Music of Fiji

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Fiji is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. Though geographically Melanesian, the music of Fiji is more Polynesian in character. Nevertheless, Fijian folk styles are distinct in their fusion of Polynesian and Melanesian traditions. Folk music is dominated by vocal church music, as well as dances characterized by rich and dull harmony and complex percussion made from slit drums or natural materials, like drums!

Fiji Country in Oceania

Fiji, officially the Republic of Fiji, is an island country in Melanesia, part of Oceania in the South Pacific Ocean about 1,100 nautical miles northeast of New Zealand's North Island. Its closest neighbours are Vanuatu to the west, New Caledonia to the southwest, New Zealand's Kermadec Islands to the southeast, Tonga to the east, the Samoas and France's Wallis and Futuna to the northeast, and Tuvalu to the north. Fiji consists of an archipelago of more than 330 islands—of which 110 are permanently inhabited—and more than 500 islets, amounting to a total land area of about 18,300 square kilometres (7,100 sq mi). The most outlying island is Ono-i-Lau. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, account for 87% of the total population of 898,760. The capital, Suva, on Viti Levu, serves as the country's principal cruise-ship port. About three-quarters of Fijians live on Viti Levu's coasts, either in Suva or in smaller urban centres such as Nadi—where tourism is the major local industry—or Lautoka, where the sugar-cane industry is paramount. Due to its terrain, the interior of Viti Levu is sparsely inhabited.

Pacific Ocean Ocean between Asia and Australia in the west, the Americas in the east and Antarctica or the Southern Ocean in the south.

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south and is bounded by Asia and Australia in the west and the Americas in the east.

Melanesia subregion of Oceania

Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from New Guinea island in the southwestern Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji.


Folk music

Fijian music band at arrivals hall of Nadi International airport Nadi International airport 11.jpg
Fijian music band at arrivals hall of Nadi International airport

Like their Polynesian neighbours, modern Fijians play guitar, ukulele and mandolin along with a variety of indigenous instruments, most commonly lali drums, which are now used to call the people of an area together. Lali drums were an important part of traditional Fijian culture, used as a form of communication to announce births, deaths and wars. A smaller form of the lali drum (lali ni meke) is used as a form in instrumentation. Meke is a kind of spiritual folk dance, in which dancers bodies are said to be possessed by spirits. Other percussion instruments include the derua, which are tubes made of bamboo which are stamped on mats or on the ground. Other dances included the women's dele , which humiliated enemy prisoners sex, and the men's cibi , which uses spears and clubs .

Indo-Fijian music

Indian music draws heavily from rural North Indian and some of the Southern states in India. Most popular are Bhajans - a devotional music based accompanied by harmonium and dholak (drums). Many Indians now also export bhajan CDs for large Fiji Indian diaspora in Canada, United States, Australia and New Zealand. Jazz too, has become increasingly popular as cultural horizons have broadened.

Music of India Includes multiple varieties of classical music, folk music, filmi, Indian rock and Indian pop

The music of India includes multiple varieties of classical music, folk music, filmi, Indian rock and Indian pop. India's classical music tradition, including Hindustani music and Carnatic, has a history spanning millennia and developed over several areas. Music in India began as an integral part of socio-religious life.

Bhajan A free form singing of poems or hymns in Indian traditions

A bhajan literally means "sharing". It also refers to any song with religious theme or spiritual ideas, in a regional languages from the Indian subcontinent.

Pump organ keyboard instrument sounded by vibration of metal reeds

The pump organ, reed organ, harmonium, or melodeon is a type of free-reed organ that generates sound as air flows past a vibrating piece of thin metal in a frame. The piece of metal is called a reed.


According to Qawaali/Ghazal singer Ustad Sheikh Mohyudean (August 1, 1920 – January 1, 2015) and Indian Classical musician Cassius Khan, the Qawaali has undergone a major transformation in Fiji. Because of the lack of classically trained tabla players who came to Fiji in the late 1900s, after their demise, some qawaali musicians started playing with dholak players who only knew how to accompany the Bhajan, and therefore incorporated a new style of music. When the trend caught on, some Bhajan singers also tried their voices in qawaali, and brought Bihari elements into the music known as "Phagua gayaki" an ancient bhajan singing style in Bihar, India. The classical qawaali style slowly took a back seat to this new style of singing, but has been snubbed by purists because of its non connection to qawaali. The word Qawaali means "utterance in the name of Allah." Qawaali in Fiji is rhythmically more challenging with a firm emphasis on percussion rather than the more traditional aspect which focuses on lyrics.

Ghazal poetic form in south and middle east Asia in different languages

The ghazal is a form of amatory poem or ode, originating in Arabic poetry. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain.

Cassius Khan Indian musician

Cassius Khan, is a Canadian Indian classical musician known for playing the Tabla while singing.

Tabla musical instrument

The tabla is a membranophone percussion instrument originating from the Indian subcontinent, consisting of a pair of drums, used in traditional, classical, popular and folk music. It has been a particularly important instrument in Hindustani classical music since the 18th century, and remains in use in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The name tabla likely comes from tabl, the Persian and Arabic word for drum. However, the ultimate origin of the musical instrument is contested by scholars, some tracing it to West Asia, others tracing it to the evolution of indigenous musical instruments of the Indian subcontinent. Some famous Tabla players include Pandit Chatur Lal, Pt. Kishan Maharaj, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ustad Allah Rakha Qureshi, Pandit Yogesh Samsi, Pandit Swapan Chaudhary, Pandit Suresh Talwalkar and Pandit Anindo Chatterjee.

