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Filipino Diatonic Harp CHAPTER 2

2.1 Historical Analysis

The brief harp history in this chapter is given basically as a reference to familiarize the reader with various extant harp models. A short structural description of the harp , taken from The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments is given below.

Normally triangular in shape, all harps have three basic structural components: resonator, neck and strings. Hornbostel and Sachs divided them into two categories: 'frame harps' and 'open harps'. Frame harps have a forepillar or column which connects the lower end of the resonator to the neck, adding structural support and helping to bear the strain of string tension. Harp without forepillars are 'open harps'. Only European harps and their descendants are consistently frame harps, most other are open. Hornbostel and Sachs further sub-divided open harps into two sub-categories: 'arched' and 'angular' harps. According to Hornbostel and Sachs, the neck of an arched harp curves away from the resonator while the neck of an angular harp makes a sharp angle with it. (Sadie 1980:v2:131)

The frame harp, which includes Filipino, Latin American, and European harp, is also angular in its sub-classification, its original structure adapted from an open angular harp design with the later addition of the rigid forepillar. Early frame harps have iconic representation in visual arts of the British Isles and Europe dating at least from the 10th century B.C., typically displayed as the instrument played by the Biblical King David or by angels.

One example of an open arched harp is the Burmese Harp (the saung-gauk), believed to be originally of Indian ancestry. This structural type is sometimes referred to as a boat harp. Both angular and arched open harp genres exist as indigenous instruments in Africa as well. Ancient evidence of both the open angular and open arched harps' existence is manifest in Egyptian art dating more than a thousand years before Christ. In Asia, open angular harps are evinced in the kung hou and kugo, of China and Japan respectively. These evolved from use in ancient court ensembles with the prototype most likely introduced into China from India or by the Silk Route. Asian harps, however, do not appear to have had any influence upon harps in the Philippines.

A few different frame harp varieties appear in Europe, at least, by the 16th and 17th centuries. Important harp types in this context are the Renaissance, Clairsach or Bardic (Ireland and Scotland), Welsh and Spanish harps. The Renaissance harp, at times referred to as the Gothic harp, is in a way structurally related to the Clairsach harp. Both of these harp models have trapezoidal, narrow depth, and fairly rectangular shaped resonator boxes. The Clairsach harp differs from later Irish harp taxonomy because of structural changes made during the early 19th century by revivalist harp maker John Egan. (Sadie 1986:138; Rensch 1969:80) Egan reshaped the newer Irish harp by constructing a rounded resonator box, but kept the curved forepillar distinctive of the Clairsach. A historical analysis by John Schechter below defines a classification of a Spanish harp prototype, significant in this research because of its link to Latin American and finally Filipino harps.

The other main type had a resonator with a ribbed back [staved], a flat soundboard, and a straight forepillar in either low-or high-headed form. Most of the later single-strung Welsh harps are of this type. Although a low-headed form became the predominant type in Latin America a few

European examples have been preserved and its early history is difficult to ascertain. It seems to have been derived from Mediterranean (not northern) sources and may have been a byproduct of early triple harps. (Sadie 1984:139)

Triple harps are believed to have origins in Italy before becoming popular in Wales. Harp, as early as the 10th century, was a highly esteemed musical instrument, used in both sacred and secular music in Europe, Ireland, and the British Isles. By the 16th century harp was regarded by many as the tool of itinerant blind musicians. However, in Europe, later in the same century the harp's traditionally high status was reestablished. (Gerald 1968:v4:708) The double harp or double rank chromatic harp, in all probability, helped to create this revival. (Schechter 1992:23-25) Cabezon's important monument for keyboard, harp, and vihuela as well as similar works by Bermundo and Henestrosa provide evidence that these respective musical treatises pertain especially to the double harp. (Livermore 1972:66, Rensch 1969:76) The chromatic nature of the musical manuscripts indicates the use of a non-diatonic harp. Gilbert Chase believes that the inclusion of the single-rank harp in the treatise by Cabezon occurred only because of the harp's elevated status at the time. (Chase 1959:329; Schechter 1992:25) No historical reference was found concerning the existence of chromatic harp usage in the Philippines. In a contemporary context, there is no evidence of full chromatic harp tunings used in the Philippines, though evidence of altered (from diatonic) tunings was found during this Filipino harp research.

