Lecture 1

SYMPOSIUM AND WORKSHOP “Plucked String Music: Evolutions”
Day 1 – 9:30am-10:45am

The Plucked String: A Diverse Phenomenon in the Musical Traditions of the World’s Cultures

Speaker: Ramon P. Santos (Philippines)


The history of the plucked string instrument is probably as old as the history of humanity itself, with its diverse shapes and sizes, as well as the great variety of its playing techniques, tonal systems, and its roles in the different musical expressions of the world’s cultures and societies. While it is difficult to trace its history of diffusion, let alone its association with the history of the human species in its endogenous and exogenous movements, studies show some traces of their migration, transfer and evolution throughout the history of the world’s peoples. What is interesting though is the variety not only of their importance in the different musical traditions, but also their usage and significance in the various repertoires. From being used to reinforce vocal renditions and ceremonial or ritual occasions, to its role as a solo instrument with improvisatory playing, and to its being a member of both homogeneous plucked string ensembles to heterogeneous groupings, the plucked string has been a distinctive musical tool in the expressive cultures of man.


Ramón Pagayon Santos (b. 1941) initially trained in Composition and Conducting at the University of the Philippines, and earned his Master of Music (with distinction) and Ph.D. degrees at Indiana University and State University of New York at Buffalo, respectively. He was a full fellow at the Ferienkurse fűr Neue Musik in Darmstadt and a Visiting Scholar in Ethnomusicology at the University of Illinois. As composer, his works, which have been performed in Europe, the Americas and Asia, are conceived along concepts and aesthetic frameworks of Philippine and Southeast Asian artistic traditions. In the field of Musicology, he has undertaken researches not only in Philippine and Asian contemporary music, but also studied Javanese gamelan music and dance and Nan Kuan, and engaged in continuing field studies of Philippine traditional music such as the musical repertoires of the Ibaloi, the Bagobo, Manobo, Mansaka, Bontoc, Yakan, and Boholano, as well as musics from South China, Indonesia and Thailand. He is currently serving as University Professor Emeritus of the University of the Philippines and President of the Musicological Society of the Philippines. He was proclaimed a Philippine National Artist (Music) in June 2014.