Playing it by ear –

Playing it by earIf you are a Filipino musician or a music enthusiast, chances are you’re used to hearing or uttering yourself the words cifra and oido – two words likely to be misspelled or mispronounced. Their usage though, at least to us Filipinos, is as clear as the cloudless sky.
In street parlance, musicians will ask co-players, “paki-cifra ng kantang ito” to imply that the track needed to be learned every note, or as heard on the master version. On the other hand, unstudied musicians will claim themselves to be oido (pronounced as wee-do) to denote their nature to play by ear. Since many of us neither went to formal music school nor read musical notations, yet known for being musically-inclined, we are a nation of oidos.  
These two oft-used words pop up quite a lot in my recent conversations with Ronnie Vivar, a veteran music scribe associated with good ol’ songhits where readers get to enjoy printed lyrics of songs of their favorite artists, with corresponding guitar chords. As content creator, he, partnered with a graphics expert and helped by a host of consultants in the music industry, is coming out with MyTunes music magazine that promises “chord-accurate songs based on original audio material.”
He said, “From the intro to its finality, we got it covered. From current to recurrent music, we will have it.”
Somehow he had to dig through to establish his point, expressing, “We’ve had enough of hastily commissioned cifra jobs in the past. It’s really disappointing when you try to strum a song and the chord placements are faulty and the chords themselves are wrong or off-key.”
Ronnie noted he’s particular with what he calls “the skeleton of the whole song,” further commenting, “I hate cifra efforts na hindi mo na alam saan ka pupunta after a stanza, or chorus, or bridge, or adlib. I am correcting those mistakes in this song magazine.”
True to his word, Ronnie asked for the lyrics of my band The Pub Forties’ digital single “Next Big Thing,” which he said he intended to feature in the song magazine’s upcoming first issue. He picked the correct chords as I wrote it and properly placed them up to the final lyric. Sharp ears!
MyTunes is described as a “coffee table book-type digital songhits.” It will contain what for Ronnie are old reliables like chord charts, guitar guides, and informative articles. He implied that the project hopes to apply the lessons of the past when, in his words, “the medium became just another conduit for press release material rather than a reliable source for music and guitar play.” He added that “some handlers meddled in editorial affairs it compromised content.”
Well, sounds like Ronnie is playing it by ear in this “new normal” with an eye for ground-breaking progression.

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About Kalika Ayuna

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