Kanak Dance and Music: Ceremonial and Intimate Performance of the Melanesians of New Caledonia, Historical and Actual

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Agence de développement de la culture kanak, 1997 - Music - 285 pages
It can be difficult for urbanized folk to imagine a world where the daily sounds are those of nature and of the small noises of human work and voices. How much more difficult is it to imagine the incredible impact of the ancient musical dancing ceremonies of the Oceanic tribes of the Kanak? It is evident that these ceremonies, named pilou-pilou by the first French missionaries, had great importance in Kanak life, and that they were the most tremendous acoustical events to be heard in that world. The beating of bark-clappers and the stamping of bamboo tubes was combined with part-songs by two singers, accompanied by the shouting, cries, and whistles of hundreds of dancers. All this must have left an indelible mark on the aural sensations of the participants. After such ceremonies, that world returned to the sounds of nature. Today the Kanak aural world has entirely changed. People are used to the noise of cars and machines, to the wonders of modernization, and even to those living in rural areas the presence of machine noises is so prevalent that the seas and the forests may now seem dulled. This examination of Kanak Music and Dance proves a marvellous kind of time capsule, a way to see into a past environment through a persisting tradition.

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About the author (1997)

Raymond Ammann is an ethnomusicologist at the Agence de Developpement de la Culture Kanak.

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