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Kundiman - Filipino Love Songs
Kundiman is a genre of traditional Filipino love songs, it is the traditional song of serenade in the Philippines. The Kundiman has its origin among the Tagalog of Luzon and is truly an expression of their sentimental nature. Today, it has been accepted as one of the genre of Philippine music, not only because of the intense feeling that it conveys, but also because of the high degree of musical artistry to which the country’s composers have elevated it.
Origin of the word KUNDIMAN
According to an old story, this is how the song got its name. One bright moonlit night, during the Spanish regime, a group of young romantic men went together to serenade a young woman whose house was very close to the church convent. They started their serenade with one of the most popular kundimans of the time. It was a beautiful song with a very enchanting and simple melody, but its verses were somewhat monotonous due to the constant repetition of the three words, "kung hindi man”.
Nearby, as the priest slept, he was awakened by the young men’s voices and hearing the three words over and over, asked his servants to make them stop singing their “kundiman” Because of his inability to say the three Tagalog words clearly the priest thus gave the song its popular name.
The word Kundiman itself was first applied to the verses and then later to the music itself. It is thought that kundiman is a contraction of three Tagalog words “kung hindi man” (though you may not) – something of an expression of humility on the part of the suitor.
The kundiman has come to be the love song of the Filipinos.
In the olden days in the Philippines, a young man does not resort to writing love letters on linen paper he simply gets his guitar, tunes it and hastily dedicates a torrent of songs to his lady love.
Jocelynang Baliuag - Kundiman of the Revolution
During the Spanish revolution, one of the most popular songs was a kundiman called “Jocelynang Baliuag” dedicated to a beautiful lady named Pepita, which is the nickname of Josefa Tiongson y Lara, a young Filipina from the town of Baliuag, Bulacan.
The lyrics are dedicated to her as she is used to symbolize the beautiful country of the Philippines
It has been called the “Kundiman of the Revolution “ It was actually an expression of love for the motherland and the hope of setting her free from the Spanish conquistadores.
During the revolution it was a melody the fighting men sang and hummed in the camps, reminding them of the loved ones left behind and the reason why they are fighting for their motherland.
For a time, it went the way of all popular music, no serious composer paid much attention to it until Bonifacio Abdon. He was born in 1886 studied violin and later conducted with an Italian conductor of an Italian opera company then in Manila. Abdon is considered the father of the modern Kundiman and wrote Kundiman in 1920. He gave the kundiman a certain expansion of the melodic line, novelty in rhythmical pattern and an unusually rich harmony, thereby liberating it from its old monotony.
Bonifacio Abdon was inspired by Schumann , Mendelssohn and Schubert in utilizing , native themes for serious music.
Dr. Francisco Santiago took up the lowly kundiman and transformed it into a number entitled “Kundiman” and became a trail –blazer for Filipino composers.
Dr Francisco Santiago, the “Father of Filipino Musical Nationalism”, declared that the Kundiman is a love song par excellence of the Filipinos, the song which goes deepest into their hearts and brings untold emotions. It also served as a vehicle to express patriotism in times of colonialism.oppression, in which the undying love for a woman symbolised love of country and desire for freedom.
The man who brought the kundiman to its closest degree of relationship between the poem and the music was Nicanor Abelardo who composed Nasaan ka Irog, Bituin Marikit, Pamimakas, Kundiman Ng luha and Magbalik ka Hirang.
Nasaan Ka Irog?
The kundiman has taken a step further than being merely a piece of vocal music. Today, the country’s composers have used it widely in their major works in sonatas, concertos, overtures, symphonic poems, symphonies and choral music.
The kundiman has grown from its grassroots origin of a highly emotional and romantic love song into a highly developed piece of art with a universal appeal.
Even if you don't understand a single word, you'll find classical Philippine as a great listening music. A great way to, relax and enjoy this unique style of Philippine music.