Cultural Evolutions in the Cordillera through Western Beats II

Cultural Evolutions in the Cordillera through Western Beats II

November 29, 2014

“Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.”
-Jawaharlal Nehru

Thriving Western folk and country music in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) have great upshots in the lives of most Cordilleran people before the advent of the 21st century. These are genres of music which majority of Cordilleran populace opt to replace over pop and mellow tunes for musical entertainment which unconsciously and continuously emerge cultural and educational influences to people who absolutely embrace these audio arts. These music’s educational impact are manifested in formal and informal classroom settings where language learning in different techniques occur aside from the recurring cultural behaviors they contribute from day to day acquaintances in a society that encounters diversity of changing norms specifically define by these Western art. These are simple tunes in conventional lines catering to the masses: elite or not. These seemingly appear like poetries that diffuse and recount the real elemental passions of human souls which either convey the mild and the finest experiences. With the appealing popularity of these songs, changes in terms of sociolinguistic behaviors could be viewed among multitudes of the Cordilleran audience who are progressively immersed in aping westerners through the songs they sing and the words they interactively utter. These acquired behaviors are commonly observed as results of regularm exposures to these genres of music. Language learning theories in socio-linguistics could further exemplify these natural occurrences when studied in depth by the pundits.

As a member of the academe born and raised in the Cordillera, folk and country music are perceived as forms of narratives in motion belonging to the literary world. By figuring out most of the lyrics, we find these two types of musical narratives loaded with varied stories containing themes on how lives have been dealt with differently in various angles amongst individuals’ everyday existence. These utilize the power of the English language as a vehicle to disseminate figurative messages in literal indications with literary
devices or elements. These relay expressions of aspirations, experiences, feelings and even outlets for surreal or quixotically inspiring dreams that could be achieved if only there are opportunities. Technically, folk songs are usually played in a single instrument giving emphasis on the lyrics over the utilized musical devices. The likes of James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, Garth Brooks, John Denver, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Simon and Garfunkel’s masterpieces among other contemporaries support this concept. On the other hand, country songs are most often played in unified instruments with drum beats, bass, trebles and tweeters similar to Alabama Band, Bellamy Brothers, Wylon Jennings and other country music bands. Perhaps, the boundary between the two is defined by the set-up and numbers of performers onstage. However, with the surfacing creativity of artists and the entrance of varied new musical players in the entertainment industry with diverse styles, such notions have changed these views. These types of music eventually became mixed up as matter of free expressions while generations change. Whether these are folk and country music, both reveal a common purpose-the reflections of inner thoughts. These are precious knowledge which educators and other professionals in the academe including college students should strive to adhere as interesting subjects on educational inquisitions in language and in the literary world. The Lyrics are richly studded with linguistic materials that maneuver creativity in the process of deriving teaching methods for the attainment of worth absorbing learning outcomes in the classrooms through the principles of obtaining authentic materials for real-world instructions. If done, it is a reflection of evolutionary initiatives among language educators.

Cyber facts search revealed that both folk and country music originated in the story song tradition which are specifically rendered before audience in rural communities .It has been revealed that the common ancestor of folk and country music is the Carter family which ascended its roots from Woody Guthrie to Johnny Cash. Both were depression – era folk artists who made these genre of music famous from rural areas to the cities in North America ( Canada and the United States) till its transmission reached other countries globally by varied situational means.

The manner on how they were introduced in the country are not exactly known till today but the most noteworthy factor for their values is they became a part of the cordilleran cultures. We may not know exactly how they originated in the region but the impacts that elucidate changes are evidently and continuously unfolding. From the mountain city, they continue breaking through up the Cordilleran mountains as they penetrate towards the remotest backwoods delivering the rhythmic arts as emblems of civilization among the region’s cultural minorities. Their rhythms and lyrics serve not only in dances and other entertainment purposes but show a degree of populace’s literacy for they speak and comprehend linguistic details which become remarkable factors in changing language behaviors. Statistics may not absolutely support these claims but these are few of the phenomena evidently observed taking place in an attempt to bridge the effects of these literary genres’ wide occurrences.

We have heard from our parents or grandparents songs like: Clementine (“in a cavern in a cannon excavating for a mine …”), Railroad song (“I’ve been working on the rail road.”) Yellow Rose of Texas (“There’s a yellow rose of Texas that I am going to see…”) Ballad of Green Beret (“Fighting soldiers from the sky. Fearless man … Jump and die.”) (Home on the Range (“…Where the deer and the antelopes play…”) among many pioneering folk songs that have reached the country’s region.

