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Filipino Music and the Filipino Identity

Just what is Filipino music and how different or similar is this music to the music of its Asian neighbors?

Just like the culture and the dances in the country, the music in the archipelago is a mixture of many influences- these are the influences of European and American sounds plus fused with the indigenous musical sounds. And since the country has been under the Spanish rule for more than 300 years, then it can be expected as well that the influences of the Spanish culture and music is far-reaching too. The music of the Philippines as people knows it today come in many types and many forms.

And the following are the many forms of musical instrument and music that is distinctly Filipino;

. Kulintang. This is a musical instrument that was played primarily in the southern part of the country. To be more precise, the so-called kulintang is a 5-12 racked gong chime. Aside from the fact that this instrument is used and played in the southern parts of the country, the kulintang can be seen played as well in many Southeast Asian countries like in Borneo, Malaysia, Timor and Indonesia.

. Kundiman. Here is one song style that forms part of the Filipino identity. And when people and historians talk about the music and the songs of the Philippines, then the term kundiman will always come into the discussion. Simply put, the kundiman is that lyrical song style that dates back to the time of the Spanish colonizers. This song style is crafted in the Spanish-Mexican tradition and the Kundiman is characterized by the use of the minor key at the start of the song and then this will shift to the use of the major key at the second half of the song. The 'kundiman' is known for the use of the romantic themes in the songs and the theme will usually focus on love, passion and sadness. And in some cases, the 'kundiman' is also based on topics about love stories. This has become a mainstream musical style and this happened in the 1920s with Diomedes Maturan leading the charge.

. The music in the Philippines will be associated too to the Cariñosa. This is a Philippine dance wherein the female dancer makes use of a fan and a handkerchief and the dancer dances in a romantic setting.

Philippine music will also have its own share of the choral music. The choral music of the country is an award-winning one, thanks to the Philippine Madrigal Singers. The Philippine Madrigal Singers competes in international competitions and the group is considered as the premier force in the Philippine music scene when it comes to choral music. This is also the only chorale group that has won twice the prestigious European Grand Prix for Choral Singing and this happened in 1997 and in 2007.

The University of the Philippines Singing Ambassadors and the Concert Chorus are also known for their prowess in choral music. When people talk about Philippine music then for sure the attention will shift to the OPM or the original Pilipino Music. This term was first used to the pop songs of the country that was popularized in the 1970s until the mid-1990s.

The OPM icons of the country during those two decades include;

. Ryan Cayabyab
. Kuh Ledesma
. Zsa Zsa Padilla
. Martin Nievera
. Basil Valdez
. Rey Valera
. Apo Hiking Society
. Lea Salonga
. Ogie Alcasid
. Jamie Rivera
. Sharon Cuneta
. Joey Albert and few more artists

By 1990s, a number of bands have joined the lists and some of the OPM bands to hit it big include Neocolors, Side A, True Faith, Freestyle. Their songs can be in Filipino and some may incorporate the English language. Music in the country is not just limited to Filipino songs, rather music in the country are now available in many other dialects.

There is also rock in the Philippine music and the rock bands in the country started to show force in the early 1990s and this is alive and well up to this time. The 1970s was also an important decade for the rock music of the Filipino music.

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