MICRONESIA MUSIC

 

The traditional music of Micronesia was composed utilizing mythology, magic, rituals and closely guarded procedures handed down from one generation to the next.

 

In common with the people of Polynesia and Melanesia, the people of Micronesia have a deep love of music from contemporary to traditional. Music can be heard in the early morning while the toddy cutters are at work, in the babai or taro pits, and until late at night to the accompaniment of the traditional dance.

Small children as young as two years of age will sing songs many of which are both difficult and traditional. Old people can often be heard sing to their small grand children while they are minding them.

Cultural and Historical music/dance images available upon request only
 
The interpretation of the traditional music in the form of dance and song
produces an exciting, intense and emotionally draining spectacle (Caroline Islands)

The origins of traditional music are generally quite obscure with the music having been handed down by older folk to the younger children. Composing traditional music involves a considerable amount of ritualism and magic. The composer does not compose the music himself, but rather the song or songs are given to the composers in a mythical setting - possibly in a  dream or a trance. The task of the composer is then to follow the secret methodology that their predecessors had passed on to them to produce a song that is regarded as being magically blessed.

 

The second method of composing songs is one which involves no magic and results from somebody wishing to have a song made for him. In this case, the person tells the story to be told to the composer who listens intently and full of concentration. At a later time, the composer may ask for further information and the person requesting the song must provide all the needed details.  The most commonly composed songs of this nature are love songs. These are often about love for someone you will never see again or a place that you have left behind. The most popular ones, however, are about love between a boy and a girl, a man and a woman or a husband and a wife.

Micronesian dancers

 

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The same process is also used for wedding songs, competition songs, religious songs, war songs, dance music and children's songs. The composer has to know what song you want and he must be provided with all the information to do it.

The third manner in which a song may be composed is when, occasionally, a composer may wish to compose an original song. In this case the composer first works on firstly developing the tune by humming it. When this is completed he will then think about the words to go with the music until a very original composition results.

 

Beet is a typically Marshallese, yet Spanish influenced folk dance which is very popular in the Marshall Islands. The men and women dancers move in parallel lines in a side-stepping fashion which requires great concentration and hours of practice. The original music for beet is featured on Jane's Pacific Islands Radio Stations below.

 

 
A range of traditional and contemporary Micronesian music is featured on Jane's Pacific Islands Radio Stations. These include the songs Te Karuo an older chant which is a love song about a girl who came from somewhere and stole the heart of a local boy. The Sunday morning service is from Ujelang Atoll and is about the congregation of the Protestant's Church quietly assembling for Sunday devotion. The cradle song is a lullaby in which the grandmother of a nine month old baby girl sings the baby to sleep in a suspended wooden cradle. The sound of the sennit rubbing against the cradle is heard as the cradle is rocked. Finally, there is a pause, then a few more creaks then the baby is fast asleep.

 

Pacific Islands Radio Stations
Micronesia Music Radio 33K
Micronesia Home Page
Micronesia Postcards and Picture Galleries

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