Creatively acculturated language teachers during the early years , spread the popularity of these songs in boy scouts jamborees, workshops or in any gatherings aside from their classroom employment providing interests among school children who as learners carried their awareness from their youths to theirpresent ages marking wide distributions of these pop cultures among Cordilleran families. To add, some people from the lowlands who have been educated and lived or who had been working in the region had some kind of exposures forming their special reasons to admire these auditory arts. They, who have lived for long years have fine thoughts to relay about their music-related experiences and immersions broadening the audiences’ coverage.

Some Cordilleran migrated in the western world particularly in the United States, not to point out that some ventured to other western nations such as parts of Europe like Ireland and England; the Australian territories or even in other parts of North America: Canada where folk and country music also abound, were exposed to these types of music. Some went to the US like Denver, Arizona, Texas, Alabama, Nebraska, Tennessee, Massachusetts and other mountain states where these songs’ roots and popularity could be traced. Listening to these types of music became a common way of Cordilleran immigrants ‘abroad in comforting themselves out nostalgias while away from home. Folk and country music became their day and bedtime companions inspiringly blending to their workplace locations: in the farms, valleys, riverbanks, rolling hills, high mountain ranges, plateau, rocky highways, near cascading waterfalls, gravel deserts and thick woodlands resembling the country sides of their homeland origins-the cordillera.

In the pre-digital age, some sent or brought home: 45 rpm records and 33 rpm, long playing albums to have been played in radio –phono, turntables. Family and relatives in the Cordillera have curiously played these types of music. As a result, neighbors and friends in the village or community were riveted by the songs. The ambiance of music unified with the lyrics and rhythms with the natural scenario in the country sides. Rocky Mountain High or Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver illustrate this assumption. These irresistible songs became popular in the households. Elders started to impersonate the rhythm as they slowly understood the meanings. As a sign of interests, they habitually hum the rhythms or even delivered the lines despite erroneous pronunciations. And to make matters funny and fascinating was that, they exhibited odd dictions but were able to point out the meanings of what they wanted to articulate.

The outspread influences of these continued as time went on. Many ventured to records and cassette business among numerous Ilocano songs that they had originally merchandised in the city. Other Cordilleran provinces followed to operate the same nature of livelihood. Music records or plaka were played in the then popular jukebox till the fads extended to wide range of circulations. To these effects, wide areas of influences yielded till the evolution of cassette tapes to surface.

As technology rises , radio stations that air country music during the 80’s if my memory saves me right, broke new grounds over the airwaves aside from the Voice of America (VOA) radio which could not establish its frequencies in the Cordilleran airwaves and were oftentimes distorted. DZWT, before its DZWR FM took the formats, featured songs in its program aside from its originally played Ilocano compositions of the late Bobby Gutierrez together with his contemporaries. Bombo Radio’s DZWX took its turn a little later to broadcast these types of music. Gradually, these caught the attention of listeners and began regularly requesting songs. These audiences were of varied ages and genders entertained through requests and dedications shows. In rare occasions, competitions were held and some song entries from the cordillera made use of these types of songs aside from other contestants that preferred old mellow and pop music favorites. The proliferation of country music continued through commercial companies who have sponsored broadcasting programs to air music.

Station DZWT initiated another format featuring live performances of local talents rendering folk and country music pieces direct from its studio. Its kilo hertz and megahertz may not have covered a wide area of audience in the region but have captivated many fans who became mechanisms in the arts’ widespread.

In the 80’s and 90’s, the influx was inexorable. Wherever you are, places filled the air with these melodies. Backstreets neither substituted nor drowned the honking and tooting noises of vehicles in the bustling city’s business districts with jukeboxes playing folk and country tunes. Travels to Halsema National Highway currently known as Ninoy Aquino National Highway to to the Mountain Province’s rural areas were characterized as musically engaging for busses were installed with cassette players. Benguet, for instance, had been observed to be popular with these types of music. A bus stop-over alongside the vegetable country roads gives you a chance to listen to jukeboxes in restaurants and canteens playing the hit songs of John Denver’s Country Road Take Me Home; Don Williams’ Lay Down Beside Me or Listen to the Radio ; Brothers Four’s Lemon Tree ; Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence; Neil Young’s Four Strong Winds; James Taylor’s You’ve Got a Friend; Jim Croce’s Time in a Bottle ; Alabama’s A- Team Wheeler ; Lobo’s Stoney; Bellamy Brother’s Inside of my Guitar; Freddie Fender’s Before the Next Teardrops Fall ; Joan Baez’s The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down ; Glenn Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy, and Johnny Cash’s “Ghost Riders In the Sky and others that came in mixed anthological collections.