It was common for instruments to double vocal parts during 15th and 16th century performances of Western sacred music. (Jeppesen 1970:54) Instrumental ensembles accompanied vocal music written by Palestrina, Morales and others in 16th century Catalonian cathedrals and music chapels of Spain. (Gerald 1968:409; Schechter 1992:26)

It was not usual to orchestrate most music, sacred or secular, a player did not hesitate to double a singing voice or substitute for it. The doubling instruments were the viol, harp, lute, and portave organ. They undoubtedly often continued during interludes while singers paused. (Reese 1954: 36)

Harp players enjoyed high status in secular settings. Chase relates the story of seventeen-year-old Isabela Coello, who in 1552 "astonished the court by her virtuosity on the clavier, harp, viol, and every manner of instrument then in vogue." (Chase 1959:55)

Musical instrument making in Spain was very important. In Seville (1502) and in Granada (1528) cedulas (royal orders) commanded all makers of musical instruments to display a "harpsichord, lute, bowed and plucked vihuelas and a harp" as requirements of their craft. (Sadie 1984)

Two distinct styles of harp playing evolved in Renaissance Spain: "one, boisterous, in the streets; the other, intimate, domestic." (Schechter 1992:21) The street genre used a small portable harp related to medieval jongleur tradition while a larger harp with more strings was the stationary domestic model. This "domestic" harp could be used as a solo or an

ensemble instrument and also accompanied voice. (Schechter 1992:21) Both small and large harp types were found in the Philippines, and historical evidence show that both "domestic" and "street" styles of harp playing also existed there as well. Whether these Spanish idioms influenced similar related genres in the Philippines is purely speculative.

The most common pictoral example given by historians of a Spanish harp is Francisco de Zurbaran's (1598-1664) "The Adoration of the Shepherds" (1638-1639). The painting shows a single rank non-pedal (diatonic) harp played by an angel. (Rensch 1969:plate 25) Filipino and Latin American harp models appear to have enough similarity to the angel's instrument depicted in the painting to show a structural relationship. Therefore, it is this Southern European or Spanish prototype that is fundamental to this Filipino Hispanic harp research.

James Talbot (1665-1708) describes a Spanish harp and notes a ribbed (staved) back, and "generally" 33 strings.

Its Belly generally Cullen Cleft scooped in roundish form, without Barrs, is therefore somewhat thicker than others. Bow (trun'd) and Head of Wallnut as is the Back whose 7 ribs single. On each side of Belly 3 Knots lessening upwards. In the Head Brass pins, their number generally 33. Head lower and shorter than others.... Strings 33 gutt single running by several rows---sometimes half notes are added whose Pins are plac'd above and between the others (thus .....). (Rimmer 1963:67-68; Schechter 1992:28)

Many aspects of Spanish culture and artifact were transferred to the New World with its "discovery" and conquest. The harp took its place in colonized areas early on in this conquest.



The diatonic harp is at this time widespread throughout Latin America. The harp is "known to have been brought to the New World from Spain with the first conquistadors, and later with lay colonists and various missionary orders." (Sadie 1986:152; Schechter 1992:30)

Instrument makers had to show proof of their abilities to construct harps as well as other types of string and keyboard instruments in Mexico City by 1558 (as they were in Spain previously). (Sadie 1986:197; Schechter 1992:31) Rensch notes that it was the Spanish harp of the European Baroque era that served as a model for local craftsmen in Mexico, Venezuela, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador and other Latin American areas. (Rensch 1969:77) The existence of locally crafted, export quality harps on Paraguayan reducciones by the late 17th century shows the extent of harp dispersal into South America early in the initial Spanish conquest. Livermore illustrates the high status of the harp that transferred from Spain to Latin America in the quotation below.

Viceregal balls set the entertainment pattern for colonial society. They opened with formal dances as performed in Madrid; with the Bourbons on the throne French styles were emphasised; then as time passed, these formalities attached to the evening's first hours gradually gave way to criollo dances set to livelier measures which still showed their links to older forms which graced previous functions. Harp and guitar were early used in consort with violins... (Livermore 1972:223)


In 1532 a school created by Franciscans in Mexico City taught plainchant and instrument making. (Sadie 1980:v12:226) It is believed that dissemination of the harp throughout much of Latin America was promulgated primarily through evangelizing Catholic missionaries. The Jesuits, for instance, trained indigenous musicians in Bolivia, Paraguay, Pampas Brazil, lower Amazon Atlantic coast, Paraguay-Argentina and Ecuador. (Schechter 1992:97)

Indian ensembles were active in travel with missionaries to various neighboring tribes of an area. Certain Jesuit missionaries, notably those from Austria and Germany, were themselves excellent violinists, and they particularly favored the harp as well. Indeed, the combination of violin and harp was a preferred indigenous duo among the Jesuits. (Schechter 1992:97)

Children, returning to pueblos after their education would sing, play harp, violins, and other instruments, helping priests in local church services and when priests went to outlying indigenous areas. (Schechter 1992:35) Musicians in service to the Church did not pay the mandatory government tribute required by law. This factor helped in the proliferation of native harpists (and other musicians) in Latin American areas. (Schechter 1992:31) Indian instrumentalists were entered on cathedral payrolls as early as 1543. (Behague 1979:5) In fact, so many harpists competed that by 1555 the Primer Concilio Mexicano placed restrictions on the "expansion of the religious musical enterprise." (Schechter 1992:31)

"The most important instruments used in the Peruvian church were the harp, organ, and bass viol." (Behague 1979:20) Wind instruments were of secondary importance. From 1633 until 1815 harpists were employed in the Lima Cathedral in Peru, exemplifying the importance of the harp in the service to the Catholic Church until the 19th century.

