Arts and Culture
Salidummay is a folk song genre of the northern Philippine highlands. It is often used as identity symbol of the indigenous peoples of the region and projected as their traditional music. Its music style is characterized by pentatonic tunes, simple rhythms punctuated by dotted notes, quadruple meter, and unique refrains with such words like “ay ay salidummay, salidummay diway.” My ethnographic research since the 1990s accompanied with field recordings and extensive literature review revealed, however, that salidummay is a relatively newly emerged genre; with combination of the lyrics of older chants that were performed in different occasions to three- or four-tone tunes and the tunes which are modifications of those of American popular songs brought by American soldiers during World War II.
In the 2010s older recordings of salidummay performances in the 1960s and the 1970s were digitalized and became accessible in an archive of the University of the Philippines. The archival materials reveal that the salidummay songs in earlier decades were not squarely sung in pentatonic tunes and quadruple rhythm as they are today. They are instead characterized by uncertain pitches and loose rhythms.
This paper presents the process of modification of some salidummay tunes: from melismatic to pentatonic ones ending not on the tonic, to pentatonic ones ending on the tonic, and to diatonic ones. Naming such changes as “doremmi-nization”, the paper further reflects on its socio-cultural implications as modernization/ rationalization of musical senses of the indigenous peoples and interrogates the meaning of cultural heritage.