21 July 2010

Singing

While in Bohol with a few of my colleagues last summer, on each of the two nights we were at the beach resort where we were billeted, we would almost inevitably end up at the restaurant jamming with the live band that serenaded diners at night. The band was excellent, and we were all of the opinion that if they were anywhere near the capital, they would have made quite a name for themselves.

But perhaps it was better that they did not… There were just three of them in the band: the guitarist-cum-singer, the keyboardist and the lead vocals. They were good, that much I can vouch for. But though we loved them for their music, we loved them more because they were unspoiled by success and so utterly friendly!

We were far away from the workplace; the dim lights made for a romantic and relaxing ambience; it was so easy to get into the party mood! So we danced on the sand when the music called for it, put our hands together to encourage the band and sang along when we knew the lyrics of the song they were singing.

So, we inevitably got invited to sit in front of them and party some more. Perhaps the lead singer just wanted to rest her vocal cords; whichever way it was, she was generous in inviting us to send somebody to the microphone and sing karaoke-style but with a live band instead of packaged midi music.

As it happened, one of our colleagues was quite comfortable singing in front of a crowd. Bong – as he is called – had performed in employee affairs before and even had his own concert – a project of the Employees’ Music Committee – with another of our colleagues. The guy can sing, that much I can tell you; moreover, he is quite handy with a guitar as well!

Now, of course, being Pinoy, Bong needed more than just a bit of cajoling before he could be persuaded to step in front. Once he was behind the microphone, however – and having selected his song from the selections that the band could play – it was a simple case of duck taking to water.

Singing – that is one of the things I envy Bong for. He sings so naturally and – more – so beautifully. He has this high-pitched voice not unlike that of David Soul that allows him to sing even Air Supply classics. When he reaches for notes beyond his natural range, he effortlessly switches to a melodic falsetto that – if anything – makes his singing sound even better.

Even the foreigners among the diners sat up and took notice; before long, they were heartily applauding him and asking for more. From an initially grudging performance, pretty soon it became practically his concert.

After a while, the novelty wore off and he stepped away from the mike. The lead singer turned to me and invited me to the front. My colleagues, needless to say, all but pushed me forward. Singing, though, just happens to be one of those things I would not be caught dead doing in public. Ah-ah, magkakapasâ ang mamimilit… Because that much soon became apparent, the band returned to their nightly routines.

Singing – and music, to be more general – I suppose is one of the things one is just born with. I think it is even to a large extent genetic. People I know who sing or play a musical instrument well tend to have relations who are also quite musical.

One of my nephews, for instance, is quite natural with several instruments. I do not believe he got that from my sister; although, I remember she used to take piano lessons when she was still a kid. I do know there were musicians on his father-side.

Kami, I think it is reasonable to say that writing is our family thing. I still remember Dad saying his grandfather – who died long before I was even born – used to write Spanish zarzuelas. Both Mom and Dad, as far as I can remember, were both comfortable with the written language. Ditto my brothers and sisters. I know I also have cousins who are in the writing business.

But singing? Hell, no!!!

Bakâ sa baño, pwede! God knows I used to do that a lot before, albeit I could have used a bit more encouragement from my Mom. Instead, the moment I left the bathroom, she would predictably complain na para raw akong colorum.

The first time I heard the word, I did not even know what it meant. Mom had to explain that these were mendicants during her youth in Nasugbu who went around town begging for alms by playing strange instruments and singing strange songs. The hell I knew what they even were!

Singing, I was told by a friend who studied music, is a confidence thing as well. Eh papa’no ka naman magkakakumpiansa if your own Mom is the first pulaera? Tsk!

If you stood next to me during a Mass, don’t expect to hear my voice singing along with the choir. I can hold my notes, alright, if I am by myself. Kayâ lang, when there is somebody singing next to me, before long my pitch gets derailed by that of the person next to me. Entonces, I end up singing sin tonado!

Confidence again, this friend explained. Eh kasi daw, I am hearing the person next to me more than I am hearing myself. Because I have less confidence than the person next to me, I tend to sing in that person’s pitch rather than my own. In other words daw, I must learn to listen to my own voice more.

Ahhhh… ‘Yun lang pala ‘yun… Like I understood…

I also cannot sing when there is musical accompaniment. I dunno… I just can’t! Albeit, when I was still doing a lot of web designing as recently as half a decade ago, my officemates would find themselves jumping off their seats because biglâ akong bubumghalit ng Bon Jovi. That would normally have been triggered by a Bon Jovi mp3 playing on the PC speakers.

Graphics… HTML… These things would make me forget that singing was, is and will never be my thing! Magba-blog na lang ako… Ewan ko din lang sa baño…





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