Oceania Music and Dance
In Oceania, music and dance constitute an integrated art form, performed by
singing or playing groups dancing at the same time. Vocal music is more common
than instrumental music; however, slit drums of hollowed-out tree trunks and
conch trumpets are widespread.
In Polynesia, vocal music and dance are based on poetry composed and
choreographed by especially knowledgeable people. At public events, dance dances
are performed, which praise chiefs and pay homage to their lineage, stories are
told through song poems with recitation, mass and speech singing, while hand and
arm movements illustrate particular words; only men run and jump. Traditional
polyphony (among other things based on bordun) is common, except in New
Zealand's Maori, who sing unanimously on a few notes. On the large islands,
several instruments such as cylindrical drums and the famous nose whistles
Offers an alphabetical list of independent nations and dependent territories
in Oceania. Also includes area and population for each Australian country.
Micronesia's music and dance were used in tattoo rituals, which have now
almost ceased. Here, too, the poems are crucial, and hand and arm movements
adorn the story abstractly instead of illustrating it. The sea is an important
theme and stick dancing is typical.
In Melanesia, music is used during ceremonies at rites of passage, secret
societies, the inauguration of large clefts, etc. The instruments that are of
greater importance here include whistles, pan flutes, rattles and
hourglass-shaped drums. In larger rituals, the instruments illuminate voices
from supernatural beings, who are also personified with masks, costumes, and
ceremonial ornaments worn on the arms, while resilient movements with legs and
body carry the rhythmic pulse. The melody is most often pentatonic or consists
of three notes at a third distance (such as CEG) in addition to other types. In
Papua New Guinea, music and dance are predominantly collective with responsorial
In the Solomon Islands, pan flute groups play and dance composed pieces of
music that illustrate the sounds of nature and human phenomena. The song is
improvised and polyphonic.
The presence of Western culture on the major Polynesian islands since the
1800's. has meant the introduction of ukulele and of hymn singing in choral
style. The Tahitian heavens combine Polynesian and European elements.
Western-influenced popular music was initially Hawaiian style, since
pan-Polynesian pop (around World War II), followed by the Melanesian
contribution of Pan-Pacific Pop. The Fenua Band (Tahiti and Hawaii) and the
Apiti Band (Cook Islands) are current groups in the 1990's.
New Caledonia, Nouvelle-Calédonie, French overseas territory in the
southwestern Pacific. The territory includes the island of New Caledonia (Grande
Terre), the smaller archipelagos Loyalty and Chesterfield Islands, Île des
Pins and several small islands; a total of 18,575 km2, 230,800
residents (2004). Hovedby: Noumea.
New Caledonia is one of the last real colonies of the world and in many ways
an anachronism. Here, exclusive French ways of life are found side by side with
the original Kanak culture, and the area is one of very few that
receives official support for independence efforts under the official
auspices of the UN. Locally, the independence movement is led by the Front de
libération nationale, kanake et socialiste, FLNKS.
43% of the population are Canaanites, the native Melanesians; 37%
are white, mainly French, 8% are immigrants from Wallis and Futuna, while the
rest come from Vietnam, Indonesia and Polynesia. Most of the residents are
Christians, predominantly Roman Catholic.
New Caledonia's economy is broadly based with a significant agricultural
sector (copra, coffee, local food, cattle and sheep farming), forestry, fishing
and some tourism, but the background to the continued French interest is
especially the significant mineral deposits, including some of the world's
largest nickel reserves. Nickel production is the world's third largest (after
Canada and Russia); the ore is processed at large smelters on the island and
exported. Iron and manganese are also mined and exported as ore.
Since the 1960's, while the rest of the world's colonies became independent,
New Caledonia has received significant immigration of whites. Many of them are
Frenchmen from former French colonies, who here have been able to continue their
colonial lifestyle in a corner of the world where development has not gone so
fast. Along the way, there have been many riots with militant kanak groups,
but a large contingent of the French military has so far been able to
defend the interests of the white minority.
The island of New Caledonia is formed as a fragment of the Indo-Australian
Continental Plate, which was separated from Australia by plate tectonic
movements for approximately 65 million years ago. It is located in a zone where
subduction (subduction) occurs towards the Pacific plate, whereby very strongly
folded and metamorphosed rocks have formed. In a late phase of the shear are
ultramafic, ie. olivine- and pyroxene-rich, rocks from the Pacific plate shot up
over the folded rocks. The ultramafic rocks covers about 1/3 of
the island and are rich in various heavy metals such as nickel, chromium and
cobalt. New Caledonia is surrounded by the world's second longest barrier reef
(after the Great Barrier Reef). The other islands are formed as ridges on
ancient volcanic island arches.
The official language is French. The indigenous people speak Melanesian
languages, of which the following have the status of regional languages : drehu (approximately
11,000), nengone (approximately 7000) in the Loyalty Islands, and paicî (approximately
6000) and ajië (approximately 4000) in New Caledonia itself. Immigrants speak Javanese, Vietnamese and
Polynesian languages, especially Welsh and Tahitian. See also oceanic
Austronesian-speaking people settled in New Caledonia before 1000 BC, but
possibly Papuans came to the area many thousands of years earlier. Only a few
centuries before the arrival of Europeans in the 1700's. Polynesian people took
possession of the Loyalty Islands. The indigenous people, the Canaks, were
organized into clans that were part of autonomous tribes that differed
linguistically. Yams played a central role both as food and culturally, and the
spirits of the ancestors were cultivated with the chiefs as the connecting link.
When James Cook was the first European to arrive in the islands in 1774,
there were more than 70,000 canons. Pga. the forested mountains he named the
country after Scotland (lat. Caledonia). In 1853, France annexed New
Caledonia and from 1864 used the area as a deportation site for many thousands
of convicts. At the same time, a large-scale mining of nickel was put into
system while the canaks were referred to reserves. Many canaks died during
repeated uprisings, due to illness or during military service in the French army
during World War I; in 1921 there were only 27,100 canaks. During World War II,
New Caledonia was a base for American troops, and in 1946 the islands became a
French overseas territory, where the Canaanites gained French civil rights. But
the unrest and violence continued between canons demanding independence and
immigrants from France and their descendants, as well as immigrants from the
Pacific region, who want continued affiliation with France. Following the unrest
in 1988, it was agreed to hold a referendum under UN surveillance in 1998, which
saw an overwhelming majority in favor of secession from France over a 20-year
period. Unrest in 1988 led to a degree of autonomy in 1998, and a referendum on
independence is to be held after 2014.