In 1995, UNESCO placed the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras in the List of World Heritage sites, describing the terraces as “a living cultural landscape of unparalleled beauty.” This work was inspired by a study of the Ifugao culture and tradition, in particular the tunes and rhythms that accompany dances and rituals, and the ancient collection of chants known as ‘Hudhud.’ Mainly sung by elderly women at harvest time and funeral rituals, these chants evoke Ifugao ancient traditions and ancestral heroes.
Hudhud was conceived as a dialogue and an encounter between the Ifugao music tradition and the Western contemporary repertoire. The pitch and harmonic materials, drawn from Hudhud chants, blend with structures derived from a matrix.
The main theme, that opens the work, given to double basses and trombone I, comes from Hudhud chants and appears throughout the score.
The overlapped pitches of some of these tunes generate harmonic structures as well.
At the basis of rhythmic procedures and temporality there are multilayered structures and in some passages families of instruments contravene the notated meter, with the result of metric displacement. This feature was suggested by the variety and freedom that traditional rhythms of the Ifugao culture express.
This score pays homage to the heritage of the Ifugao people, through an implicit narrative that runs through its most joyful features, but that also expresses some of its obscure and secret aspects, as old as time itself.
Short fragments of other tunes of the Cordillera tradition are quoted as well. Examples can be found in m. 117 (piccolo and flute),
and mm. 120-128 (flute and oboe)