Volume 87 1978 > Volume 87, No. 3 > Reviews, p 279-292
                                                                                             Previous | Next   

- 279

GOURLAY, Ken: A Bibliography of Traditional Music in Papua New Guinea. Port Moresby, Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, 1974. Mimeo, ii, 92, 54pp. n.p.

——: Sound-Producing Instruments in Traditional Society: A Study of Esoteric Instruments and Their Role in Male-Female Relations. New Guinea Research Bulletin no. 60. Port Moresby and Canberra, New Guinea Research Unit, The Australian National University, 1975. ix, 133pp., maps, tables, plates. n.p.

Using Kunst's earlier bibliographies (1959, 1960, 1967) as a starting point, and with only limited library and other resources, Gourlay — by dint of sheer hard work — has produced a bibliography which must surely be a stimulus to much needed ethnomusicological research in Papua New Guinea. There are, to be sure, deficiencies, but these are far outweighed by the merits.

A few entries in Gourlay's draft MS. (e.g. Newton 1914, Ribbe 1903, Thurnwald 1921) have unaccountably been missed in the retyping of the book for publication; there are missing page numbers: particularly, as one would expect, in references the author has been unable to sight; there are frequent omissions of names of publishers and places of publication for books or of full citations for journal articles; and the book has its share of typographical errors. The format, too, contributes its share of problems. Lack of indentation and failure to use a rule to mark successive entries by the same author result in these entries disappearing among the rest; the use of initials only instead of full forenames of authors makes it difficult to use the bibliography with library catalogues; and the practice of using the German abbreviation “P” for Pastor or Pater as if it were an initial (e.g. P.G. Peekel for Father Gerhardt Peekel) is positively misleading. These, however, are minor irritants — easily remedied by using the bibliography in association with the reviewer's An Annotated Bibliography of Oceanic Music and Dance (McLean 1977).

The major (and, indeed, outstanding) merits of the publication are its extremely detailed annotations — on occasion running to two or more pages; an unusually comprehensive tribal and geographical index; and, above all, an extensive classified subject index with numerous individual entries within the broad categories “anthropology”, “ceremonial”, “dance”, “instruments”, “musicological” and “myths and folklore”. The annotations and indexes together make this bibliography an indispensable aid to anyone wishing to undertake work with Papua New Guinea music and may even prove useful for anthropologists and others working outside the specialist field of music.

Coverage of the bibliography is restricted to the political entity Papua New Guinea (including parts of the Solomon Islands) together with the Torres - 280 Strait islands and — on the grounds of their affinity with groups in the Western District of PNG — the Marind-Anim and Tugeri of Irian Jaya.

The rather over-broad title of the other work under review is something of a misnomer. All is clear, however, from the abstract, which states that the book “looks into the use and distribution of sound-producing instruments in Papua New Guinea, specifically bullroarers, sacred-flutes and slit-gongs, and their particular roles in traditional life, especially in male initiation and in male-female relations”. The source materials are some 150 publications from Gourlay's Bibliography of Traditional Music and an impressive quantity of data, which appears nowhere else in the ethnographic literature on PNG, collected by Gourlay's students at Goroka Teachers' College. A spot check using data from the reviewer's own Oceanic music files confirmed most of Gourlay's distributions and turned up only about 40 additional items. On this evidence, Gourlay's data can be accepted as at once both accurate and the most comprehensive yet published for the three instruments he considers. Most noteworthy of the few significant publications missed by Gourlay is Haddon (1920), which offers a fine survey of the earlier literature on sacred flutes and bullroarers, their distribution, and their uses in PNG initiation ceremonies. Other important omissions are Lehner (1935) and Wirz (1937) — also on sacred flutes and bullroarers; Deacon (1925) and Wirz (1954) on sacred flutes; and Baal (1963) on bullroarers.