With Magellan's "discovery" and Spanish annexation of the Philippine Islands a new colonial movement ensued. Because of the logistic difficulty for the Spanish to initiate trade directly from Spain to the Philipines, Latin America became the intermediary point of departure for Spanish colonists and trade with the East.


2.2.1 Galleon Trade

The galleon trade between Acapulco, Mexico and the Philippines was the most important source for material and cultural dissemination from Hispanic areas to the Philippines from 1565 until 1815. (Guzman-Rivas 1960: 315) With the galleon trade, priests, administrators, soldiers, and a very few Spaniards of other professions made their way to the Philippine Islands. Although the numbers were small, Hispanic influence was substantial.

...They were craftsmen who made bejuquillos, petates, hats, rugs, and mats; they were mechanics, puppeteers, jewelers, powder makers, casters of swivel guns, cannons, and bells; gunsmiths, musicians, singers, harpists, and violinists; makers of guitars, flutes, violins, and harps. (Guzman-Rivas 1960:180-181)

Veracruz, Mexico was the initial gateway for incoming trade from Spain. The modern Veracruzan harp (arpa jarocha), used in the North Mexican jarocho ensemble, shows a close similarity in design to Philippine harp and may eventually prove a link to a prototype evolved in the Philippines.



2.3 Filipino HARP HISTORY

No information found during this research proves any one harp made in Spain or in Latin America, for that matter, actually arrived in the Philippines on any definite date. Lack of data underlines the uncertainties as to how, exactly, the harp came into the Philippines. It is plausible, that harps made either in Spain or Latin America were transferred to the Philippines by galleon, or (more likely) harp production took place in the Philippines utilizing indigenous materials crafted by Hispanic immigrants, and then soon after by Filipino craftsmen. Spanish conquistadors used Filipinos aboard their ships and for other sources of labor beginning in the mid-16th century. Numbers of Filipino galleon servants were known to have jumped ship in Mexico, making their livelihood there, but it is doubtful that any learned harp making skills and then returned to the Philippines. (Guzman-Rivas 1960)

References pertaining specifically to music, found (so far) for the Philippines before 1600, show no specific documentation concerning the harp. This does not necessarily mean that harps did not exist there in the 16th century. The Augustinians founded the Manila Cathedral in 1577 and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) founded the College of La Conception under Fr. Sedeno in 1582. (Blair and Robertson:v36:208-209) The harp may well have been included in religious instruction. One of the earliest documentations of specific harp usage in the Philippines is an observation chronicler Antonio De Morga relates in his Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, published in the year 1609.


At the same time that the religious undertook to teach the natives precepts of religion, they labored to instruct them in matters of their own improvement, and established schools for the reading and writing of Spanish among the boys. They taught them to serve in the church, to sing the plain-song, and to the accompaniment of the organ; to play the flute to dance, and to sing; and to play the harp, guitar, and other instruments. In this they show very great adaptability, especially about Manila; where there are many fine choirs and chanters and musicians composed of natives, who are skilful and have good voices. (Blair and Robertson:v16:152; Morga 1609:300)

This reference (above) may well express Catholic Church musical education before 1600, including harp use, but it lacks yearly explication. In 1601 Augustinians started the first Church orchestra in Guadalupe near Manila. Whether harp was among the principal instruments used is based only upon presumption. In Laguna, on Luzon Franciscans initiated a school for boys in 1607, possibly similar to the school started by the same order in Mexico in the 1550's. Among the subjects taught were singing, and the playing and manufacture of musical instruments. (Espina 1961:212-3)

Espina relates observations about a Manila based religious fiesta celebrating the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary in 1619.

The celebration was characterized by a morning Mass at the Cathedral, singing, playing on instruments, religious dramas, and parades. According to various reports there were about a thousand instruments participating in the grand fiesta. Some of the floats of the Jesuit colleges carried Filipino musicians: singers, performing motets and ballads, and players on the clarion, harp, guitars, rebecks, and other instruments. (Espina 1961:212-213)

In Manila, the Jesuit college of San Jose was the first Spanish college to confer degrees in theology, commissioned in 1601 by order of Phillip IV. (Costa 1961:59) While Costa in his Jesuit history does not reference musical instrument instruction, he does note that music was one of the subjects taught at the college. One unreferenced source states that instrumental ensembles began in churches under the direction of priests, Fr. Juan de Towres in Nuestra Senora De Guadalupe (1643) and Fr. Toribio Varas in the St. Augustine Church in 1871. (Roces 1978:2500) George Younghusband in an 1899 publication relates an interesting (undocumented) tale of an early 17th century Religious experience.

