Bahay Kubo – Filipino Folk Song Turned Downtempo

A photo of a modern bahay kubo or nipa hut made from bamboo

“Bahay Kubo” (Nipa Hut) is one of those Filipino folk songs that every elementary child in the Philippines used to learn early on since it was a lesson in naming your vegetables set to a catchy tune. I’m no longer sure if this is still the case. Nevertheless, I used the folk song as inspiration for this track.

What I did was deconstruct every musical phrase (and lyrical line) of the song and gave that melody to a different synthesizer or tone generator. Thus certain phrases play back in a different sequence from the original, adding slightly different textures to the tune. I then drew everything together with a simple two-step drum pattern and some floating synth pads.

This piece is an example of what creative nationalism could be like — where composers use the folk songs from his or her country of origin as base material to build from, and from there create new music that both pays homage to, and reinterprets your ancestry and musical heritage.

I wrote about creative nationalism in a blog post way back in 2005, after conducting a magazine interview with maestro Lucio San Pedro — one of the foremost Philippine composers. And this track is a direct result of that interview, even if it was done many years later.

Other Resources:
If you want to learn what the original song is about and how it sounds on an acoustic guitar, listen to this podcast on Viloria.com about the song’s words.

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