MUSIC AND MEDIA IN PARTICULAR PHILIPPINE COMMUNITIES

by: Jose S. Buenconsejo, Ph.D. (UP College of Music)

status: Work in Progress

Abstract

This book deals with the various media by which social worlds are experienced and embodied as meanings. It rethinks all my prior papers and new ones, which are a part of a research trajectory on my long-standing interest in the sensorial medium. This notion of medium is not simply taken to mean as a bearer of information (as dominant communication research paradigms would presuppose what it is), but as a means for or a bodily "stance" through which a socially grounded poetic act, ephemeral it can be, produces what is called "presence." In my earlier work, I had responded to the nature of my research object--ritual song--and came to an interpretation that it is an immediate disclosure of a lived world. After that seminal work, I have continually pursued readings so as to understand existing theories of mediation. Yet, none comes close to the materials I am encountering. Instead, I work from the propositions of Heidegger (concerning technology), Bergson (on matter and memory), Whitehead (on process) and Merleau Ponty (on enactive perception) whose thoughts value the intuitive, participation and praxis, and local epistemologies of knowledge.

 

This book deals with mediation as a drastic or physical process that can be more adequately accounted for as a technology that presences one's experience of the world (cf Heidegger's). In my research on song, I have argued for incarnated spirits (words-made-flesh) as deixis or indices of ritual acts. I had observed the use of the body in mimicry--a prelingual way of indicating relationships with objects that are external to the self--and how performances of the word bespeak embodied perceptions that are grounded to the many ways and possibilities of inhabiting material, social worlds. The spirit medium is not really an empty vessel but a mirror to see these relationships and co-presencing. Given this premise of music as a medium, can this insight be applied to other productions of music presencing? Would it be appropriate to consider music as medium as having a constantly changing essence whose very nature is fluidity to the infinite varieties of social experience?

 

Starting with the  importance of the body in poetics, the book charts related embodiments of music in various multimedia such as the telepresencing in electronic record playback machines, radio, and film. I have published essays on this in local journals, which will be included in this volume. It is not the intent to cover all communication channels nor systemize the complexity of these media. As such, the book necessarily treads on the hazardous space of intersubjectivy and meaning-making.

 

To speak of music as medium is to construe its poetics as driven by forces that are both internal and external to its making. The book will explore various social processes by which the medium as bearer of poetic acts indicates one's experience and attachment to social worlds. In the Philippines, issues on social class, constructions of gender, ethnicity, all come to the fore in the making of signs. To chart how these contextual cues impinge in the production of presences is what the book is about.

Ethnographies of Philippine Auditory Popular Cultures

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