In the year 1626, three Spanish Priests who were returning to Ilocos, were blown by a storm to the coasts of China. They survived their hardships and sufferings with the help of an Ilocano Maestro de Capilla who managed to earn enough sustenance for the group with his playing of the harp and the guitar. (Younghusband 1899:423)

Church choirs developed by the Catholics, especially the Jesuits in 17th century Manila, used liturgical music composed by Morales (1500-1553), Cabezon (1510-1566) or others of similar stature. (Espina 1961:208) Inasmuch as in Europe and Latin America during the 17th and 18th centuries, continuo instruments accompanied and doubled voices in church services; the Philippines, it is presumed, was no different in this respect. Adding to this hypothesis, harp in the continuo was more likely seen in the Manila area than anywhere else, since this was the center of political and religious activity for Spaniards in the Philippines. Many small missions and municipalities, however, had instrumental music in their church services.

In every village there is a musical choir, of both instruments and voices, by means of which the festival and solemn days, and divine worship, are at least decently celebrated; and in some places there are excellent instruments and voices. Moreover, all these singers understand harmony (solfa), a thing which has not its like in all Christendom. Every Saturday and Sunday, prime is sung in the choir. (Velarde 1749; Blair and Robertson 1903-1909:v44:112)

Jesuit priest Murillo Velarde, this time in a 1755 essay, gives an account of Filipino craftsmanship and instrument playing.

Los hombres son trabajadores y buenos Artifices: son excelentes Pintores, Plateros, y Escultores. Los mas distinguidos, principalmente si han vivido en la casa los Misioneros, tocan muy bien la harpa, el violin, y otro instrumento musicos, y con honra, y gusto dedican sus talentos a la celebridad del servico Divino. (Velarde 1755:70; Mantaring 1983:41-42)

The men are rumored to be hardworking craftsmen: They are excellent painters, silversmiths, and sculptors. The most distinguished, principally if they have lived in the house the Missionaries, play the harp, the violin, and other musical instruments very well, and with honor and taste. They dedicate their talents to the celebration of the divine service.

Another 18th century reference found in a 1752 work titled Geographia Historica de las Islas Philipinas, de Africa, y de sus Islas Adyacentes mentions the popularity of European musical instruments and the ease in which Filipinos could learn by imitation.

Tienen notable habilidad para la Musica: no hay Pueblo, aunque sea corto, que no tenga una Musica muy decente de Instrumentos, y voces para oficiar en la Iglesia, y todos sabe solfa. Hay excelentes voces de altos, tenores, y Bajos, y especialmente de Tiples. Raro es el Indio, que cerca de Manila no sabe Harpa; y hay muchos , excelentes Violinistas, abuistas, y flautistas de varios generos. Por la facilidad, que tienen el enten dimiento en los ojos, pues quanto ven, tanto imitan. (Mantaring 1983:270)

They have notable musical ability: there are no pueblos, even small ones, that do not have many decent instruments for music, and singers in the church all understand solfeggio. There are excellent voices, altos, tenors, basses, and especially sopranos. Rare is there an Indian [native] living near Manila that does not know the harp; and there are many excellent violinists, oboists, and flautists of various kinds. They learn with ease by watching and imitating.


A review of a performance attended by French writer Gentil in the 18th century does not give a favorable impression of convent musicianship but does tend to show a favored musical ensemble of the period.

Le Desservant on Cure' de la paroisse nous attendoit a' la porte de l'e'glise; il la pre'senta l'eau be'nite a' M. de Caseino, un s'etant contente' d'en re'pandre sur nous autres, nous entrames au bruit d'une symphonie la plus sauvage que l'on puisse se figurer, exe'cutee' par des Indiens, compose'e de, quelques mauvais violons un d'une harpe. (Gentil 1781:134; Mantaring 1983:214)

The Priest of the parish was waiting for us at the church gate. He presented holy water to M. de Caseino and contented himself with splashing it upon us. We were confronted by the noise of a symphony more savage that you can possibly imagine, performed by the Indians and (the ensemble) composed of some bad violins and one harp.

Spanish laws issued circa 1778, called the Ordinances of Raon, covered musician employees of village churches (among other things). The customary annual payment to cantors, sacristans and porters was "four fanegas of palay [uncleaned rice] of forty-eight gantas." The number of cantors an area had depended upon the number of collective tributes [taxpayers] a village possessed. A village of four hundred was allowed six cantors, five cantors for one of three hundred, and four for a village of two hundred. There is no mention in this reference of harpists or of an any particular payment to instrumentalists. (Blair and Robertson:v49:237) Exemption from tribute for musicians was known and documented in Latin America but only one reference concerning this for Filipino musicians was found and will be presented later in this chapter.

