Music of Polynesia

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Polynesia is a group of island chains spread across much of the Pacific Ocean, and includes many countries and territories. Internationally, Polynesian music is mostly associated with twinkling guitars, grass skirts and beautiful relaxing sounds, Hawaiian hula and other tourist-friendly forms of music.[ citation needed ] While these elements are justifiably a part of Polynesian history and Polynesian culture, there is actually a wide variety of music made in the far-flung reaches of Polynesia.

Polynesia Subregion of Oceania

Polynesia is a subregion of Oceania, made up of more than 1,000 islands scattered over the central and southern Pacific Ocean. The indigenous people who inhabit the islands of Polynesia are termed Polynesians, and share many similar traits including language family, culture, and beliefs. Historically, they had a strong tradition of sailing and using stars to navigate at night. The largest country in Polynesia is New Zealand.

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.

Hawaii State of the United States of America

Hawaii is the 50th and most recent state to have joined the United States, having received statehood on August 21, 1959. Hawaii is the only U.S. state located in Oceania, the only U.S. state located outside North America, and the only one composed entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean.

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Aloha Oe, celebrated Hawaiian song.

Christian music

In the 1790s, Christian missionaries arrived in Polynesia for the first time. Hymns and other forms of Christian music were instituted, and native musical genres were driven underground and prohibited. Soon, traditional polyphonic singing was merged with Christian styles and church singing, and along with brass bands became an important part of Polynesian music culture across the Pacific.

Christianity is an Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.

Missionary member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism

A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to proselytize or perform ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin missionem, meaning "act of sending" or mittere, meaning "to send". The word was used in light of its biblical usage; in the Latin translation of the Bible, Christ uses the word when sending the disciples to preach The gospel in his name. The term is most commonly used for Christian missions, but can be used for any creed or ideology.

Hymn type of song specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer

A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. The word hymn derives from Greek ὕμνος (hymnos), which means "a song of praise". A writer of hymns is known as a hymnodist. The singing or composition of hymns is called hymnody. Collections of hymns are known as hymnals or hymn books. Hymns may or may not include instrumental accompaniment.

Some Polynesian islands have developed a cassette industry, most notably Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. In the 1980s, Fijian stars like Laisa Vulakoro and Lagani Rabukawaqa became popular across the Pacific.

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.

Tonga country in Oceania

Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian country and archipelago comprising 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited. The total surface area is about 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean. The sovereign state has a population of 100,651 people, of whom 70% reside on the main island of Tongatapu.

Samoa country in Oceania

Samoa, officially the Independent State ofSamoa and, until 4 July 1997, known as Western Samoa, is a country consisting of two main islands, Savai'i and Upolu, and four smaller islands. The capital city is Apia. The Lapita people discovered and settled the Samoan Islands around 3,500 years ago. They developed a unique Samoan language and Samoan cultural identity.

Steel guitar

Popular Hawaiian inspired musicians include steel guitarists Bill Sevesi and Bill Wolfgramm who led popular dance bands during the 1950s. [1]

Wilfred Jeffs, better known by the stage name Bill Sevesi, was a musician and master of the steel guitar who helped popularise Hawaiian-style music in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Bill Wolfgramm aka Bill Wolfgramme was a musician specialising in lap steel guitar and popular Hawaiian music. He was born in the island kingdom of Tonga and was also of German descent. He is the former leader of Bill Wolfgramm & His Islanders, a popular island band in New Zealand that played regularly at the Orange Ballroom, a historic dance venue in Auckland.

See also

The music of the Marshall Islands has a long history. The Marshall Islands are an independent island chain, geographically and culturally part of the Micronesian area. It was part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, governed by the United States, until independence in 1986.

Music of Tuvalu

The traditional music of Tuvalu consists of dances, including fatele, fakanau and fakaseasea. The influence of the Samoan missionaries sent to Tuvalu by the London Missionary Society from the 1860s resulted in the suppression of songs about the traditional religions or magic and many songs were lost. As the influence of the missionaries diminished in the 20th century the traditional dances were revived and the siva dance tradition from Samoa also became popular. The fatele, in its modern form, is performed at community events and to celebrate leaders and other prominent individuals.

Related Research Articles

Oceania Geographic region comprising Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia

Oceania is a geographic region comprising Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Spanning the eastern and western hemispheres, Oceania covers an area of 8,525,989 square kilometres (3,291,903 sq mi) and has a population of 40 million. Situated in the southeast of the Asia-Pacific region, Oceania, when compared to continental regions, is the smallest in land area and the second smallest in population after Antarctica.

Polynesian narrative Mythology in the South Pacific

The Polynesian narrative or Polynesian mythology encompasses the oral traditions of the people of Polynesia, a grouping of Central and South Pacific Ocean island archipelagos in the Polynesian Triangle together with the scattered cultures known as the Polynesian outliers. Polynesians speak languages that descend from a language reconstructed as Proto-Polynesian that was probably spoken in the Tonga - Samoa area around 1000 BC.

Polynesian languages Language family

The Polynesian languages form a language family spoken in geographical Polynesia and on a patchwork of outliers from south central Micronesia to small islands off the northeast of the larger islands of the southeast Solomon Islands and sprinkled through Vanuatu. Linguistic taxonomists classify them as a subgroup of the much larger and more varied Austronesian family, belonging to the Oceanic branch of that family.

