The Philippine rondalla: recreating musical heritage in contemporary Australasia.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis examines the Philippine rondalla, a plucked-string ensemble, in contemporary Australia and New Zealand. Recreations of a remembered heritage, rather than the continuance of a living tradition, these groups are motivated by notions of Philippine nationalism in the multicultural, Australasian environment. The establishment of rondallas in six locations is examined. Important paradigmatic differences which arise when Filipino rondallas begin to attract members from diverse ethnicities within multicultural Australia are identified. Particularly interesting is the role of aural transmission and rote learning, which have traditionally been important aspects of Philippine rondalla practice. In Australasia these processes become problematic when rondalla participants lack a formative exposure to Filipino music. Background chapters clearly identify the unique features of the Philippine rondalla by viewing the ensemble as one of the evolutions of the Spanish rondalla and placing it musically within the context of similar plucked chordophone ensembles in Spain and Latin America. This establishment of norms for the Philippine ensemble makes it possible to observe musical change in the Australasian rondallas. While Australasia remains the focus, the study also draws on wider field experiences in the present day Philippines, Spain, Singapore and Taiwan. This provides a broader view of the rondalla in its original setting and in the diaspora. Photographs and video documentation of performances, rehearsals, lessons and interviews are presented with the thesis.