While no definitive documented references to the harp surfaced concerning schools for females, numerous girls' schools were known to include drawing and music among the subjects taught. Females were not allowed a formal education. The only subjects taught to them were those that enhanced their matrimonial future. For instance, the School of Santa Isabel on Luzon, founded in 1632, helped to educate poor Spanish orphan girls. (Blair and Robertson: v45: 248) A 19th century engraving, on display in Manila's Ayala Museum, shows a group of women playing various instruments; three bandurrias, one laud, one guitar, one contrabass, one harp (circa early 20th century). (Roces 1978:2501) In Manila especially, women players are associated particularly with the harp.

A small primitive style harp is the instrument of the country. There are few houses without one, even amongst the Indians. I fancy they were introduced by the Spaniards and though the guitar is a good deal in use, I think the ladies in particular generally excell on the harp. (Ellis 1859)

During this period there was an upsurgence of the ilustrado, or emerging upper-middle class, made up of people from the elite indigenes or mixed racial ancestry, Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino. The ilustrados were basically of the bourgeoisie class, landed Filipinos, Chinese merchants, or Spanish mestizos.

The ultimate characterization of an Ilustrada (feminine noun) of the period is exemplified by Maria Clara, a character in José Rizal's famous novel "Noli Me Tangere." Maria Clara is portrayed in contemporary times as a young woman dressed in elegant colonial era clothing, playing a large stationary harp (though this is not specified in the written book). Status representation of the harp in the upper-class Manila society was enhanced through this identification and eventually carried on to a somewhat sublimated contemporary media concept of the Filipino past (discussed in more detail in Chapter 5).

The harp in social situations is best known for its use to accompany dance. A solo harp was all that was necessary if no other instruments were available. The harp is acoustically complete in its ability to produce bass, harmonic and melodic tones, like the piano. Piano and harp were often played together but the piano eventually overtook the harp in popularity by the turn of the 20th century during the American colonial era. An 1838 account describes modern dance styles of the era that were the rage with many upper-class Filipinos.

Los mas ilustrados prefer a estos bailes mas nuestros, o'sean el vals, la polka, la habanera, el rigodon y los lanceros, ejecutan dolos todos con un precision y soltura extraordinarias. (Ruiz 1838:340; Mantaring 1983:338)

The ilustrado prefer our dances, the waltz, polka, habanera, the rigodon and lanceros. They dance with precision and extraordinary ease.

While the harp and later the piano were dear to the ilustrado society, the harp and guitar were instruments most enjoyed by the common masses.

Es muy raro encontrar aque una dalaga medianamente instruida que no sepa tocar el piano, el arpa, o' la guitarra. Todas cantan un poco, mejor o' peor, pero con voz nasal. Los instrumentos mas usados por estos naturales son: el arpa, la guitarra de ocho cuerdas metalica, el bajo o' bandolon y la flauta de cana. Esta ultima la tocan algunos admirablemente....(Ruiz 1838:41-43)

It is very rare here to find a woman who is not so educated that she does not know how to play the piano, the harp, or guitar. All sing, some better, some worse, but with a nasal voice. The instruments most often used by the native people are: the harp, the guitar of eight metallic strings, the bass, or the bandolon [maybe the bandurria] and the cane flute [bamboo]. A few play admirably. . . .

Foreign visitors were impressed with the musical facility of Filipinos, and emphatic comments were noted.

All the people are, in fact, born musicians; even little boys and girls of five or six years of age play the harp, guitar, or the piano as if by instinct. (Gironiere 1854:87-88)

Henry T. Ellis remarked:

I had noticed on entering the house that there was a guitar and one of the small harps of the country in the outer room, which I thought presaged well. On inquiring who was the performer, I was told they were "para las niñas" [for the little girls] which I thought presaged better still. (Ellis 1859)

The popularity of the harp was so great in the 19th century that there are several published references to harp as the Instrumento Nacional or the instrument of the nation.

El arte instrumental no esta tampoco tan atrasado como muchos creen. El furor que tiene aquel pueblo para la musica, hace que tenga bastante vida, y aunque no tenemos noticia de que se fabriquen instrumentos de metal, en los de madera citaremos los piaos, arpas guitarras, bandurrias, violines, clarinetes y flautas, algunos de los cuales se trabajan tan bien como en Europa. El instrumento nacional es alli' el arpa, que con contadas exceptiones tocan todas las mujeres, entre las que hay verdaderas artistas. (Jumenez 1883:173)

Instrumental art is not as backward as is frequently believed. There are many in the towns who are enthusiastic about music, and produce it with sufficient liveliness, and although they do not have information about fabricating metal instruments; in wood [they make] citaremos los piaos (chirping zithers?), harps, guitars, bandurrias, violins, clarinets and flutes, some of which are as good as ones in Europe. The national instrument there is the harp, all women play the harp although few are exceptional; but amongst those that are, they are virtual artists.