Gourlay's book first examines the distribution of the instruments and establishes 11 “culture areas” in terms of occurrence and esoteric use. The Sepik (Area A) is a “total” area characterised by the presence of all three instruments. The one exception noted by Gourlay is the apparent lack of the slit-gong among the Banaro — on the grounds of Thurnwald's failure to mention it. Gourlay correctly observes “we cannot conclude that the slit-gong is missing”, and indeed it is confirmed to be present by Haddon (1920:275) — one of the sources of which Gourlay was unaware. The Central Highlands (Area D) is a “sacred flute” area “dominated by the occurrence and esoteric usage of sacred or ‘spirit’ flutes, the slit-gong being absent and the bullroarer. . . playing only a subsidiary role.” (p.15). The Papuan Gulf (Area E) and Huon Gulf (Area C) are designated as “bullroarer country”; New Ireland (Area J), Eastern Papua (Area G) and most of the Western Highlands (Area F) are described as “areas of significant absence”. Manus (Area I) is a “slit-gong area”. Madang (Area B), New Britain (Area H) and Bougainville (Area K) are composite “bullroarer/slit-gong” areas.

The reviewer's data largely confirm Gourlay's findings, except for the “negative” areas J and G and for some qualifications concerning the bullroarer/slit-gong areas. Far from being “negative”, New Ireland (J) is similar to Bougainville (K) with a high incidence of both slit-gongs and bullroarers. However, whereas in these places bullroarers are most often found in association with slit-gongs, the latter occur about as often alone. In this respect both Bougainville and New Ireland are markedly similar to Madang and could be grouped with it as a single area. New Britain (H), although confirmed as a bullroarer/slit-gong area, is distinguished by the infrequent appearance of slit-gongs by themselves.

Eastern Papua (Area G) is not as homogeneous as Gourlay's designation would suggest. The reviewer's data confirm the Central area as one of significant absence, with drums and shell trumpets typically the only instruments reported. In Milne Bay, however, bullroarers occur, and the Northern District has both sacred flutes and bullroarers, most often in association. Gourlay's inappropriate “significant absence” label for the whole of this area probably results from simple lack of information. This is, - 281 however, not the case for New Ireland (J). Gourlay is well aware of the presence there of slit-gongs in every place for which information is available, but labels the area “tentatively negative” (p.17) and dismisses the slit-gongs because of their “lack of esoteric significance”. The status of slit-gongs as esoteric instruments is, however, doubtful for other areas besides New Ireland, even accepting Gourlay's own interpretations.

As long ago as 1931, Kunst — on a basis of simple incidence rather than esoteric use — established the presence of a coastal slit-gong belt extending along the entire northern coast of New Guinea from Humboldt Bay to Huon Gulf, thence through the whole of the Bismarck Archipelago except central New Britain to Bougainville and beyond (see map in Kunst 1967). On this basis, New Ireland is in the middle of the slit-gong belt and to exclude it from the belt or single it out from its neighbours on grounds of lack of ritual use would seem arbitrary. Indeed, it may well be asked if Gourlay is justified at all in assigning to the slit-gong equivalent esoteric status to the bullroarer and to sacred flutes. It is noteworthy that bullroarers and flutes are used predominantly to represent spirit voices during “initiation and other ritual” (pp.41-51) but slit-gongs are mostly used for this purpose only peripherally. Even in the “other uses” category bullroarers and flutes are used primarily ceremonially, as for garden fertility magic and for summoning spirits. Their esoteric role is thus incontestable. Slit-gongs, by contrast — as nearly everywhere in Oceania — are used primarily to accompany dance and for signalling (pp.61-5). This indeed remains true even of some of the “esoteric” uses cited by Gourlay (e.g. the Kwoma (pp.76-7) “speak” to the crocodile Kurumbukuae by means of slit-gongs.) Gourlay gives no instances of the use of slit-gongs in a manner similar to flutes or bullroarers except among the Ngaing and in Sepik tribes such as the Arapesh, Abelam, Tchambuli and Kwoma (p.53, p.76) — Gourlay's “total” area A — where spirit voices are said to be imitated by means of bullroarers, flutes and slit-gongs used in conjunction. Gourlay himself observes (p.76) that, because the sound of the slit-gong is well known to women and uninitiated males as well as to the initiated, “even the most sacred slit-gong is likely to have less of an aura of mystery about it than the secret flutes.” The best he is able to say is that “the slit-gong finds its way into initiation ceremonies as far as it is able” (p.53).

What, then, is the specific nature of the evidence offered by Gourlay in support of the esoteric status of slit-gongs?

