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Cool the Planet!

REGARDING MUSIC AND CLIMATE
Monday, October 23, 2006


By Redster

I was surprised when I first heard Parokya ni Edgar's version of the classic Apo Hiking Society classic, Pumapatak na naman ang ulan. It's a song anyone can sing, actually, and yet, apart from private sessions with a clutch of friends and bottles and a guitar, before the tribute album came out only Apo could deliver the song in its intended simplicity without slipping into sappiness or melodic sophistry. Until Chito Miranda and the manic Parokya gang came along, that is, to remake the song into something equally compelling.

The rain is falling again, sings Chito. When I first heard how they rendered the classic I sat down and smiled. It's the old story retold well with Parokya's modulated verve.

That's the thing with good music. A great tune merges with fine words and the distinct sound that sets great bands or musicians apart from the multitude, and you just have to nod your head because everywhere things are OK.

The Apo song reminds me of many things, a good drizzle being a theme that evokes lethargy or introspection or daydreaming. When the rain falls on my solitude, I don't know what else to do now that you're gone, Noel Cabangon sing, in a great bossa nova piece he composed in 1998 called Sa pagpatak ng ulan. Why did it take so long for the song to be included in the albums he has worked on, I asked him one time? The song wasn't quite political, Noel replied somewhat sheepishly, and somehow his answer doesn't feel quite right. As a solitary experience, rain can be quite political -- you wrestle alone with your certainties and your indifference. When a downpour is spent with a group or with someone, it can be positively liberating.

"Make believe we've landed on a desert island, bathe me in the waters, roll me in the moonlight," sings the wonderful Agot Isidro, truly crush ng bayan forever to some. The song's called The Island, one of twelve songs the singer recently put together in a similarly titled album that should make the listener swoon and the weather more humid.

Rainfall, islands, waters. Like good music, the elements give much more than immediate pleasures. We get to take with us memories of the moment and musings of things to come.

But then, what's good music? Well, to each his own, actually. Good music is personal.

I suppose it's easier to say which ones you dislike. Bad music for me is like a hot arid season that overstays its welcome or a summer that seems to take forever to arrive. It can be jarring and disruptive, kinda like Salbakuta playing Bamboo's epic Hallelujah, or Bonnie Raitt singing Barry Manilow.





But what about you? What is "good music" to you? Do you associate rain or quiet islands with any particular song? And yes -- the fun part -- what's your idea of jarring music? Tell me...

posted by Redster @ 11:51 AM,




11 Comments:

At 9:27 PM, Anonymous xLJx said...

When it comes to rain, no other song I know embodies it better than Bonnie Pink's "It's Gonna Rain." Even though I have no idea what the lyrics mean (it's Japanese), the music is excellent, though not entirely melancholic like most other "rain songs" probably are. It's quite jolly, actually. But that's one thing that rain represents for me. The joy of cleansing, a new life and simply fun getting soaked.

Jarring music? Pogi-rock songs.

 
At 11:36 AM, Anonymous anak ng buwan said...

Blind Melon's "No Rain". Simple. Honest. Tugs the heart.

"I just want some one to say to me
I'll always be there when you wake
Ya know I'd like to keep my cheeks dry today
So stay with me and I'll have it made"

 
At 2:59 PM, Anonymous anak ng ulan said...

so what's the worst song about rain that you can think of?

 
At 4:23 PM, Blogger m35b said...

REM's, It's the End of the World as we Know It offers an interesting line:

"Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn - world serves its own needs, don't misserve your own needs. "

 
At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Cristina said...

When it comes to rain, there's one song that particularly affects me as a Galician. It's called 'Chove en Santiago' ('It's Raining In Santiago'). It's a poem originally written by Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca which was recorded by Galician band Luar na Lubre. To me, it means all things beautiful we're losing now here in this incredible corner of the world called Galicia. We used to have a mild climate, abundant rainfall, and especially four clearly distinguised seasons. Now we're getting summer fires followed by terrifying floods, and a never-ending summer accompanied by sharp changes in the weather. So did any of you think that climate change was something of the future and, especially, one of those it'll-never-happen-to-me things? Sorry, mates - climate change has come to town :'-(

 
At 8:41 PM, Anonymous Julian said...

I am a musician by profession so I could not resist adding my opinions to the brew. Good music is very personal, and like anything of beauty, largely in the eye of the beholder. That's the popular view of it.