José Montero y Vidal, writing about Manila in the 1880's, gives another reference to the national popularity of the harp:

Este motivo y la extraordinaria aficion de los naturales a la musica, es causa de que abunden bandas particulares, y que en casi todas les casas haya pianos, acordeones, violines, flautes, etc, y que en ninguna falte el arpas, que es alli el instrumento nacional. (Vidal 1886:219)


The extraordinary affection that the natives have for music is the reason for an abundant number of special bands, and in almost all houses there are pianos, accordions, violins, flutes, etc., not one [house] is lacking the harp, which is the national instrument.

2.3.1 Jesuit Music Education

From the beginning of Spanish colonization in the Philippines, the Catholic Church was instrumental in educating the Filipino population by starting schools and teaching religious doctrine during Church service. As music was an all important element in this education, credit must be given to those who were their teachers.

Jesuits in the Philippines, as in Latin America, appear to be important as agents in the dissemination of harp and other European musical instruments into many isolated geographical areas, although, other Catholic orders (Franciscans, Augustinians, etc.) should not be ruled out as music educators. The Jesuits initiated missions in a number of regions due to their facility in vernacular languages and willingness to teach religion in very isolated places. This willingness emanated from a specific goal orientation imparted by the Society of Jesus. Schechter explains how this goal was accomplished in Latin America; parallel practices were seen in the Philippines:

Much of the documentation concerning musical training by missionaries of indigenous peoples centers about the Jesuits. Founded by Ignatius Loyola comparatively late, in 1534, the Society of Jesus was often the last order to arrive in the newly conquered territories [of Latin America]. The Jesuits' scholarly achievements are evinced in their careful descriptions of the indigenous cultures they sought to convert and in their contributions to linguistics through their various schoolbooks, catechisms, and dictionaries of Indian languages and dialects. (Schechter 1992:32)

Jesuits were fundamental in developing and operating secular missions on Luzon depending upon the need for their services (even though they were not a secular order). In Taytay, Luzon in the early 1600s Jesuits taught Catholic doctrine by the use of both plainchant and melodies common to the natives. This educational method used musical mnemonics to motivate children to memorize Catholic liturgy. Using this strategy, children eventually passed catechism on to relatives and others. A daily procession using chant, performed by children in Taytay, promoted the Christian religion throughout the settlement. (Costa 1961:157-158)

Like all primitive religions that of the Tagalogs was closely interwoven with their culture and traditions. It governed not only ritual and sacrifice, fast, and festival, but almost the entire life of the individual and the community. It covered household tasks, planting and harvesting, traveling and hunting, war and love with a network of prescriptions and tabus. It was the burden of song and story; indeed, it was by stories heard in childhood, songs pounded on the festive board, chants beating time to the oar that it was chiefly transmitted.

The missionary methods adopted by the Philippine Jesuits were shaped by this fact. Ricci began his apostolate among the Chinese by discussing philosophy with scholar officials [in China]. Chirino began his among the Tagalogs by instructing children. In either case the objective was the same: to find the logical point of insertion by which Christianity could permeate the culture. (Costa 1961:140)


This strategy of syncretic insertion developed into an educational pattern giving impetus to other Jesuits in various field missions, such as, in Bisayan settlements of Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, Negros, Panay, and others. Jesuit chronicler Fr. Pedro Chirino, in his 1604 Relacion, written especially for the King of Spain, reported a Bisayan parish in Carigara on the island of Leyte as being "served and attended as if it were in Europe."

They accompany divine worship with motets and other compositions in their own language, [Waray] Visayan. These later were sung, some to the leading of the organ, others in the musical mode and manner of the country. Both methods greatly attracted the people, moved them to devotion and caused them to learn willingly and with pleasure the sacred mysteries, thus coached in their own meter and style of music. (Chirino 1969)

Similar methods, using European and syncretised indigenous melodies with musical instruments, are well documented in Latin America.

One must admit the possibility that some Christian ritual, liturgical and extraliturgical, may have seemed not excessively alien to the Indians, at least in the great pre-Hispanic urban centers. In both cultures rituals were performed with magnificent vestments, elaborate music, and dancing, the last being liturgical in American Indian religion and generally extraliturgical in Europe. Certain resemblances between indigenous religions and that brought by the Spaniards greatly disturbed the early missionary friars, a fact that more puritanical historians have tended to play down or suppress. Nevertheless, from earliest post-conquest times considerable concessions to local belief and practice were made to an extent that recalls the original situation of Christianity in Europe. (Harrison 1968:3)

This syncretic strategy fits in to an overall philosophy of using the indigenous base belief system to introduce Christian ritual doctrine to natives. Just as European instruments like the harp, guitar, and bandurria replaced the indigenous koriapy (boat lute, kudyapi), kourlong (bamboo tube zither) and other indigenous instruments in the Philippines, Catholicism replaced native ritualistic belief systems, which was then individually perceived by Filipinos in their own fashion. (Rafael 1988:55-71) Transculturation of music and ritual in the Philippines are socially multi-layered, multi-cultural and complex, thus requiring a separate forum in its own right to deconstruct contemporary beliefs and related extant musical genres.

