The Traditional in the Modern

by Kiko Matsing


This modern piano piece was composed by Prof. Ramon Santos, and played with passionate abandon by this young prodigy. It was inspired by the Kulintang–the series of gong-chimes from the Muslim tribes of southern Philippines. Here, the piano is used almost like the percussive instrument.

The recurrence of the traditional in the modern is so Bartokian!

I met Prof. Santos through Monica (he’s her dad), who is a graduate student in anthropology at UIUC. I took them to watch the restored version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis at Ebertfest last April. It was scored by Alloy Orchestra, who creates modern music for films from the silent era. I thought he would enjoy the immersive soundscape of Alloy Orchestra, whom I’ve seen the previous year perform Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera, as the three-man ensemble uses a lot of found percussions.