The Progressive Scene / POC's Ang Bagong Harana


The following essay is by Joseph R. Atilano, an authority on popular music.

There are many genres, with talented musicians behind them worth our attention. These are genres that have started to enter our consciousness and are receiving more exposure in the mainstream. One of them is Progressive Music.

Progressive Music has always been around even through the dizzying pace of changing trends and bad fads. I was always aware of Progressive Music but I didn’t have as yet a full understanding of the differences and musical characteristics of the said genre back then. It was only when I got to purchase the major label debut cd of FUSEBOXX way back in 2005 that I began to really take interest in Progressive Music.

FUSEBOXX was the grand champion of the Muziklaban competition in 2003 and that was when I first heard of it. However, it was only in 2005 that its cd finally came out and I was really impressed and pleasantly surprised. It was the first of its kind that locally represented Progressive Music very well: it had a superior vocalist with a soaring voice singing lengthy compositions; musical interludes before each song; theatrical elements such as thunder claps and the ticking of clocks — these among others, to help the listeners obtain a clearer visual image of the song. Then there were the influences of classical music reflected by the violin and the piano; and superior technical expertise of the band members being shown on their respective instruments.

Progressive Music tends to veer away from typical subjects like love, but instead draws its subjects from fantasy, folklore and even classical literature. All in all, Progressive Music is quite different from other genres. Listening to music with these aforementioned qualities can really help in developing discerning taste because of its lyrical content which tends to be more sophisticated and intellectual in nature, thus immersing the listener into a more abstract experience.

Sometimes we tend to listen only to music we can immediately understand and which is easily accessible. However, music fans can learn from going out of their “comfort zone”. New listeners to any genre that they are just being introduced to may find it daunting at first, but it really grows on them. Then they begin to appreciate more if they can go beyond the complexities of dissecting each song. Then what they have are really great songs worth listening to over and over again. They should not expect the traditional song structures such as verse-chorus-bridge and the usual length of songs — under the four-minute mark which are two limitations that genre doesn’t abide by. The absence of such limitations is a good thing for it challenges our musical sensibilities.

All in all, Progressive Music has a lot of unique musical characteristics that push the boundaries of music as well as the technical proficiency of the musician. If you are looking for a genre that is pleasing to the ear but not meant for dancing but will help you widen your understanding and develop discerning taste, then this is one genre of music meant for you.

Music really should not have any set of rules; if there were rules, we wouldn’t have such a wide range of genres available because music evolves and changes with time. Just as progressive did, having changed from the decades since it first started in the late sixties, evolving from the sound of psychedelic rock acts and even from the latter songs of the Beatles nearing the end of its career.

FUSEBOXX is a perfect representation of what Progressive Music is all about: it embodies all the strong points of the genre. I believe that in time Progressive Music will reach a wider audience and we will see more bands coming out after the pioneering sound of FUSEBOXX.

When a bond is as dedicated and as talented as the aforementioned, there is then nowhere else for it to go but up. All it needs now is a bigger audience willing to leave behind its own preconceived notions of what music should be and to allow instead the band to let its music speak for itself.

Let’s give Progressive Music a chance to be heard!

* * *

The Philippine Opera Co., with Karla Gutierrez as artistic director, will present “Ang Bagong Harana” — our very own kundiman which, according to over-all director Floy Quintos, will have a new wholistic approach to our own culture and the music that resonates from every region in our country.

Songs will showcase the best by Filipino composers from different music genres: Abelardo, Cayabyab, Santiago, Willy Cruz, A. Molina, R. Umali, G. Canseco, E. Cuenco, J. Estrella, C. de Guzman, F. de Leon, among others.

Singers will be Karla Gutierrez, Aizel Prietos, Charley Magalit, Janine Santos, Marian Santiago, Lawrence Jatayna, Jack Salud, Nazer Salcedo, Marvin Gayramon, Al Gatmaitan, Jurgen Unterberg and Floyd Tena.

“Bagong Harana” will be held from Sept. 29-Oct. 1 at 8 p.m., with a matinee on Oct. 7 at 3:30 p.m. at the RCBC auditorium.












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