Priests wielded enormous influence in isolated areas where virtually no other Spaniards lived. Priestly law was absolute in many regions. An 18th century account, concerning the island of Cebu by a British writer (with the intention of conquest) illustrates the extent of Jesuit influence this isolated region.

It [Cebu] contains nine towns which are all situated on the sea ashore. They are never infested by the Moors, being esteemed a valiant people they have no forts nor Spaniards on the island but Jesuit fathers, they have however enclosed most of their towns for security against invasion. (Blair and Robertson:v49:34)

With the expulsion of Jesuits from Spanish domains in 1767 much of the ethnographic documentation, done primarily by Jesuits, seems to have tapered off until 19th century travel writers take up with their limited cultural descriptions, writing mainly about the Manila area.


2.3.2 Harp in the Visayas

One of the earliest references to music education in the Visayas is found in Chirino's Relacion where he reports experiences at mission settlements in and around Tigbauan (near what is now Iloilo City) on the island of Panay in the year 1598. There was no specific reference to the harp in particular, but the use of musical instruments were noted.

Church-feasts were celebrated with vespers and solemn masses, particularly at Easter and in Holy Week. A large school was formed, containing the children, of all that region, where they learned to read, write, play musical instruments, and sing; two children from this school were sent every week to each one of the churches in the district, to take care of it and to assemble each afternoon the people of the village to repeat the doctrine in front of the church, as was done in Tigbauan. (Blair and Robertson 1903:v12:220-221)

Little is known about the waiving of tribute (taxes) for musicians in service to the Catholic Church in the Philippines. Mentioned before were laws respecting chanters, but these fall short of explaining the instrumentalists' economic arrangement with the Church. An important reference given by Costa in this context shows that exemptions were allotted church musicians in the Philippines, as they similarly were in Latin America. Around 1680, Fr. Andreas Manker (d. 1684), an Austrian Jesuit, comments on Visayan missions. In a letter, he relates to his Austrian correspondent that almost every town and market village in the Philippines had a band of sixteen to seventeen musicians who were exempted from tribute for providing music at church services. Among musical instruments he named were "lyres, harps, cornets and flutes." Historian Costa, in this reference, decided that harps did not exist in the Visayas during this period, and he qualified Manker's statement; "by lyres and harps he meant, of course, guitars and bandurrias." (Costa 1961:476)

Alcina's monumental ethnographic treatise (1668) gives the most detailed historical data available on Bisayan lifestyle in the 17th century. Father Alcina, a Jesuit priest and administrator, lived and worked most of his life in Bisayan missions on Panay, Bohol, Negros, Samar, Leyte, and Cebu. On musical instruments in the Visayas he writes, "Nowadays [circa mid-1600's] they are taking up our instruments such as guitars, harps, rebeles (violin type), bandols [probably bandurria type] and others which they play so expertly that they are forgetting their own." (Kobak 1977:56) Alcina's elaborate account of indigenous poetry, song, dance and musical instruments help construct a notion of what musical life in the Visayas was like before Spanish conquest. The Alcina quotation above sets the harp, at least in Leyte, about the same time as the Manker reference (mid-1660's). While this does not necessarily refute Costa's statement concerning the harp it shows that there may be truth in Manker's reference after all.

Because there were so few Spaniards in isolated area of the Visayas where the Jesuits had missions it appears that post-colonial socialization may have evolved somewhat differently than in Luzon. Thus musical practice, in effect, could have been influenced by the peccadilloes of individual priests descendent of various European regions of Spain, Germany and Austria (such as Manker), especially since there were so very few available priests in isolated areas. In other words, an individual priest might be more familiar with types of instruments or musical styles, both secular and liturgical, common to his own ancestral European region and thus might have promoted certain styles over others. The Church appears to have supplied the strongest social and political structure for the majority of the Bisayans until at least the late 18th century.

The well know song/dance genre described in Chapter 1, called balitaw (or balitao), theoretically has roots in Pre-Hispanic Bisayan ritual culture. The harp is traditionally used to accompany the balitaw, especially in Cebuano regions. Assuming that the use of the harp developed with the emergence of Hispanic balitaw from a pre-Hispanic source around the seventeenth century, then this integrated Bisayan harp tradition itself could be very old. There may also be a relationship between harp practice and the Cebuano epic daygon Christmas caroling, believed to have developed as early as the seventeenth century. It is unknown how long the harp actually existed in connection with the balitaw or how old the balitaw genre is, but the harp could be integral to a syncretic process of assimilation during Hispanic rule. It is plausible that the harp took the place of the koryapi while Hispanic meter and harmonic structure merged with the indigenous poetic verse and melody.



