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The Contemporary Pacific 14.1 (2002) 284-285

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Book Review

Papers from Ivilikou: Papua New Guinea Music Conference and Festival (1997)

Papers from Ivilikou: Papua New Guinea Music Conference and Festival (1997), edited by Don Niles and Denis Crowdy. Port Moresby: Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies and University of Papua New Guinea, 2000. ISBN 9980-68-041-5, 182 pages plus accompanying audiotape (UPNGS 014), figures, maps, photographs. K30 plus postage.

Like the many diverse cultures that Papua New Guinea comprises, this book documents the diverse musical genres, practices, and expressions found there. The book brings together papers from the music conference held in Port Moresby in 1997. These papers are written not only by ethnomusicologists but also by musicians, linguists, anthropologists, lawyers, and music journalists, among others. The papers focus on different musical genres, different aspects of music, and copyright laws, and circumscribe a cornucopia of topics, ranging from traditional to popular and church music to issues of ownership and copyright laws. At the same time these papers focus on music from a variety of perspectives.

In the section on "Traditional Music and Changing Contexts," Julie Toliman-Turalir's first article examines the different traditional classification of Tolai music and dance such as high status dances, middle status dances, and general music and dance. She argues that in Tolai society, "music and dance are classified in order of a man's status, which is determined by spiritual power, sacredness and wealth" (50). She explains that in Tolai society the definition of music is expanded to include sound, dance, song, story, musical instruments, costume, design, and language. Indeed, this stretches the western definition of music.

An interesting paper is one by Otto Nekitel. Although his paper is not strictly on music but on whistled speech, the fact of the matter is that in many indigenous societies language lies within the parameters of the definition of music. Nekitel's paper therefore cuts across linguistic and musical boundaries. Whistled speech was developed among the Abu?-Wam speech community of Papua New Guinea. This form of communication, developed essentially to "meet natural socio-topographic conditions" (73), is [End Page 284] of interest because it is employed by few societies in the world.

Andrew Strathern and Pamela Stewart discuss ballads as a popular performance art among the Melpa people, while Virginia Whitney talks about how Akoye music reflects the individual nature of Akoye culture.

In the section on "Popular Music," a number of papers prevail. The paper by Jun'ichiro Suwa discusses a "relatively recent genre of stringband music" which he calls, sore singsing (mourning song). While mourning songs are not new, what is new here is the deployment of introduced musical instruments. Sore singsing is sung to "show respect to the deceased" (7). The basic characteristic of this genre is the use of the imagery of the sailing canoe as a circumlocution to refer to someone's death: "the canoe has just sailed away" is a metaphor for the dead person's departure from the land of the living.

Michael Webb discusses the provenance of popular music in Rabaul. He associates the rise with Paul Cheong, of mixed Chinese and New Ireland parentage. According to Webb, Cheong was a versatile musician who could impersonate big-time singers like Louis Armstrong and other musicians of the fifties and sixties. At the same time, Cheong was seen by the Rabaul mixed-raced community as their point of identity, as representing the mixed-raced community, and was raised to a cult figure.

The section on "Church Music" features articles by ethnomusicologist Don Niles, Helen Lawrence, Clement Gima, and Alexander Henning, among others. Don Niles provides an analysis of the different approaches to Papua New Guinean hymnody and focuses on the ways different churches have created their Christian hymnodies and in so doing created individual church identities.

Clement Gima on the other hand discusses how leleki, a type of musical genre that used to be associated with the spirits of the dead, has been appropriated into church music. Alexander Henning looks at...


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