Stories, essays, readings, facts and trivia on Philippine music and the local music industry

Music of the Concert Hall

The Autonomy of Music

This is the music of highly individualized composers who are formally trained in Western-style conservatories or colleges of music. This music is also known as “serious or classical music” (ex. Nicanor Abelardo’s Mutya ng Pasig, Francisco Santiago’s Taga-ilog Symphony, Lucresia Kasilag’s Divertissement for Piano and Orchestra).

Most Westernized Filipinos listen to concert music and are thus the most individualistic. Self-reliance, self-promotion, and specialization are highly encouraged, resulting in a weaker sense of community and greater sense of privacy. Social interactions become more competitive and adversarial. Relationships become more impersonal, formal, and merely functional rather than holistic. Communication tends to be verbal and explicit, particularly through writing. Reflective, critical, analytic, linear, scientific, and dualistic thinking (left brain thinking) are highly valued.

Most intellectual Filipinos usually come from the academe. And it is the academe that largely sustains a Filipino culture of reflection or one devoted to the cultivation of the intellect. Higher institutions of learning, such as the University of Sto. Tomas, the University of the Philippines, University of San Agustin, St. Scholastica’s College, Sta. Isabel College and others, train composers and musicians dedicated to the creation and performance of what is known as serious, concert or classical music. Music becomes autonomous, independent of other human concerns or aspects of everyday life, and is valued almost solely for its aesthetic qualities.

Concert music is appreciated for its own sake. Music is no longer part of everyday life, like putting a baby to sleep, work, healing or rituals. It is cultivated as a separate human activity, has its own space (concert hall, opera house, etc.) and is performed in its own time (for active, concentrated listening). Listening to music becomes a reflective, contemplative or intellectual activity.

Largely influenced by the European and American ideology of art for art’s sake, serious music places much emphasis on the marking of linear time and the idea of formal development through the organization of tonality, harmony, rhythm, and melody. Serious or classical music is either under the light category or heavy category.