Ghazal and Thumri

Mushtari Begum (Dec 25th 1934–March 14, 2004) was the first Indian Ghazal/Thumri exponent from Lucknow, India who resided in Fiji. She was a disciple of her father Ustad Amjad Ali, a Thumri exponent. She later learned in India from greats such as Ustad Faiyaz Khan and Shamla Bhave of Bangalore, India. Her extraordinary vocal capabilities in her voice ranged close to 4 octaves and in her prime, quickly ruled the charts of Fiji's music industry. In her career she won 36 trophies and numerous recognitions and awards between 1947 and 1973. She was awarded the title "Malika-e-Ghazal" or Queen of Ghazal by the Indian High Consulate in 1973.

Lucknow Metropolis in Uttar Pradesh, India

Lucknow is the capital city of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and is also the administrative headquarters of the eponymous district and division. It is the eleventh most populous city and the twelfth most populous urban agglomeration of India. Lucknow has always been known as a multicultural city that flourished as a North Indian cultural and artistic hub, and the seat of power of Nawabs in the 18th and 19th centuries. It continues to be an important centre of governance, administration, education, commerce, aerospace, finance, pharmaceuticals, technology, design, culture, tourism, music and poetry.

India Country in South Asia

India, also known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

Bangalore Capital of Karnataka, India

Bangalore, officially known as Bengaluru, is the capital city of the Indian state of Karnataka. It has a population of over ten million, making it a megacity and the third most populous city and fifth most populous urban agglomeration in India. It is located in southern India on the Deccan Plateau at an elevation of over 900 m (3,000 ft) above sea level, which is the highest among India's major cities. It reflects its multireligious and cosmopolitan character by its more than 1000 temples, 400 mosques, 100 churches, 40 Jain derasars, three Sikh gurdwaras, two Buddhist viharas and one Parsi fire temple located in an area of 741 km² of the metropolis. The religious places are further represented to include the few members of the Jewish community who are making their presence known through the Chabad that they propose to establish in Bengaluru and the fairly large number of Bahá'ís whose presence is registered with a society called the Bahá'í Centre.

Internationally renowned star tabla player and ghazal wizard Cassius Khan ( June 7, 1974- ) born in Lautoka, Fiji has collaborated with some great world musicians and is the only known musician in the world who plays tabla and sings ghazals simultaneously. The senior disciple of the late Mushtari Begum, he is currently based in Vancouver, is recognized as one of the treasures of Canada as he has received the "Salute to Excellence" Award, and has many albums to his credit. Khan also made history as the first ever Indian Classical Ghazal/Tabla player who performed at the SXSW Festival in Austin Texas in 2008, and again at the Canada Music Week Festival in Toronto, Canada in 2009. One of his collaborations received a Juno Award in 2007. Khan also runs the Mushtari Begum Festival of Indian Classical Music and Dance in his hometown New Westminster, BC, Canada, which debuted in 2012.

Vancouver City in British Columbia, Canada

Vancouver is a coastal seaport city in western Canada, located in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia. As the most populous city in the province, the 2016 census recorded 631,486 people in the city, up from 603,502 in 2011. The Greater Vancouver area had a population of 2,463,431 in 2016, making it the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada. Vancouver has the highest population density in Canada with over 5,400 people per square kilometre, which makes it the fifth-most densely populated city with over 250,000 residents in North America behind New York City, Guadalajara, San Francisco, and Mexico City according to the 2011 census. Vancouver is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada according to that census; 52% of its residents have a first language other than English. Roughly 30% of the city's inhabitants are of Chinese heritage. Vancouver is classed as a Beta global city.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Canada's southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Its capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. As a whole, Canada is sparsely populated, the majority of its land area being dominated by forest and tundra. Consequently, its population is highly urbanized, with over 80 percent of its inhabitants concentrated in large and medium-sized cities, with 70% of citizens residing within 100 kilometres (62 mi) of the southern border. Canada's climate varies widely across its vast area, ranging from arctic weather in the north, to hot summers in the southern regions, with four distinct seasons.

The Juno Awards are presented annually to Canadian musical artists and bands to acknowledge their artistic and technical achievements in all aspects of music. New members of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame are also inducted as part of the awards ceremonies.

Dholak music

Notable Dholak player Sashi Roy is one of the leading exponents of Dholak playing who was born in Nadi, Fiji. He has incorporated a new technique of playing the "dholak tarang" style- playing multiple dholaks tuned in different notes in unison and is one of the most recognized soloists in this art form. He is currently residing in Edmonton, Canada.In contemporary times, Shailendra Prakash Sharma is particularly acclaimed in this artform. He has performed with a range of artists (local and from Bollywood) during concerts, and also played in a number of locally produced albums especially in fiji bhajan and fiji kirtan.

In the 1980s, Fijian performers like Laisa Vulakoro and Lagani Rabukawaqa became pan-Pacific stars. Vulakoro is especially well known for her part in creating "vude", a popular style that combines disco, country and island music (especially the meke rhythm) and rock and roll. [1]

Other modern performers include the bands Nuku Katudrau, Karuna Gopalan, Rosiloa (Black Rose), Danny Costello, [2] Michelle Rounds, Seru Serevi The Freelancers. [3] and Emosi Lomata who is well known across Fiji for his ongoing compositions and album releases over 30 years since the age of 11, recently performing in Australia in October 2008 with his band JES4P's.

Reggae is also a popular music genre in Fiji.

Notes and references

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