Tag Archives: music

Filipino All Saints Day 

Background: The informant is a 54 year old man. He was born in Pampanga, Philippines. The informant grew up as Catholic, later converting to evangelical Christianity and becoming a pastor. He was exposed to the tradition by living in the Philippines. 

Context: The context was, calling the informant on the phone and asking him about his religious traditions or experiences.

Text:

PG: All Saints Day, All Saints Day, is November 1st, because trick or trick is October 31

Me: Is All Saints Day kind of like your day of the dead?

PG: Day of the Dead, is like, is like the entire cemetery is full pack is like people goes there they’re like having a celebration you know fiesta is like celebration right? Yeah we fiesta, we piesta, we celebrate, it’s like a party. All saints day, all people goes to the cemetery we don’t do it in the house everyone goes there and all cemetery all over the world is full of people they edo the party there they bring boombox.

Me: You know how on day of the dead people create offriendas, the shrine looking things, do you guys do that”

PG: “Shrine looking thing? No, they just bring flowers and candles and make them lit all day”

Analysis:

Informant: For the informant, he seems very excited about All Saint’s Day and what it entails. It is a celebration of life and death.

Mine: in this celebration, it is significant because it crosses between life and death. There is no boundary to the celebration. Normally, secretaries are associated with dreary activities, but during this holiday, it completely changes the stereotype of it. Everything is lively and it changes the usual opinion on death. Death doesn’t always need to be something to be mourned but can also be celebrated because the person has lived a good long life. Traditions can make someone reexamine the context of something and see it from a new perspective.

Jazz Slang – Band Leader Terminology

Main Piece:

CS (mid-twenties, white male, music degree background, LA resident) and I had a conversation about musicians.

Me: “So can you like explain that phrase, ‘take it to the top?'”

CS: “Take it to the top means to go back to the beginning of the song.”

Me: “That’s it?”

CS: “Well, like, there’s also usually a hand motion too.”

He mimes spinning his hand in a circle in the air.

CS: “When we used to play at bars in New York, I’d have to swing my hand around all wild and scream it out just to get people to hear me. It’s usually energetic like that, ya know? Like when you want to keep the jam [song] going, you take it back to the top.”

Background/Context:

Phrases like this seem to be universal to musicians and are passed on homogeneously by other musicians and music teachers. The emphasis of this saying is returning to the “top,” which references the top of a music sheet where the notes would begin. The only real time that this phrase would appear would be during a live performance or amidst a practice with a band that plays the sort of songs that don’t have a clear run time.

Thoughts:

Jazz definitely serves itself to folk expression because of the collaborative nature of the music. Call outs like this connect the band into a collective consciousness that allows them to move as a uniform organism. The call out to loop the song also greatly relies on reading the audience for when the energy in the room wants the song to continue, versus wanting it to end.

En el Muelles de San Blas- Folk song by Mana

Context:

A is a Mexican immigrant from the state of Nayarit. They heard of this legend when they lived in the city of Tepic, which was about an hour away from where the legend takes place. San Blas is a well-know beach and was frequently visited by A.

The context of this piece was over a dinner when we were discussing future plans to visit Nayarit, specifically which beaches we were going to. A mentioned the legend and showed me the song.

Text:

Uh-uh-uh-uh, uh-uh

Ella despidió a su amor
El partió en un barco en el muelle de San Blas
El juró que volvería
Y empapada en llanto, ella juró que esperaría

Miles de lunas pasaron
Y siempre ella estaba en el muelle, esperando
Muchas tardes se anidaron
Se anidaron en su pelo y en sus labios

Uh-uh-uh-uh, uh-uh

Uh-uh-uh-uh, uh-uh

Llevaba el mismo vestido
Y por si él volviera, no se fuera a equivocar
Los cangrejos le mordían
Su ropaje, su tristeza y su ilusión

Y el tiempo se escurrió
Y sus ojos se le llenaron de amaneceres
Y del mar se enamoró
Y su cuerpo se enraizó en el muelle

, sola en el olvido
(Sola), sola con su espíritu
(Sola), sola con su amor el mar
(Sola), en el muelle de San Blas

Su cabello se blanqueó
Pero ningún barco a su amor le devolvía
Y en el pueblo le decían
Le decían la loca del muelle de San Blas

Y una tarde de abril
La intentaron trasladar al manicomio
Nadie la pudo arrancar
Y del mar nunca jamás la separaron

, sola en el olvido
(Sola), sola con su espíritu
(Sola), sola con su amor el mar
(Sola), en el muelle de San Blas

, sola en el olvido
(Sola), sola con su espíritu
(Sola), sola con el sol y el mar
(Sola), ¡Oh, sola!

Sola en el olvido
(Sola), sola con su espíritu
(Sola), sola con su amor el mar
(Sola), en el muelle de San Blas

Se quedó
Se quedó sola, sola
Se quedó
Se quedó con el sol y con el mar

Se quedó ahí
Se quedó hasta el fin
Se quedó ahí
Se quedó en el muelle de San Blas

Uoh, oh-oh-oh

Sola, sola se quedó
Uoh, oh-oh-oh

// Translation:

Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh, uh-uh

She said goodbye to her love

He left on a boat at the pier in San Blas

He swore he’d come back

And drenched in tears, she swore she’d wait

Thousands of moons passed

And always she stood on the dock, waiting

Many afternoons nested

They nested in her hair and on her lips

Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh, uh-uh

Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh, uh-uh

She wore the same dress

And just in case he came back, he wouldn’t be wrong

The crabs were biting him

Her clothes, her sadness and her illusion

And time slipped away

And her eyes were filled with sunrises

And she fell in love with the sea

And her body took root on the pier

Alone in oblivion

(Alone), alone with her spirit

(Alone), alone with her love for the sea

(Alone), alone on the pier of San Blas

Her hair bleached white

But no ship to her love returned to her

And in the town they called her

They called her the madwoman of the pier of San Blas

And one April afternoon

They tried to transfer her to the asylum

No one could tear her away

And from the sea they never ever separated her

Alone in oblivion

(Alone), alone with her spirit

(Alone), alone with her love for the sea

(Alone), on the pier of San Blas

alone in oblivion

(Alone), alone with her spirit

(Alone), alone with the sun and the sea

(Alone), Oh, alone!