At first sight the statistics look reasonably convincing. Accepting Gourlay's own interpretation of what constitutes ritual use, bullroarers are used ritually in more than 85 percent of the cultures in which they occur; for sacred flutes the incidence of ritual use is 63 percent — a figure which must reflect inadequate reporting, as by definition sacred flutes could be expected to have 100 percent incidence of ritual use; slit-gongs have a significantly lower but still respectable 53 percent association with ritual. Bullroarers have their highest incidence of ritual use in New Britain (Area H, 90 percent); sacred flutes in the Highlands (Area D, 81 percent) and the Sepik (Area A, 75 percent); and slit-gongs in the Sepik (Area A, 85 percent).

Gourlay's evidence of ritual association may be tabulated as follows:

  • 1. Secret gongs distinguished from secular.
  • 2. Ritual associated with manufacture of slit-gongs.
  • 3. Slit-gongs tabu to women.
  • 4. Slit-gongs played in pairs like flutes.
  • 5. Slit-gongs used in association with other instruments to represent spirit voices.
  • 6. Initiates shown slit-gongs at same time as other sacred instruments.
- 282
  • 7. Slit-gongs beaten to drown screams of initiates.
  • 8. Slit-gongs sounded with bullroarers and sacred flutes during initiations.
  • 9. Slit-gongs stored in cult house.
Area A (Sepik)
  • Abelam (5)
  • Arapesh (4,5)
  • Iatmul (1,7,9)
  • Kwoma (5,6,8,9)
  • Tchambuli (5,8)
  • Vanimo (6,9)
Area B (Madang)
  • Astrolabe Bay (3)
  • Friedrich Wilhelmsland (3)
  • Ngaing (2,5,6)
  • Tangu (2)
Area C (Morobe)
  • Finschafen (3)
Area H (New Britain)
  • Gazelle (1,2)
Area I (Manus)
  • Manus Is. (9)
Area K (Bougainville)
  • Bougainville (1,2,3)

It will be noticed that nearly all of the cited associations are in the Sepik area (A) where they could reasonably be expected because of the almost universal coincidence there of bullroarers, sacred flutes and slit-gongs and in the Madang area (B) where slit-gongs are likewise commonly found in association with the sacred bullroarer. In areas where the slit-gong is found either alone or in association with non-ritual bullroarers and flutes, it is typically without ritual associations. This lends support to the argument that the slit-gong should not as a matter of course be classified with the sacred flute and the bullroarer as an esoteric instrument. As a rule it appears to be only marginally esoteric, achieving a quasi-esoteric status only by association with instruments that are unequivocally esoteric. Careful search of the literature turns up little additional evidence in favour of Gourlay's hypothesis. Gourlay's Area H example is supported by Rivers (1914:534) who cites Kleintitschen as stating that in the Gazelle Peninsula the slit-gong is especially used in dances connected with the Tubuan and Dukduk secret societies whereas membranophones are used in dances of the more ordinary kind. To find other examples one must leave New Guinea altogether and venture as far as the New Hebrides, where numerous sources attest the use of vertical slit-gongs to represent the voices of ancestors. This, however, is a different office from that of New Guinea spirit voices, and the form of these slit-gongs in any case distinguishes them sharply from any used in New Guinea. A final argument is that to admit New Guinea slit-gongs as esoteric would require similar treatment of other noise-makers such as trumpets, rattles, whistles and water-drums which Gourlay rejects because of their “other uses” and because they are “limited to one area or group and so lack the more general significance attributed to bullroarers, sacred flutes and slit-gongs”. As we have seen, however, precisely the same is true of slit-gongs. They almost invariably have other uses, and their use as esoteric instruments is largely limited to the Sepik where they often appear in association with other noise-makers besides bullroarers or flutes. Gourlay himself mentions such use of shell rattles and conches by the Bukawa, bamboo trumpets by the Baining, and water-drums in the Sepik (p.18). Other examples can readily be found. For the Orokolo, Williams (1939:147,148) reports drums, conches and rattles sounded together to represent the voice of a sea monster, and for the Orokaiva (Williams 1930:89) he finds whistles associated with flutes and bullroarers; Mead (1938:169, 171) provides further Sepik examples of the - 283 esoteric use of water-drums; Bell (1935:317, 321) states that in Tangu leaf trumpets represent “cries of the ghost” in a similar way to bullroarers which are also used; and Todd (1936:428-30) says that at Möwenhafen in New Britain the leaf whistle takes the place of bullroarers to represent a spirit voice at the ceremony of circumcision. From these examples it seems that anything capable of making a strange noise may be pressed into service to represent a spirit voice even if its normal use is secular. I suggest, therefore, that the term “esoteric” might best be reserved for instruments which are exclusively or predominantly so used. If this convention is adopted, bullroarers, spirit flutes (and perhaps the livika or rubbing block of New Ireland) become unequivocal esoteric instruments, and slit-gongs in the main become no more important esoterically than leaf whistles or rattles.

