Most of the time, songs are created out of the composer’s thoughts, imagination or emotions. But the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) showed a song can also be inspired by economic data.
Composers Allan Feliciano and Top Suzara (also the former vocalist of Filipino 90s band Freestyle) composed a three-minute song titled Tunog ng Progreso for NEDA.
What’s different about how the song was created is that its notes were actually derived from the data points of the country’s annual GDP growth from the 1980s. “We realized the GDP was always showing numbers between 0 to 8. Then we realized, ‘Hey, we can use those data points as notes,’” said Feliciano.
They turned the numbers into the notes of a scale, converting all one’s into “Do”, two’s into “Re”, three’s into “Mi”, and so on. These served as the entire song’s basslines.
The intro’s bassline contains GDP of the years 1983 to 1986, which shows an up, down and up again pattern. During these years, the country’s economic growth dropped during the last two years of former President Ferdinand Marcos, then got back up again in 1986.
The song’s verses are composed of the years 1987 to 1996, while the pre-chorus represents the country’s relatively steady economic growth in 2007 to 2016. The chorus shows rising successions, with notes representing the years from 1983 to 2016.
RnB and HipHop OPM artist Thyro performed the song. Tunog ng Progreso serves as the agency’s official anthem to promote the country’s economic growth narrative.
“As economic manager, NEDA’s work tends to be highly technical. Most of the time it’s all about numbers and statistics. But how will we help people understand it?” explained Nerrisa Esguerra, director of NEDA’s Development Information Staff. She added the project is part of NEDA’s Philippine Development Plan.
Watch the video above to hear the full song.
Pauline Macaraeg is Entrepreneur PH's data journalist. Follow her on Twitter @paulinemacaraeg