Original Pinoy Music, or OPM, has numerous notable pieces from equally talented musicians. Through the years, we heard unique compositions and various renditions of well-loved songs through masterful handling of instruments. But now and then, some artists wow their audiences by bringing something new to the music industry.
Abby Clutario, a local artist, has a unique take on amplifying and broadening OPM—using a Chapman Stick. She’s the only female Chapman Stick player in the Philippines and has been using the instrument for a decade.
The Chapman Stick is an electric musical instrument devised by Emmett Chapman in the early 1970s. As a member of the guitar family, the Chapman Stick usually has ten or twelve individually tuned strings to play bass lines, melody lines, chords, or textures.
Before her genuine interest in the Chapman Stick, Abby heard the instrument at play by a foreign band, which features fusion and progressive rock elements.
“Kaya ko ‘yun napapakinggan kasi ‘yun din ang roots ng aking unang unang banda na independent, ‘yung fuseboxx. Nung time na ‘yon, siyempre marami kaming pinapakinggan and I think that was the first,” Abby shared during an online media conference.
Eventually, Abby fell in love with the Chapman Stick when she heard Greg Howard work his magic on the instrument.
“New age ‘yung tipo ng music na tinugtog niya using the Chapman Stick. That kind of genre is really what I like. Tapos nangibabaw rin kasi doon ‘yung tunog at saka ‘yung timbre ng Chapman Stick at sobrang na-in love ako,” the musician shared.
According to Abby, the Chapman Stick is a custom-made instrument available in the United States. Ordering can be difficult because of its exclusivity and logistics. But a decade or so ago, when music forums were still frequent, someone was selling one. Long story short, Abby acquired one and learned how to play it.
Fortunately, she found active communities composed of Chapman Stick players from the US and Europe. They showed her the first things she needed to learn about the instrument. Abby also researched the Chapman Stick, like buying books and participating in lessons. She even got to study under Howard’s supervision.
“It took me siguro about three months to get to know the Chapman Stick from the day I purchased it from my bandmate,” Abby shared.
Her first experience playing the instrument was using it to play bass notes for their band. As Abby’s familiarity with the Chapman Stick increased and her talent in playing it improved, she began playing it as a solo instrument.
One of the recent pieces Abby played on the Chapman Stick was a rendition of Up Dharma Down’s “Tadhana.” As many OPM enthusiasts know, “Tadhana” features the soothing yet powerful vocals and poetic lyricism of UDD’s vocalist, Armi Millare, accompanied by a mellow rhythmic jam that’s easy to catch up on.
In Abby’s version, the music and vocals for “Tadhana” gained more depth and sounded richer.
Abby Clutario’s “Tadhana” is now available on iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, and other digital stores worldwide.