Pacific Islander indigenous peoples of the Pacific Islands

Pacific Islanders or Pasifikas, are the peoples of the Pacific Islands. It is a geographic and often ethnic/racial term to describe the inhabitants of any of the three major sub-regions of Oceania: Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia. These people speak various Austronesian languages. New Zealand has the largest concentration of Pacific Islanders in the world. However, the majority of its people are not identified as Pacific Islanders—instead during the 20th century and into the 21st century the country saw a steady stream of immigration from Polynesian countries such as Samoa, Tonga, the Cook Islands, Niue and French Polynesia.

In Polynesian mythology, Hawaiki is the original home of the Polynesians, before dispersal across Polynesia. It also features as the underworld in many Māori stories.

Music of Tonga refers to music derived from the island Tonga in the islands of Polynesia. Music of Tonga today generally falls under the category of traditional music that has withstood the test of time, or into one of the two opposing genres of religious and secular music. Tongan music can be either very emotional and somewhat modern with instrumental makeup including modern brass instruments, or conversely can be very primitive and consist of only drums and voices. In this way, Tongan music is very diverse despite the fact that it is contained to a fairly small island, which means that the different cultures and styles co-exist on the small land mass together without blending.

Polynesians are an ethnolinguistic group of closely related peoples who are native to Polynesia, an expansive region of Oceania in the Pacific Ocean. They are part of the larger Austronesian ethnolinguistic group who trace their urheimat to Southeast Asia. They speak the Polynesian languages, a branch of the Oceanic subfamily of the Austronesian language family.

Lapita culture Neolithic archeological culture

The Lapita culture was a prehistoric Pacific Ocean people who flourished in the Pacific Islands from about 1600 BCE to about 500 BCE. Archaeologists believe that the Lapita are the ancestors of historic cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some coastal areas of Melanesia. The characteristics of the Lapita culture are the extension of human settlement to previously uninhabited islands scattered over a large area in the Pacific Ocean, the spread of Oceanic languages in that area, the distinctive geometric dentate-stamped pottery, and the use and widespread distribution of obsidian.

Polynesian Triangle region of the Pacific Ocean with three island groups at its corners

The Polynesian Triangle is a region of the Pacific Ocean with three island groups at its corners: Hawaiʻi, Easter Island and New Zealand (Aotearoa). It is often used as a simple way to define Polynesia.

Polynesian culture the culture of the indigenous people of the Polynesian islands.

Polynesian culture is the culture of the indigenous peoples of Polynesia who share common traits in language, customs and society. Sequentially, the development of Polynesian culture can be divided into four different historical eras:

Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd,, is one of the oldest publishers in New Zealand. It was founded in 1907 by A.H. Reed and is based in Auckland, New Zealand. It is a New Zealand literature specialist and general titles publisher, relesing over 100 titles a year including a number of significant New Zealand authors such as Barry Crump, Janet Frame and Witi Ihimaera.

Polynesian navigation

Traditional Polynesian navigation was used for thousands of years to make long voyages across thousands of miles of the open Pacific Ocean. Navigators travelled to small inhabited islands using wayfinding techniques and knowledge passed by oral tradition from master to apprentice, often in the form of song. Generally each island maintained a guild of navigators who had very high status; in times of famine or difficulty they could trade for aid or evacuate people to neighboring islands. As of 2014, these traditional navigation methods are still taught in the Polynesian outlier of Taumako Island in the Solomons.

Roger Curtis Green American born New Zealand archaeologist

Roger Curtis Green was an American-born, New Zealand-based archaeologist, Professor Emeritus at The University of Auckland, and member of the National Academy of Sciences and Royal Society of New Zealand. He was awarded the Hector and Marsden Medals and was an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contributions to the study of Pacific culture history.

Polynesian Leaders Group

The Polynesian Leaders Group (PLG) is an international governmental cooperation group bringing together eight independent or self-governing countries or territories in Polynesia.

Mormonism and Pacific Islanders

Relations between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the natives of the Pacific Island groups of Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia and surrounding island groups are quite complex.

Culture of the Cook Islands

The culture of the Cook Islands reflects the traditions of its fifteen islands as a Polynesian island country, spread over 1,800,000 square kilometres (690,000 sq mi) in the South Pacific Ocean. It is in free association with New Zealand. Its traditions are based on the influences of those who settled the islands over several centuries. Polynesian people from Tahiti settled in the Cook Islands in the 6th century. The Portuguese captain, Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, made the first recorded European landing in the islands in the early 17th century, and well over a hundred years later, in the 18th century, the British navigator, Captain James Cook arrived, giving the islands their current name. Missionaries developed a written language, bringing schools and Christianity to the Cook Islands in the early 19th century. Cook Islands Māori, also known as Māori Kūki 'Āirani or Rarotongan, is the country's official language.

Chulu Chululu sometimes referred to as Chululu is a Fijian song that has been covered by a multitude of artists ranging from Peter Posa to Bill Sevesi & His Islanders. An English version of this song was a hit for Bill and Boyd.

References

  1. "The history of recording in New Zealand". National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 20 July 2010.
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