Same Song, Different Renditions: The Application of Roland Barthes’ ‘The Death of the Author’ on the Voice of the Philippines Pilot episode

In the pilot episode of the Voice of the Philippines, one of the first contestants who made it into the competition is Darryl Shy who sang ‘Tatsulok‘, a song from a local Philippine band Bamboo. This is a surprise to one of the 4 coaches/ judges Bamboo Manalac, although Darryl went with Lea Salonga as his mentor.
In line of this, the author will use elements of Roland Barthes‘ essay ‘The Death of the Author‘ with the comparison of Darryl & Bamboo’s renditions of the song in mention. The essay is a proof of the essayist’s shift from Structuralism (his original background) to Post-Structuralism, which the essay of mention falls under.
Barthes once said that the author is a product of a culture, a reflection of a capitalist society concerned with the ownership & prestige of a certain individual. In this case, the author will name Bamboo as the author since he co-wrote the song, Darryl as the reader, the song as the text. He went on to say that the author doesn’t do the speaking, rather it’s the language that does the job. In other words, Bamboo doesn’t speak out, the lyrics stands as its own & speaks for itself for this matter.
Also, Barthes said that when analyzing a text, one must need to explore the writing & its structure, not finding the speaking voice. In this case, potential singing competition contestants should not focus on who’s singing the sing, rather they should analyze, or in this case, sing their chosen song as if they’re the ones singing them in the first place. In Darryl’s case, he sang Tatsulok as if he performed it many times.
Barthes went on to say that when a reader detaches a text from a specific source, this set the Text free from a ‘anchor’. Writing then turns into the very destruction of every voice and point of view. Therefore, the author dies in the moment of writing & ceases to exist. Amazingly, Darryl’s performance is far different from Bamboo’s rendition. Bamboo’s background on alternative and rock gave the song a rock tone everyone expects from a rock band, Darryl’s rendition gave it a softer, acoustic tone. Given this note, Bamboo dies a figurative death the moment Darryl sang his (Bamboo’s) masterpiece.
Barthes added that when the author dies, real writing begins, hence leading to the birth of real reading. He also said writing is a performance, not a documentation. The example here is a literal example of Barthes’ theory. He said that the birth of the Reader begins with the death of the Author. Here, Bamboo has to die a figurative death for him to listen Darryl’s own reading/ performance of one of his own songs (he mentions that at the beginning of the performance that ‘That’s mine’ in a sarcastic & joking tone) to see if he makes the final cut. The author of this is a witness of this, hence, her claim is true.
If a reader want to analyze the text, s/he must remove the author from the text for awhile, hence, a figurative death. Darryl had taken Bamboo from Tatsulok for awhile, therefore Bamboo die out figuratively for once. The author doesn’t mean that someone who made a piece of art or text dies the moment the reader takes him or her out of their masterpiece doesn’t really mean they die literally, it’s temporary. Hopefully, this application isn’t taken too literally to be understood. And hopefully, the two of them will agree with her with this article.

Both versions of the song:
* Bamboo version

* Darryl version


Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. New York City, New York, United States of America: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2001.

The Voice of the Philippines Pilot Episode (06-15-2013), ABS-CBN