In his introductory note (p.ix), Gourlay asks that the study be regarded as part of a proposed broader one which will examine the role of esoteric instruments as spirit voices on an intercontinental basis. This should reveal information of relevance to the New Guinea distributions which could profitably have been incorporated in the present book. For example, sacred flutes extend beyond the Sepik — which is as far as Gourlay takes them — into the north coast and offshore islands of Irian Jaya (Kunst 1967:130). Their likely route into the highlands is, in fact, fairly well attested. Wirz (1952:12) states positively: “It is quite certain that the ceremonial flutes as also the cult connected with them, reached the highlands from the Sepik area probably along the rivers Juat and Jimmi.” And Deacon (1925) completes the chain by tracing their provenance through Irian Jaya to an ultimate origin with the Kakihan Society of Ceram in the Moluccas. Similarly, the slit-gong belt extends southwards from Bougainville, where Gourlay leaves it, into virtually the whole of Melanesia as far as Western Polynesia and even into Central Polynesia. And, finally, it cannot be chance that Australia with its Aboriginal complex of bullroarers associated with initiation ceremonies is geographically adjacent to the Papua Gulf area, which is the part of PNG with the highest incidence of bullroarers.

Gourlay's final chapter is devoted to the role of the instrument in sex conflict and male-female relations. Male cult initiation rites, the presence of secret sound-producing instruments and male-female hostility are found to co-exist. Additional associations are “the three F's: food, feasting and fertility” (p. 97). Common elements are:

  • 1. Myths have women as discoverers of the instruments.
  • 2. Subsequent male monopoly and secrecy.
  • 3. Deception of women by men — often with the connivance of the women themselves.
  • 4. Esoteric instruments represented as spirit voices and used to frighten women and uninitiated boys.
  • 5. Emphasis on blood-letting in initiation — whether by forcible nose-bleeding, penile incision or sacrification — as symbolic of menstruation.

The object (p.109) is “male self-enhancement”, by means of which men convince themselves of their superiority to women.

Having come so far, it is odd that Gourlay fails to mention other well-known aspects of male cult practice and symbolism which contribute to his theme. These are:

  • 6. Sexual demonstration — sometimes homosexual.
  • 7. Seclusion — often for periods of many months — in a hut representing the interior of a monster which swallows initiates.
  • 8. Regurgitation by the monster at the end of the period of seclusion.
- 284

Taking these together, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the men are enacting not only menstruation but also impregnation, pregnancy and childbirth and so attempting to secure for themselves womanly life-bearing functions which they are physically denied. Gourlay must surely know this, but he is so close to his theme that he sometimes fails to state the obvious. His book must nevertheless be recognised as an important addition to the few available professional studies of New Guinea music, while serving also as a convincing demonstration of the “music in culture” approach to ethnomusicology.

