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Music Formation

Both my niece and girlfriend listen to a lot of pop music, current hits for the former, and more tasteful classic potentials for the latter. As an ardent hard rock / smooth jazz listener, I can only roll my eyes towards some (not all!) of their music; but having an eclectic taste demands that I can adjust my criticism to suit whatever music is available, which has been quite a valuable life skill, as I’ve discovered.


Because surviving Miley Cyrus is a life skill. Image from Digital Spy.

Of course, when a song that you particularly dislike gets stuck in your head—this tends to happen more often with my niece’s music—I have to fire up my laptop’s music player and blast something from Liquid Tension Experiment or Incognito to get the backwash, as it were, out of my head.

Thinking back, I would imagine that my musical tastes, perhaps, annoyed my parents just as much as my niece’s music often annoys me. But funnily enough, my taste evolved from the music that they used to play on the radio; my father was a huge Ventures / Shadows hound, and would play his cassettes in the car at every opportunity. During long drives into the country, he had a huge collection of The Brothers Four country music, which as a kid I found terribly boring, but I find myself missing now.

After an (admittedly long) stint of listening to The Simpsons’ Singing the Blues album, my cousins introduced me to the music of the Eraserheads. I remember watching River Maya and the Eheads perform at the Cuneta Astrodome back during the height of the Cutterpillow album, and for a teen-ager, it was glorious. My parents bought me my very first guitar after about a year of incessantly listening to Cutterpillow and Circus, and I’ve been plonking away at the strings ever since.

During high school, I made the acquaintance of Louie Ocampo, with whom I would eventually build a musical rapport with; he became the guitarist of Mahasa, whilst I was that band’s first bass player. Louie introduced me to River Maya and Wolfgang (up until that time, I preferred Eraserheads to River Maya), and subsequently widened my musical spectrum from the fun kanto rhythms of alternative rock, to the straight-edged seriousness of hard rock. I would also change my radio station allegiance, from Campus Radio 97.9 to NU 107.5, the Home of Nu Rock. This formed the basis of what eventually became my musical backbone. Of course, I didn’t know that the music I was listening to would form the core of the late 90s / early 2000s classics.

I forget how I was introduced to progressive rock; all I know is that I started listening to Dream Theater in college. This was at around the same time I started listening to local bands like Chicosci and Queso (Cheese, at the time), after my fascination with rap metal kings Slapshock during the latter part of high school. The biggest draw I saw in progressive rock was the similarities it bore with classical music; the structure and phrasing of each piece was precise. My grandmother was a classical piano teacher, and she taught the instrument well into her old age, so the influence she had on me throughout the years was enormous.

All this time, however, I was quietly listening to the music of Razorback. I was already a Wolfgang fan, so it was only fitting that I listened to their brother band as well; the problem was, while Wolfgang was pretty active in the late 90s / early 2000s, Razorback was more reticent, so I followed Wolfgang more than I did the ‘bex. But when their self-titled album was released (I forget what year it was), all that changed. I immediately shifted my loyalties, and set out to mapping the bassline for most of the songs in the album. And my ear hasn’t had the taste for normal music ever since.

That is, up until 2007. This year, I moved to the south for an almost year-long stay in Cagayan de Oro. There, I made the acquaintance of Blues (that’s his nickname) Marquez, and Dave Fuentes, two of the biggest jazz hounds I know. I’d been listening to jazz thanks to the influence of some of my friends, so I was pre-armed with info; I knew all about the Brand New Heavies, and was an ardent fan of Sound, a local Pinoy jazz band fronted by Sach Castillo. However, I wasn’t prepared for how much I’d enjoy playing random songs by Incognito and the APO Hiking Society. And it stuck.

Wow, I didn’t expect this post to get this long. I’ll wrap it up by saying that yes; music is continuously evolving, and what people are listening to now isn’t al that bad; Bruno Mars is fairly good, and Adelle is impressive (although I dislike the string of copycats that followed in her wake). But if you ask me to play the music I like, then you’ll likely see me listening to something from one of the bands I mentioned throughout this post.


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