Fiji Strings Us Along

The term “Melanesian music,” used in the broadest sense, covers a wide range of traditional styles ranging from the multiple genres of tribal songs found in Papua New Guinean singsings to Australia’s Aboriginal didgeridoo drones, from Solomon Islanders’ polyphonic pan pipes to Fijian lali drumming. Melanesians have long used a variety of slit-log gongs, flutes and bamboo pipes in their music but only recently, with the arrival of the Europeans, have they added stringed instruments like guitars and ukeleles into the mix. For example, Fijian music blends Melanesian and Polynesian forms and embraces multi-part harmony. Fijian string bands, like the Shefa boys seen rehearsing in this video, are groups of three or more performers playing guitar/ukelele/mandolin and singing in sweet multi-part harmony.