Back to the city’s common growing scenario, fellows from the Cordillera dramatically began flocking folk houses that commercialized folk and country music listening as a way of relaxation for a break from their heavy labors as vegetable producers and farmers confined most often in the backwoods. They comprised the majority of customers who have close affairs with these foreign beats triggering the operations of more folk dens, country music bars and restaurants. Other groups from the Mountain Provinces rendered their undying admirations, too. Today, Cordilleran country music lovers are known to have pioneered the trends. Their ways of
sporting jeans, boots and the songs that they like to listen and sing are evident. Their musical compositions in expressing their aspirations have remarkable attachment with the popularized music. Some engaged into producing CDs and videos musically scored by popular country songs for livelihood or for leisure. Others in the Cordillera have done their shares of manifesting their interests to these genres that kept unconsciously shaping and diversifying cultures in varied significant and creative ways.

Advents of changes multiplied as years approached the present times. Bars, restaurants and other public entertainment places no longer use jukebox that once featured country music. Technology has altered the old musical device into modern gadgets trending with time. Talents have replaced the old styles. Folk singers adopted new techniques and country music bands were assembled. Players are singing onstage impersonating popular country singers like Collin Raye, Tim Mc Graw, Billy Dean, Billy Ray Cyrus, Dan Seals, Garth Brooks and other contemporary performers- vocalists or bands. The impact proliferated that country music lovers were so closely attached with their idols. They mimic the clothes of their music icons. The sensational western influences are being seen around town. Boots, cowboy’s hats, jeans, leather jackets are displayed as fashions or chic. Many walked with confidence and delights like Lone Star’s band members, Dolly Parton or Randy Travis with rhythmically tapping shoe wears on roads or street pavements regardless of their genders and ages. Music lovers became gaga to these western rhythmic blues.

Names of country music bars danced with the tunes and existing amusement places were named: Fireplace, Country Tavern, Wild West, Wagon Train and Orange County among others, till they slowly transformed to adapt names with the present trends. Local talents toured even the remotest country sides of the region to perform concerts exposing music to those who cannot regularly visit the city due to inaccessibility and time constraints. Take it from the old cliché in the Cordillera- “everyone is going west (gawis) like the U.S. (katekateg ed U.S.). These vernacular expressions seem to agree with the points, my lines wanted to drive at.

Today, the digital age has now become a channel in disseminating music boundlessly in increasing mass patronage. The existence of websites offer abundant downloads of these contemporarily thriving stuffs. Computer breakthroughs participated to play emphasis for the audience to be immersed to country music. These genres of tunes are converted and presented from records, cassettesto Computer disc, USB, hard discs formats. As a consequence, music video of Country Music Televisions (CMT) became available digitally. Even motion pictures are directed with screenplays musically scored by folk and country music in computerized renditions. They are available in information technology’s complex software presentations that are existing in worldwide web markets. The continuous inventions of mobile phone, computer desktops, laptops and tablet brands with the regular updates of their specifications and features had been also made to cater to music listeners. The undying patronage to these music types could be heard through their phone ring tones. Phone, computer, Mp3 & 4 player and tablet users can download and store these in their gadgets which can transfer the metrical staff through Bluetooth from phone to personal computers etc. Radio stations drumbeat the presence of these music which show the reasons why FM radio stations adopt formats of playing the music regularly through changing their consul into modern digital creations. Commercial broadcasting stations operated in Baguio City regularly air folk and country music as one of their regular formatted programs while AM government broadcasting stations in the region participate to broaden the music’s influx to avid listeners. With the emergence of Face book and other social media forms through the internet, similar process of transferring these interests regularly occur. Free downloads of these songs are popular in social media and with the rising of young country stars possessing repertoires of modern styles, youthful fans express their appreciation to performers like Kacey Musgraves, Kip Moore Keith Urban Justine Moore, Josh Thomson, Casey James , Justine Timberlake, and Taylor Swift while the older generations continue to patronize the hits that surfaced during their prime only to be embraced by the next generation due to its thematic contents and contemporarily revived beats.

To these days, Cordilleran citizen continue to exalt this genre. Non-Cordilleran, also gradually appreciate the beauty and depth of these musical pieces attributed by varied factors-their abilities to comprehend the themes, their increasing level of appreciation by marriage to cordilleran fans of the art, educational attainment, jobs and friends yielding continuous changing influences in the community where they are interacting with.

Cordilleran people have gone a long way in terms of experiences out of their proximity to these arts. It is safe then to say that folk and country music in the Cordillera are systematic but “thunderous” catalysts of cultural, linguistic and behavioral transformations as we all head on. Whatever other desirable changes these music genres may offer to the future, remain to be perceived to immortalize its significant presence.


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