The Pacific Ocean covers a third of the earth's surface and contains the deepest waters in the world. It is also a region with deep musical traditions, too, buffeted by the regular currents of colonists and explorers and now undergoing dramatic changes. Today, you can hear music ranging from ancestral navigational chants and glorious polyphonic singing to laments about nuclear testing.
The ethnic cultures of the Pacific can be divided into three main areas - Melanesia, lying mostly south of the equator, Micronesia, north of the equator above it, and Polynesia, spread over a huge area to the east. The Polynesian area stretches in a huge triangle from New Zealand in the southwest, to Easter Island, 8,000 km away in the southeast, to Hawaii, another 8,000 km to the north. It includes the Marquesas and Samoa. The music has fewer instruments than other areas, but the passion and harmonic content becomes greater. This song, a laulau siva is a short song that introduces an evening of dancing and singing. the singers are accompanied by an instrument made from a rolled mat. To hear a clip of Laulau Siva, click on the "play music" button" above.
"Laulau Siva" performed by men's choir, Solosolo on 'Music From Western Samoa,' a field recording by Ad and Lucia Linkels, 1982. Folkways Records FE 4270, 1984. Provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (FW04270_105). Used by Permission.
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