Harp practice cannot be viewed as integrated into every area of Cebuano-Bisayan society and usually has relevance only to those individuals, families and neighbors who come into personal contact with an active performer or those who possess a harp, whether playable or not.

Harp used to accompany the balitaw before World War II and was fairly well known in the Visayas. Guitars now provide basic accompaniment for this disappearing tradition. Unlike the balitaw known in Luzon, which is basically considered only a dance form, balitaw is (or was) in itself a popular theatrical form in Cebuano regions, and heard regularly on the radio in the 1960's. (Abihay 1978)

Contemporary harp practice in Cebu is almost totally limited to an itinerant troubadour-like Christmas caroling tradition called daygon (or daegon). This is, however, quite rare. No written documentation was found concerning daygon harp performance in the Visayas. Most written historic documentation concerning the harp is centered upon the Tagalog linguistic area of Manila on Luzon.

Research gathered from three separate informants on Cebu and Bohol shows that there is at least one other traditional function of harp practice in a rarefied contemporary context. Novenas performed annually for particular patron saints of a municipality, barangay, or sitio, have (at least in the past) employed musical ensembles to play traditional songs specific to an individual saint of a parish or chapel. Fieldwork interviews reveal that in Lomac, Lutopan, Cebu there still is a continuing tradition of harp playing for an annual novena ceremony.

Historically, a novena ensemble of harp, violin and other instruments could have at one time been a commonplace occurrence. As mentioned before in regard to Latin America by Schechter and in the Philippines by Gentil, the harp and violin ensemble was a favorite at the convents. Violin making and performance is another extant tradition in the Philippines, and this is also quite rare, like the harp in the Visayas.

Harp performance in the Philippines is a centuries old tradition with little written history on the verge of extinction. Practitioners of this tradition are almost always disenfranchised from the mainstream contemporary

culture. Filipino harp has virtually no role in modern musical society. Of the limited number of harp players interviewed, the majority were elderly, most over sixty years old. Very few harp players are now active performers and few newcomers take their place, with one exception.

I found only one area in Negros in which there was an active harp tradition where children were taught to play at a young age. This particular tradition in La Libertad started after World War II and, in essence, began because the barrio families involved believed that the incorporation of harp into an ensemble of other string instruments, such as guitar, ukulele, and bandurria, would be helpful in performing daygon for merchants and hacenderos, to generate much needed cash during the Christmas season.

The status of harp in contemporary urban Filipino society is that of a relic or antique. Most harps seen now in the Philippines are toy-like miniatures sold as souvenirs. Newly constructed, and sold as "antiques" they are used only as ornaments or furniture, not as viable musical instruments. In the giant "Megamall" complex in Manila, a concession of Filipino handicrafts displays harps, some built to the full scale, but these are not playable or were they built to play.

The harp appears in modern commercial advertising. Poster ads and television commercials for San Miguel beer and Aji-no-moto (MSG), use the harp as a symbol of past ilustrado wealth and fine living. Therefore it seems that the perception of the harp in the superculture media is a subliminal anachronistic icon of Filipino culture. This might be somehow linked to the desire to use the icon of the harp as an aesthetic furniture item or household ornament to denote an air of refined "antique" Filipiniana in the home.

Traditionally, the harp (and later piano) functioned to increase the social standing or marriageability of young girls, similar to the way koto or shamisen practice functions in Japanese society. Also, similar to Japan, professional teachers of the instrument usually were males. Often a male harp maker would teach harp to a potential buyer. A story related by an Ilocano woman in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, described her own experience of being sent away as a young girl to Cagayan to live and learn harp from a teacher/harp maker for three months. An eighty-year-old lady from Piddig, Ilocos Norte, began harp lessons at the age of six years from a male Spanish harp maker and teacher as well.

In Ilocano regions, the perception of the harp practice conforms more to that described above, of the sophisticated female rather than the itinerant male more common in the Visayas. Of the few people interviewed in Ilocos who play harp, most were working or retired school teachers, both men and women. Harpists interviewed in the Visayas were from upland and rural areas with less formal education, the majority being men. This suggests a difference in economic stratification, and thus social status, between harp players of Ilocos and the Visayas.

The more-or-less amateur and educated players predominant in Ilocandia can be contrasted to the semi-professional and lower income tradition of the Visayas. Historically, however, in and around Manila harp practice was widespread in various strata of the population. Both elitest and itinerant practices were documented. This parallels stratified harp use in Europe as well. Speculation into status differences of harp players in Ilocano versus Bisayan regions is a point dealt with in more detail in Chapter 5.