of instructors by 1960s & with the death of existing instructors and other capable artistes in Singapore, currently How Jiang, 84, has become the de facto last master of Waijiang Music in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia & possibly Taiwan & China. To date, he has played instruments, percussion & acted in Huayue, Waijiang & Teochew Opera & music for over 300 performances.

Mr. Yeo is also capable of re-creating much of the old music that was recorded in 78rmps (shellacs) that the association possess using the same Study Tracks Table and recording track by track with the different instruments over the music of these old recordings using the old studio "sound on sound" technique. 


Variations Text Printout
Variations Audio Timeliner can also provide a text print of all that was documented. This text is a complete document containing all the text in all the languages used in the Variations analysis, but with the added codes for locating the timeline as well. It depends how this text is used as it is still early days for developing readable products. However, if one is looking at digital books as an ancillary to Variations then this text format may become very important in making the timeline connections.



Conclusion

Currently, Variations is being used for coursework and database development. For teaching and learning, computer clusters are put into sub-nets so some of the Variations systemic functions can be simulated. Students can also work at the laptop or desktop level, and they are trained how to transfer work between computers and also within the filing systems of their own computers. There are strict rules for this as Variations is essentially sever-based, and has as priority, the protection from piracy of the music it holds. From August 2014 part of the full system will be open for testing with some users - research groups like TYAMA, music collectors, composers, musicologists and for services like simple analysis of music for concert attendees.

Most importantly, Variations-3 is seen by Sonic Asia as a vital technology for music education pedagogy. Music education is the custodian for truing the largest part of the music chain. Sonic Asia believes that timeline music annotation will be the direct way to provide information to young people and allow them to grow by expand the information through web mining and linkages. A seismic change in music education method is necessary. And it does not need to be by the system. Individual teachers can change and develop their TMAL for their specific areas of expertise or interest.


The large cohort of young people in the music education programmes of Asia are avid listeners to the very genres of music that is threatening the sustainability of the traditional and indigenous musical systems in their vicinity. By peer pressure and global youth culture these young listeners are developing their own clairaudience-based skills that include socio-cultural knowledge of the music and musicians and the technologies and techniques involved in their preferred genres. A pedagogy based on delivering information to any work of music on its sound timeline would stand a better chance of taping in on the huge propensity they have for self-developed music cognitive development. With professional assistance timeline music annotation could be used to develop listening skills across musical systems in these young people that would help bring equability between the Western and other musical systems and cultures in all defined territories in Asia.

How do you get an account for TMAL?

Send email to Sonic Asia and say why you want an account and what your interest/work in music is:

sonicasia@singnet.com.sg
Dr. Joe Peters