Alone in oblivion

(Alone), alone with her spirit

(Alone), alone with her love the sea

(Alone), on the pier of San Blas

She stayed

She stayed alone, alone

She stayed

She stayed with the sun and the sea

She stayed there

She stayed until the end

She stayed there

He stayed on the pier of San Blas

Uoh, oh-oh-oh-oh

Alone, alone she stayed

Uoh, oh-oh-oh

Analysis:

This text describes the legend of the crazed woman of San Blas. This song was made by the well-known Mexican rock band Mana and is around the folklore of the madwoman of the pier of San Blas. It was said that she was a young and beautiful woman that had fallen in love with a young sailor, possibly a fisherman. The two fell madly in love but their time together was brief as he left once his work was done in Nayarit. His departure was set to be from the shores of San Blas, a popular beach in Nayarit.  Before leaving, he promised he would come back for her and marry her. As the song says, she stood there for a thousand nights and spent the entirety of her life waiting for him to come back. The legend says that the overwhelming feels of sadness, nostalgia, and desperation drove her into madness. It was said that in her state of madness, she began to head to the pier in a wedding gown with a veil and bouquet to wait for her groom to return to her. I found this song especially interesting as it was able to turn a somewhat niche local lore and publicize to the masses. I enjoyed how the band was able to transform the lore into a musical piece that captured the lore’s essence.

Arrorró mi niño

Context:

A is a Mexican immigrant and learned this lullaby from their mother and used it on his children. He now uses it as a lullaby for his grandchildren when they become restless.

The context of this piece was when A was babysitting their grandson and sang this lullaby to put him to sleep.

Text:

Arrorró mi niño,
arrorró mi sol,
arrorró pedazo,
de mi corazón.

Este niño lindo
ya quiere dormir;
háganle la cuna
de rosa y jazmín.

Háganle la cama
en el toronjil,
y en la cabecera
pónganle un jazmín
que con su fragancia
me lo haga dormir.

Arrorró mi niño,
arrorró mi sol,
arrorró pedazo,
de mi corazón.

Esta leche linda
que le traigo aquí,
es para este niño
que se va a dormir.

Arrorró mi niño,
arrorró mi sol,
arrorró pedazo,
de mi corazón.

Este lindo niño
se quiere dormir…
cierra los ojitos
y los vuelve a abrir.

Arrorró mi niño,
arrorró mi sol,
duérmase pedazo,
de mi corazón.

//Translation:

Hush-a-bye my baby
Hush-a-bye my sun
Hush-a-bye oh piece
of my heart.

This pretty child
Wants to sleep already
Make him a cradle
of rose and jasmine.

Make him a bed
On the lemon balm
And at the head
Put jasmine
With its fragrance
To put him to sleep for me.

Hush-a-bye my baby
Hush-a-bye my sun
Hush-a-bye oh piece
of my heart.

This beautiful milk
That I bring him here
Is for this baby
Who is going to sleep.

Hush-a-bye my baby
Hush-a-bye my sun
Hush-a-bye oh piece
of my heart.

This lovely baby
Wants to sleep
He closes his eyes
And opens them again.

Hush-a-bye my baby
Hush-a-bye my sun
Hush-a-bye oh piece
of my heart.

Analysis:

This is a common musical piece that is used throughout the Mexican culture. I had heard this lullaby frequently as a child but I had only heard of a few portions of it so it was nice to hear A recite it in its entirety. This was a learning experience for me as although I thought I had already known about this lullaby but A introduced me to more of it. This made it clear that this lullaby continues to spread throughout the generations. It also suggests that there are variations of the lullaby itself; thus, it demonstrates how musical pieces like this one change to cater to its audience.

Why Conductors Use Batons

Background:

Informant (M) is a student at USC who plays the trumpet.

Main Piece:

M: So the way that conductors used to conduct was like with a big stick, and they used to bang it against the ground to conduct, literally, like for the beats, and someone hit the stick, and it hit his foot, and contracted like, a disease and died from it—

I: Like tetanus?

M: It was probably tetanus, and yeah they stopped doing that.

I: So I guess that’s why they wave it now?

M: I guess, yeah, I think so.

Context:

“That’s also I think something I recall from a story told by my conductor…”

I asked my informant whether she knew of any composer-related folklore, which she couldn’t think of, but did know about this story.

Analysis:

This folk narrative gives explanation as to why a baton, perhaps the most symbolic object tied to conductors, is used in conducting, which is an essential part of any orchestra. As a legend, it is very much based in the real world, with the exact specifics of who this conductor is and what disease they contracted remaining as unknowns. As a simple narrative, this story has been passed down to my informant orally, and the conductor that told my informant this story most likely had a different performance. Since the story deals with conducting, it makes sense that my informant heard it from a conductor. While this story probably isn’t the singular reason why conductors now use batons, the aspect of death would be enough to convince people it is, or at least a primary reason why.