  • BAAL, Jan van, 1963. “The Cult of the Bullroarer in Australia and Southern New Guinea.” Bijdragen tot de taal-, land-en volkenkunde, 119:201-13.
  • BELL, F.L.S., 1935. “Sokapana — A Melanesian Secret Society.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 65:311-41.
  • DEACON, Arthur B., 1925. “The Kakihan Society of Ceram and New Guinea Initiation Cults.” Folklore, 36:332-61.
  • HADDON, Alfred C., 1920. “Migration of Cultures in British New Guinea.” Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 50:237-80.
  • KUNST, Jaap, 1959. Ethnomusicology. The Hague, Nijhoff. 3rd edition.
  • —— 1960. Supplement to the Third Edition of Ethnomusicology. The Hague, Nijhoff.
  • —— 1967. Music in New Guinea. 's Gravenhage, Nijhoff.
  • LEHNER, Stephan, 1935. “The Balum Cult of the Bukaua of Huon Gulf, New Guinea.” Oceania, 5:338-45.
  • McLEAN, Mervyn, 1977. An Annotated Bibliography of Oceanic Music and Dance. Polynesian Society Memoir, 41. Wellington, Polynesian Society.
  • MEAD, Margaret, 1938. “The Mountain Arapesh: I. An Importing Culture.” Anthropological Papers of the American Museum of Natural History, 36:139-349.
  • NEWTON, Henry, 1914. In Far New Guinea. London, Seeley, Service.
  • RIBBE, Carl, 1903. Zwei Jahre unter den Kannibalen der Salomo-Inseln. Dresden-Blasewicz, Beyer.
  • RIVERS, W.H.R., 1914. The History of Melanesian Society, vol. 2. Cambridge University Press.
  • THURNWALD, Richard, 1921. Die Gemeinde der Bánaro. Stuttgart, Enke.
  • TODD, J.A., 1936. “Redress of Wrongs in South-west New Britain.” Oceania, 6:401-40.
  • WILLIAMS, Francis E., 1930. Orokaiva Society. London, Oxford University Press.
  • —— 1939. “A Cycle of Ceremonies on Orocolo Bay.” Mankind, 2:145-55.
  • WIRZ, Paul, 1937. “The Kaiamunu-Ebiha-Gi Cult in the Delta Region and Western Division of Papua.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, 67:407-13.
  • —— 1952. A Description of Musical Instruments from Central New Guinea. Amsterdam, Uitgave Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen.
  • —— 1954. “Uber sakrale Flöten und Pfeifen des Sepik-Gebietes (Neuguinea).” Verhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Basel, 65:97-105.
- 285

HODDER, Ian and Clive ORTON: Spatial Analysis in Archaeology. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1976. ix, 270pp., figs., tables. Price (U.K.) £7.95.

The aim of this book is to show archaeologists that there is a potential for more detailed and systematic study of spatial patterning in archaeological data. The distribution map is a long-established tool but usually it has been taken for granted that patterns were self-evident and could be discerned intuitively. A recent development in archaeology has been the application of statistical techniques, often already used in geography and plant ecology, to introduce more rigour in determining pattern. The next step, if possible, is to discover the cultural process underlying the pattern. This book is the fullest contribution to date, and it fills a real need.

There are various inevitable hazards in studying spatial patterns. The most obvious is that archaeological control of chronology is such that it is difficult to tell sites which are precisely contemporary from those which are not. There are also serious sampling problems. For instance, blanks on maps can indicate that data are absent, or simply undiscovered or destroyed. Site distributions are strongly affected by the intensity of field work and also by destruction as in urban growth. Both processes are spatially variable. The techniques described are cautious and allow objectivity. For instance, Hodder and Orton distinguish, on maps, the secure from the less reliable samples. They sometimes use the sensible device of showing negatives — marking the sites which lack an item.

They show that in archaeological field work it is essential that sampling be considered, and that strategies of field survey be made explicit so that they can be tested for bias. Otherwise many methods of spatial analysis cannot be applied with safety. The point is commonly overlooked. For example, the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, which has organised extensive and expensive field surveys over the last few years without regard for bias, ought to take notice.

Many analytical techniques are described and illustrated by excellent examples. There are chapters on archaeological distribution maps, point pattern analysis, models for settlement patterns, the distribution of single artefact types, the association between different distributions and the relationship between sites and other features. It is fairly clear from all this that archaeological study has more to gain from focusing on whole systems of interacting sites than from just concentrating on single ones. Up until now the emphasis has more often been on studying single, often atypical sites. Seldom have they been viewed from an explicitly spatial perspective. It seems very likely that sites need to be seen in this wider context for the behaviour they represent to be adequately understood.

European museums are well stocked with artefacts whose distributions in time and space are well understood. Their typologies have been refined and perhaps sometimes over-refined by generations of scholars. They are ripe for the picking. Spatial archaeology there has a large body of data available to it. However, in the Pacific this is generally not the case. Most of the basic classification of artefacts and raw materials remains to be done. Yet in this - 286 part of the world there is a rich and possibly unique ethnographic context for the study of material culture which enhances models of interpretation of such distribution patterns as are discovered.

There is a great difference between spatial pattern and process. Ultimately prehistorians are more interested in the latter. Hodder and Orton explain that quite different spatial processes can result in indistinguishable patterns of evidence. There is also the discomforting possibility that apparently regular distributions can be composed of points generated at random. Misinterpretation of this kind is always possible, so caution is needed. However, beyond this, there is a need to have realistic models of culture to make sensible interpretations of such spatial patterns as are genuine.

