Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Kundiman love songs from the Philippines: Their development from folksong to art song and an examination of representative repertoire
by Anderson, Quiliano Nineza, D.M.A., The University of Iowa, 2015, 154; 3726807
Abstract (Summary)

In the Philippines, a type of love song known as the Kundiman had existed since the early 19th century. But in the early 20th century Kundiman had developed into art song. The term Kundiman comes from the Tagalog phrase “kung hindi man” or “if it were not so”. Written in the Tagalog language, these folksongs were subtly patriotic but typically disguised as love songs. Filipinos, in their long struggle against an oppressive Spanish regime, saw it as a tool that would ultimately unite Filipino revolutionaries to wage war against the Spaniards in 1896 during the Spanish-American War.

The composer Francisco Santiago (1889-1947) is sometimes called the “Father of Kundiman Art Song”. While his masterpiece is considered to be his Concerto in B flat minor for pianoforte and orchestra, one of his most significant piece is his song “Kundiman, (Anak-Dalita)”, the first Kundiman art song. Santiago regarded the Kundiman art song as something “that expresses the lofty sentiment of love, and even heroism in a melancholy mood”. Given the cross-fertilization of Spanish and Filipino cultures in the 19th century, Kundiman art songs were typically a blend of melodic material from native folksong and European music traditions. The result is a song characterized by smooth flowing lines and beautiful melodies. The piano accompaniments are typically full in texture, sometimes containing countermelodies, sometimes merely harmonizing with the vocal line in thirds and sixths. One other significant early composer of Kundiman art songs was Nicanor Abelardo (1893-1934). His songs, together with those of Santiago’s became models for other Filipino composers such as Constancio De Guzman (1903-1982) and Miguel Velarde, Jr. (1913-1986) in the decades following Abelardo’s death.

The purpose of this essay is to shed some light on this unique genre of song, and provide the tools necessary to study and perform these representations of Filipino culture and history. To do this, I have provided brief background information on the origins of Kundiman art song. I have also provided a guide to pronunciation, grammar and the idiosyncracies of the Tagalog dialect. Finally, this essay contains a performance guide for 20 representative Kundiman art songs, including original texts, literal and prose translations, International Phonetic Alphabet (I.P.A.) transcriptions, and suggestions for interpretation and style.

In researching and analyzing these songs I have gained an understanding of the aesthetic appeal of Kundiman art songs. More importantly, these songs are not widely known in the classical world. But because of their unique connection to Filipino history and culture, they deserve serious attention. These songs would indeed make a great addition to a recital program.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Muriello, John
Commitee: Jones, Susan S., Jones, William LaRue, Swanson, Stephen, Theisen, Bill
School: The University of Iowa
Department: Music
School Location: United States -- Iowa
Source: DAI-A 77/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Music
Keywords: Art song, Kundiman, Philippines
Publication Number: 3726807
ISBN: 9781339116372
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