Contemporary Melanesian Song No. 10

‘Morobe Feeling’ by Jokema, Papua New Guinea [Source: YouTube] This song is interesting for the way its lyrics feature what I call “mapping” [lyrics to be posted soon] and music video features “flagging” – face painting using the colours of the Morobe Provincial flag  (green, yellow and blue). Also note how it briefly blends in […]

Contemporary Melanesian Song No. 9

Unidentified bamboo band from Gizo, Western Province, Solomon Islands [Source: YouTube] This (unfortunately) brief clip demonstrates how bamboo [PVC!] bands require considerable coordination and synchronization. The switch to the “reggae” offbeat/chops at the 0:09 point lift the excitement immediately. The gender division in performance is interesting: boys on bamboos, girls in the choir. The “drum” is […]

Contemporary Melanesian Song No. 8

‘Respecting One Another’ by Stan Antas of Vanuatu (2014) [Source: YouTube] This reggae song by Ni-Vanuatu musician, Stanleyson Antas, lead singer of the reggae band The Earth Force (and featuring school children from around Efate Island), was sponsored by UNICEF to raise awareness of bullying and violence in schools. I features a bilingual lyric – English and Bislama […]

Contemporary Melanesian Song No. 7

String band song in “Yanger” style from Halmahera Island, Maluku, Indonesia [Source: YouTube]. Interestingly, the strumming rhythm pattern is very similar to that used by Black Paradise (Contemporary Melanesian Song No. 6), and the bass instrument on the left is similar to that from the Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua (see Contemporary Melanesian Song […]

Contemporary Melanesian Song No. 5

‘Subela’ by Siokole Contemporary Dancers from Tulangi, Solomon Islands [Source: YouTube] The Siokole Contemporary Dancers of Tulagi in the Solomon Islands, “revise old traditional songs and dances with a blend of modern Instruments and sounds”. The song in this clip is sung in the Gela language of Central Province and refers to the sighting by Islanders of […]

Contemporary Melanesian Song No. 4

‘Baselaia Ne Wetr’ by Roumadyval from Lifou, New Caledonia [Source: YouTube] This song updates the kaneka sound of New Caledonia and features the light, sweet voice of Rouamdyval of the Wetr district of Lifou in the Loyalty Islands, who is one of the few solo women performers of kaneka. Characteristic of the genre is the reggae-like offbeat […]

Contemporary Melanesian song No. 3

Stringband song from Wendehsi near the Bird’s Head Peninsula of West Papua‘s north coast. [Source: YouTube] This clip begins with a scenic tour – the stringband only comes into view at the 0:56 mark. It reveals something of the spirit of the Melanesian stringband in its early years around the 1950s: the participatory performance of a song […]

Contemporary Melanesian Song No. 2

‘Climate Change Song’ by the Ponai String Band of Ahus Island, Manus Province, Papua New Guinea [Source: YouTube] The unique and intricate Manus stringband style and tradition continues on Ahus Island. There used to be some speculation that the rapid interlocking picking patterns were related to the garamut ensemble music of the various islands of Manus […]

Contemporary Melanesian Song No. 1

I’m beginning a series of (re)posts of various clips of contemporary Melanesian songs and music making. I’ll endeavour to make brief and useful analytical comments on the music. I have no specific aim other than to attempt to make more widely known the diversity and ingenuity of musical expression in this Pacific Island region, but also […]