MICRONESIA MUSIC ANTHOLOGY

           

The people of Micronesia migrated out of Asia some five thousands years ago and settled the islands of the present day Micronesia which, with the exception of Kiribati, straddling the equator, are all in the Northern Hemisphere. Micronesia includes the following countries: the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia comprising Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Yap, as well as the Republic of Palau, Saipan and Guam.

The traditional music of Micronesia is distinctively different from other regions of the Pacific. This music employs very few instruments with the main instruments being conch shell horns, sticks, and the "box" which is beaten by a multitude of hands to provide a beat to accompany the singing which always predominates.

With no written language to pass on the cultural heritage from one generation to the next, the traditional music of Micronesia encompasses the rich tapestry of tradition, spiritualism and culture of the Micronesian people.

Since the coming of the Europeans, many Micronesians have watched many of their cultural traditions erode over the decades of colonial rule. From the coming of the Spanish and then the Germans and the Japanese after World War I, followed by the Americans, the cultural values of the Micronesian people were placed in jeopardy. 

Micronesian chants have a haunting, melismatic quality about them which reflect the resilience of time-honoured seafarers who once sailed by the stars, the wave patterns and the movements of the birds as well as the distant cloud formations. Micronesian chants are highly spiritual and normally involved a call to a mythological god or an ancestor for their help and assistance in an endeavour about to be undertaken.   

A chant performed by a Kiribati man and woman
on the occasion of the dawning of the new millennium
at Millennium Island, Line Islands, Republic of Kiribati

A chant performed inside the maneaba (meeting place),
Republic of Kiribati

The traditional songs of Micronesia are a reflection of the lifestyle of the Micronesian people. They sing of the daily events that are very much part of their existence. These include such things as fishing, toddy cutting and canoe building. Also, there are the beautiful traditional love songs composed according to strict procedures by those people who are recognized as having the necessary magic to create inspirational and meaningful love songs.

A conch shell being blown at the dawning of the new millennium
at Millennium Island, Line Islands, Republic of Kiribati

Conch shell being blown at the opening of the
new Kiribati Parliament House, 14th October, 2000

The information contained on this Web site is to accompany and introduce an anthology of Micronesian music. This anthology contains over forty traditional and contemporary chants and songs from Micronesia and will shortly be featured as a special program on Micronesia Music Radio.

 

 

Some of the material presented include:

KIRIBATI

Te Kamei - standing dance
Te Bino - sitting dance
Te Katake Chant
Toddy Cutting Songs

MARSHALL ISLANDS

Aeroplane Song
Jebua - Stick Dance
Presentation of Food
Beet - Folk Dance
 
KOSRAE
 
Seamen's Dance
Micro Palm - copra boat
 
POHNPEI
 
Kepia/Dokia - stick dance

CHUUK

Ordination Song
Navigators of Pulusuk
Death of Titlap - Puluwat
Navigators of Puluwat - Rellong, Puluwat
Men's Standing Dance - Lukaf, Pulap

YAP

Dances of Satawal
a) Men's Stick Dance
b) Women's Sitting Dance
c) Marhing Dance
 
Chants and Dances of Yap
a) Bamboo Dance
b) A Welcome Song
c) A Love Song
d) Stone Money Chant

PALAU

Palauan Chant - Ngehesar, Babeldaop
Birds of Helen Reef - Hatrohobei State

Micronesia Music

Micronesia Home Page

Micronesia Postcards and Picture Galleries

Oceania Postcards and Picture Galleries

Jane Resture's Oceania Page

Jane's Oceania Travel Page

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