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Maceda’s music, UPCE’s 16 years

Jose Maceda photo courtesy of

(July 5)—"If you want to honor me, listen to my music.”

This was how National Artist for Music José Maceda wanted to be remembered. 

To honor the musical genius, the UP Center for Ethnomusicology (UPCE) mounted the exhibit, “Maceda Projects 2013: Listen to my Music (“Listen to my Music”),” a sound and vision exhibition on the legacy of Maceda at the Vargas Museum.

The exhibit, which opened on June 25 is also in celebration of the Center’s 16th year.

Maceda created 23 compositions and is best known for Pagsamba (1968), a music for Catholic mass held in a round church, Cassettes 100 (1971) and Ugnayan (1974). 

The UPCE described Maceda as a composer, ethnomusicologist, pianist and scholar. He was declared the National Artist for Music in 1997. Born on January 31, 1917, he died on May 5, 2004.

Maceda is the “musical visionary who unraveled the inner philosophies imbedded in the musical traditions of village cultures in the Philippines and who expressed fresh theories and concepts through his unique creative expressions,” UPCE Executive Director Ramón P. Santos said.

Maceda was UPCE’s founder. 

His influence may have long been recognized, but, according to UPCE, “the multi-and inter-disciplinarity of his practice and teaching has not been fully explored as material in creating, critiquing and deconstructing contemporary scholarships and creations beyond the realm of music.”

Thus, according to Santos, “Listen to my Music”reveals the deeper meanings of Maceda’s sound structures vis-à-vis the sounds and music of other artists. 

The exhibit opening at the Vargas Museum.

“It also shows the multi-disciplinarity of his musical vision through the use of different media in exposing the profundity of his musical ideas,” he said.

The exhibit is sectioned according to the National Artist’s contributions in academia as a composer, teacher, researcher and a culture visionary. 

Exhibit curator Dayang Yraola on her “Reflection” wrote, instead of focusing on “who” Maceda was, the exhibit focused on his “‘what’—his creations, his connections with other composers, his confluence with contemporary artists and technologists and the contexts of his ideas.”

Creation: Under the Creation gallery, “Listen to my Music” featured the 20 mono audio tracks from Ugnayan in 1974, the do-it-yourself transmitters used at the Ugnayan restaging in 2010, a facsimile of the Cassettes 100 score; a viewing/listening station replaying scores and audio of 12 of Maceda’s 23 compositions, and a viewing station featuring video documentations of Egay Navarro and Rica Concepcion of Maceda in action, during rehearsal or performance. 

Connection:  As a teacher, Maceda served as inspiration to a good number of the country’s acclaimed composers.  Among these composers were professors Ramón Santos and Jonas Baes of the College of Music (CM) Department of Composition and Theory and Prof. Verne dela Peña of the Department of Musicology. 

The Confluence Gallery, first subsection which
feature compositions of contemporary sound
artists that distill their research based
on the Maceda materials.

The Connection gallery presented a comparative analysis of Maceda’s work and the works of Santos, Baes and Dela Peña. 

UPCE said “this analysis offers possible readings on the many layers of their music as a group of complex creations drawn from common roots.  Santos compared his orchestral composition L’Bad (2008) to Maceda’s Exchanges: Music for Chamber Orchestra (1997); Baes compared his Basbasan (1983) to Maceda’s Pagsamba (1968); and Dela Peña compared his Nyuma (1983)with Maceda’s Aroding (1981).  Works featured here are strongly related with each other by inspiration, form, style.”

Context:  The Context gallery featured photographs, audio field recordings, field notes of the researchers and other research paraphernalia.  The gallery stressed the science behind Maceda’s creative and academic productions through ethnomusicology. 

Mounted on the gallery were poster presentations of old tape recorders Maceda and his team used during field research from the 1960s to the 1980s, and the actual tape recorders.  There was also a cross-referenced sampling of audio field recordings, photographs and field notes from 20 ethno-linguistic groups.

Confluence:  Meanwhile, the Confluence gallery presented the relationship with projects that were beyond traditional music/musicology.  This was divided into three subsections. 

30 Sounds in a Filing Cabinet, a work by Tengal

The first subsection featured compositions of contemporary sound artists that distill their research based on the Maceda materials in the UPCE archives.  The exhibiting artists were Erick Calilan, Tengal Drilon, Tad Ermitano, Jing Garcia, Paolo Garcia, Cris Garcimo, Malek Lopez, Armi Millare, Arvin Nogueras (Caliph8) and Jon Romero.

For the second subsection, electronic and digital manipulation of ethnic instruments and sounds done by CM’s Ma. Christine Muyco, Ph.D. were featured.  

Finally, projects done by the Digital Signal Laboratory of the College of Engineering (DSP-EEE) under Dr. Rowena Guevara’s supervision were featured at the third subsection.

At the exhibit opening, Maceda’s 1990 composition, “Dissemination,” was performed by five flutes, five violins, five oboes, five horns, three celli, two contrabass, one gong and two whistles under the baton of Prof. Josefino Chino Toledo.

An old recorder used by Maceda and his team
during researches.

“Listen to my Music” is the second installment of the Maceda Projects, launched in 2012, to “promote the legacies of National Artist for Music José Monserrat Maceda, Ph.D. as a composer, a teacher, a pianist, an ethnomusicologist and a philosopher.” The exhibit’s title is inspired by Maceda’s words, “The man behind the music does not matter.  If you want to honor me, listen to my music.”

The exhibit runs until July 26.—MDJ