Music has been an integral part of our lives as Pacific peoples. Before colonization arrived on our shores, music was a major form of communication. It served to maintain our history, genealogy, and cultural knowledge through different oral forms. Traditionally there was no accompaniment, only lyrics (which resembled chanting, more than the melodic form we understand in contemporary music).
I can see that the evolution of Pacific music has been engulfed in modernisation, but maintains some structures of the old forms. I dig the modern day Nifoloa and Te Vaka remixes of the classics because not only does it sound good, with its upbeat tempo and pop-music catchiness, but it also teaches us a thing or two about our heritage. These contemporary renditions of traditional songs do hold old meanings.We’re in the age of hip-hop influenced Zipso (or another more updated reference), acoustic guitar covers with solo people going hard with their trills, islandery ukulele (which were brought to Hawaii by Portuguese immigrants), summer jams, and basically an undefinable “Pacific music” genre (hey SOL3 MIO). However there is an existing fear that in these changes (for whatever reason it needed to be adapted) there could be a loss of conviction and truths that were once conveyed in traditional forms.
If you’re an arts student (or just a human paying attention) you’ll be familiar with the idea that culture is never static, change is inevitability, there is no single “authentic” culture to go back to etc. It’s futile to go back to our very oral culture passing wisdom, genealogy, and histories through songs and chants. But as I bop my head to contemporary Pacific music—with its bass, rhythm, and melodic vocal line—I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on something, like something has fallen through the cracks, like my ancestors voices are getting more and more faint.
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