To the trained musician, there are certain parameters that define what constitues "good" music and also that separate it from pop music, some of which can be best described as a "social phenomenon". That doesn't make it "bad" or anything, just a different thing when examined in the context of the word "music"

That being said, I love the Italian 17th century composer, Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" (Quattro Stagioni) Winter movement. It features plucked violin strings as opposed to bowed, and the very beautiful melody underlaying it. The plucked string sound evokes the sound and image of raindrops falling from the leaves and splashing into puddles and pools of water as the earth noursihes itself in preparation for Spring.

 
At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Julian said...

I am a musician by profession so I could not resist adding my opinions to the brew. Good music is very personal, and like anything of beauty, largely in the eye of the beholder. That's the popular view of it.

To the trained musician, there are certain parameters that define what constitues "good" music and also that separate it from pop music, some of which can be best described as a "social phenomenon". That doesn't make it "bad" or anything, just a different thing when examined in the context of the word "music"

That being said, I love the Italian 17th century composer, Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" (Quattro Stagioni) Winter movement. It features plucked violin strings as opposed to bowed, and the very beautiful melody underlaying it. The plucked string sound evokes the sound and image of raindrops falling from the leaves and splashing into puddles and pools of water as the earth nourishes itself in preparation for Spring.

 
At 10:50 AM, Blogger que sara sara said...

Hi Red, is the UN summit there because Kenya lies the middle of the equator? :) its good that the world is listening now and making it a global priority.

here is a song that makes me feel the wrath of climate change and sends a message to those who refuse to see. Kansas' Dust in the Wind:

Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind
Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do, crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see

Don't hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away, all your money won't another minute buy

(doesn't this song make you imagine a burning BUSH in the desert, alone?)

Also, Imago's Rainsong is sung invertedly as a chant but the writer meant this:

Look Away. See It Coming.
Gray Skies. Gray Skies.
See It Coming. Cool My Fire

 
At 2:46 AM, Blogger Max-Hima said...

Red! You in Nairobi!! wow, I really hope to hear more from you about Nairobi (I mean the negotiation and other things too.)

Speaking of rain, desertification, Africa, I would like to add a little note from my very recent experience in Engadin, Switzerland. As is highly recommended by a friend, I took a few days off to roam in the mountains of Engadin and surely one stop will be the glaciers. To me glaciers are the slow and (a bit frozen) gestures of time, of nature and force, they bring the water of life. And the sight of a major glacier in Morterasch is simply overwhelming.

After a few miles of pleasant mountain walking, after being coaxed more and more by revealing glaciers, the real thing arrived like a punch in the face!
The remaining glacier is visibly thin and short and bleak, and the edge of it --what we called the ice tongue, is like melted icecream, dirty with moraine. oh my god! what the F***! (as Red himself would exclaim at such a scene..)

From Alps, to the Himalayas, to Patagonia,, to Greenland and at last to the polar regions, we don't have that much left...

I don't understand, really don't, how could the politicians still turn blind to the dire and menacing future that is sinisterly promised by climate change???!!

Will there be some climate victims to appear in teh conference? I truly wish the voices of the hushed could be heard on such occasions where decisions are made for the world, the vast majority of the innocent and suppressed, in one way or another.

I wish Nairobi the best luck!
Because we really can't wait.

 
At 12:58 PM, Blogger COOL THE PLANET said...

Julian -- hey, can we have more of your thoughts on music and climate? As a musician, how would you describe the different treatment that 'dawn' and 'dusk' would evoke, even though each involves the sun? What about wind? There's a lot of genres vying for the representation of a good breeze, such as bossa nova. Any more thoughts on these? Quattro stagioni evokes also the rhythmic cycles -- predictability -- which is in a way what is under threat with climate change. Who would be the composer whose work would best represent the simulation of chaos, which can be anything from storms to a tree shedding en masse its leaves?

Sarah Q! hey! The UN meeting is probably in Kenya because Africa represents one of the most vulnerable ecosystems and populations. Am not too sure about governments prioritizing climate change -- everyone else seems to be thinking of fixing the problem but plenty (not all) of government negotiators in the Kyoto conference are all looking out for their country's (whoever their current govt is probably!) short-term economic self-interest... We're at this moment of awareness only because people have increasingly been making their voices heard.

Goodness, I didn't notice that passage from Imago. I love their music for many obvious reasons so now you've added one more. Balik ka uli!

redster

 
At 9:28 PM, Blogger The Kamuning Republic said...

Moxie, hey hey! I received some photos from a cat a while back who cycled across a mountain in Swissyland. Can I post them here? Come back soon. Send us a picture of the sky there -- find a nice cloud!

Hugs from here.

 

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