Music of French Polynesia

Last updated

The music of French Polynesia came to the forefront of the world music scene in 1992, with the release of The Tahitian Choir's recordings of unaccompanied vocal Christian music called himene tārava, recorded by French musicologist Pascal Nabet-Meyer. This form of singing is common in French Polynesia and the Cook Islands, and is distinguished by a unique drop in pitch at the end of the phrases, which is a characteristic formed by several different voices; it is also accompanied by steady grunting of staccato, nonsensical syllables.

French Polynesia French overseas country in the Southern Pacific ocean

French Polynesia is an overseas collectivity of the French Republic and the only overseas country of France. It is composed of 118 geographically dispersed islands and atolls stretching over an expanse of more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) in the South Pacific Ocean. Its total land area is 4,167 square kilometres (1,609 sq mi).

World music is a musical category encompassing many different styles of music from around the globe, which includes many genres including some forms of Western music represented by folk music, Jazz, as well as selected forms of ethnic music, indigenous music, neotraditional music, and music where more than one cultural tradition, such as ethnic music and Western popular music, intermingle.

The Tahitian Choir is a choral group from the island known as Rapa Iti, one of the Bass Islands in the South Pacific, approximately 1,000 miles southeast of Tahiti. The choir is made up of 126 men and women. Their music portrays their traditional Tahitian life and dialect and has been recorded on two albums and one re-release, recordings produced by Pascal Nabet Meyer.


See also

Tahitian Drumming

Related Research Articles

Tahiti Island in the Southern Pacific Ocean

Tahiti (; French pronunciation: ​[ta.iti]; previously also known as Otaheite is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia. The island is located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the central Southern Pacific Ocean, and is divided into two parts: the bigger, northwestern part, Tahiti Nui, and the smaller, southeastern part, Tahiti Iti. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous with surrounding coral reefs. The population is 189,517 inhabitants, making it the most populous island of French Polynesia and accounting for 68.7% of its total population.

In Tahiti and adjacent islands, the term Maohi refers to the ancestors of the Polynesian peoples.

The music of the Cook Islands is diverse. Christian music is extremely popular. Imene tuki is a form of unaccompanied vocal music known for a uniquely Polynesian drop in pitch at the end of the phrases, as well as staccato rhythmic outbursts of nonsensical syllables (tuki). The word 'imene' is derived from the English word 'hymn'. Likewise the harmonies and tune characteristics / 'strophe patterns' of much of the music of Polynesia is western in style and derived originally from missionary influence via hymns and other church music. One unique quality of Polynesian music is the use of the sustained 6th chord in vocal music, though typically the 6th chord is not used in religious music. Traditional songs and hymns are referred to as imene metua.

Tahitian is a Polynesian language, spoken mainly on the Society Islands in French Polynesia. It belongs to the Eastern Polynesian group.

Music of Tahiti

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the music of Tahiti was dominated by festivals called heiva. Dancing was a vital part of Tahitian life then, and dances were used to celebrate, pray and mark almost every occasion of life. Examples include the men's ʻōteʻa dance and the couple's 'upaʻupa.

Windward Islands (Society Islands) the eastern group of the Society Islands in French Polynesia

The Windward Islands are the eastern group of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the southern Pacific Ocean. These islands were originally named the Georgian Islands in honor of King George III of the United Kingdom.

Leeward Islands (Society Islands) archipelago in French Polynesia

The Leeward Islands are the western part of the Society Islands in French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the South Pacific. They lie south of the Line Islands, east of the Cooks and north of the Austral Islands. Their area is 395 km² with a population of over 33,000. The islands to the west comprise a three atoll group: Manuae, Motu One atoll, lying most northerly of the Leeward Islands, and to the southeast Maupihaa atoll. More to the east lies a mainly high island cluster consisting of Maupiti, Tupai atoll, Bora Bora, the most known of the Leeward Islands in the western world due to its World War II United States naval base and subsequent tourism industry, Tahaa, lying just north of the largest island of the group, Raiatea which possesses the largest city and local capital of the Leeward Islands, namely Uturoa, as well as the highest elevation, the just over 1,000 m mount Tefatua, and finally the easternmost island of the group, Huahine which at high tide is divided into two: Huahine Nui to the north and Huahine Iti to the south.

Himene tarava is a style of traditional Tahitian music, sung a cappella in a highly rhythmic style by polyphonic choirs. The word tarava means to be spread out, to be gathered. This form of singing is common in French Polynesia and the Cook Islands, and is distinguished by a unique drop in pitch at the end of the phrases, which is a characteristic formed by several different voices; it is also accompanied by steady grunting of staccato, nonsensical syllables by the men.

Assembly of French Polynesia Parliament of French Polynesia

The Assembly of French Polynesia is the unicameral legislature of French Polynesia, an overseas country of the French Republic. It is located at Place Tarahoi in Papeete, Tahiti. It was established in its current form in 1996 although a Tahitian Assembly was first created in 1824. It consists of 57 members who are elected by popular vote for five years; the electoral system is based upon proportional representation in six multi-seat constituencies. Every constituency is represented by at least three representatives. Since 2001, the parity bill binds that the number of women matches the number of men elected to the Assembly.

Tahitian Football Federation

The Tahitian Football Federation is the governing body of football in French Polynesia.

"La Coco-Dance" was the Monegasque entry in the Eurovision Song Contest 2006, performed in French and Tahitian by Séverine Ferrer. This was the first - and to date, the only - occasion on which the Tahitian language was used at the Contest.

Coat of arms of French Polynesia coat of arms

The Coat of arms of French Polynesia consists of an outrigger depicted in a disc over a stylized emblem of sun and sea; this is very similar to other arms in the region, for example the Coat of arms of Kiribati.

Tahitian ukulele

The Tahitian ukulele is a short-necked fretted lute with eight nylon strings in four doubled courses, native to Tahiti and played in other regions of Polynesia. This variant of the older Hawaiian ukulele is noted by a higher and thinner sound and an open back, and is often strummed much faster.

Index of French Polynesia-related articles Wikimedia list article

This page list topics related to French Polynesia.

Tahitians ethnic group

The Tahitians, or Maohis, are a nation and Polynesian ethnic group native to Tahiti and thirteen other Society Islands in French Polynesia, as well as the modern population of these lands of multiracial, primarily Polynesian-French, ancestry. The Tahitians are one of the largest indigenous Polynesian ethnic groups, behind the Māori, Samoans and Hawaiians.

Pouvanaa a Oopa French Polynesian politician

Pouvanaa a Oopa was a French politician and Tahitian nationalist, who led a Tahitian separatist movement against French rule, before being exiled to France in the late 1950s.

Tahitian pearl

The Tahitian pearl is an organic gem formed from the black lip oyster. These pearls derive their name from the fact that they are primarily cultivated around the islands of French Polynesia, around Tahiti.

Vanilla production in French Polynesia

Vanilla production contributes to the local economy of French Polynesia. Although it was a major export crop after its introduction by the French in 1848, vanilla is no longer a significant export product.


International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

Musée dethnographie de Genève museum in Geneva (Switzerland)

The Musée d'ethnographie de Genève is one of the most important ethnographic museums in Switzerland.