If there is a weakness in the book it is in the interpretation of spatial patterns in terms of the human behaviour that produced them. Usually the paterns are demonstrated exhaustively by statistics but then left to speak for themselves. The authors agonise a little on problems of interpretation and the ambiguity of evidence. They even go so far as to describe culture as an archaeological concept that is for the moment “too vague to be of value in interpreting archaeological material” (p.200). This statement could only be made in a place where there are no surviving members of the cultures under study left alive. In the book there is little use of ethnographic or modern ethno-archaeological data concerning relationships between the material and non-material aspects of culture, taken from parts of the world where it is available. Generally the models of behaviour seem over-simple and inadequate. In fairness, it should be said that this is not so much a specific weakness of the book as a feature of the tradition of archaeology within which it was written.

At first sight it is hard to see how the majority of techniques described could be applied at present in the parts of Oceania which lack time-sensitive artefacts. For instance, in New Zealand it is normally impossible to tell if any two sites are contemporary. The error in standard dating methods amounts to a fair proportion of the whole local prehistoric sequence. However, it may be that spatial analysis itself can contribute to solving the chronological problem. If it is true, as argued in this volume and elsewhere (e.g., Morrill 1974; Gumerman 1971), that coherent spatial patterns exist among contemporary sites and between sites and their resources, then discovering these relationships may be one method of providing the archaeological record with time depth. Fishing experiments using computers and various models of spacing behaviour might be able to separate successive settlement patterns. In other words, we may be able to use the spatial dimension of archaeological data to predict the chronological, just as, at present, it is possible to use the formal dimension to control chronology by seriation and numerical taxonomy.

There is great promise in the expansion of analytical skills in the area of spatial studies. This area has long been neglected, and Hodder and Orton's book helps to begin to redress the balance.

  • GUMERMAN, G.J. (ed.), 1971. The Distribution of Prehistoric Population Aggregates. Anthropological Reports No. 1, Prescott College Press.
  • MORRILL, R.L., 1974. The Spatial Organisation of Society. California, Duxbury Press.
- 287

MILLER, R.S.: Misi Gete: John Geddie, Pioneer Missionary to the New Hebrides. Launceston, Presbyterian Church of Tasmania, 1975. xx, 368 pp., illus. Price A$12.50.

Like most missionary enterprises, the Presbyterian mission in the New Hebrides has been fairly well publicised. It still lacks, and needs, a good general history, as does the New Hebrides group itself, although the lack is partly made good by a number of propagandist works on the beginnings of the Presbyterian mission. These also contain many valuable historical and ethnographic data. The works of Paton, Inglis and Steele are deservedly well known. Misi Gete, which in large part contains the journal for the years 1848-57 of the Rev. John Geddie, who founded the mission, compares very favourably with them. With the editor providing additional material to round out the volume into a “life”, it was published to commemorate the centenary of Geddie's death in 1872. It is well produced and intelligently edited.

Religiously, the book offers a record of unaffected, solid devotion to spreading the Gospel. This is a factor which needs to be taken seriously into account, yet is too often understated, by those who seek to explain the advance of Christianity in the Pacific. But it is from the fact that it presents the first extended account of the New Hebrides by a long-term resident that this book derives its main value.

Missionary interest in the New Hebrides dates from 1839, with the visit and death there of John Williams. Foreign settlement began with the arrival of Polynesian teachers of the London Missionary Society in 1841. These were followed in 1844 by the sandalwood trader, James Paddon, the first European settler, and in May 1845 by a party of French Catholic missionaries, who stayed little more than a year. In July 1848, John Geddie and his wife, Charlotte, arrived. In his journal Geddie describes the activities of the traders and of the other missionaries, their and his relations with the islanders, and the process by which Christianity penetrated the southern islands of Aneiteum, Tanna, Eromanga and Efate. Prominent themes are the clash between traders and missionaries as, particularly in the missionary view, they competed for influence over the islands, and the islanders' increasing sympathy for Christianity as European contact eroded respect for the tabus. Overall, the picture that emerges is not an unfamiliar one, but the data are extensive and hitherto unworked — except by Dorothy Shineberg, who used the manuscript of Geddie's journal for her work on the sandalwood trade. 1

Geddie's material amply illustrates such matters as the initial difficulties of inducing religious change; the value to the missionaries of visits from European ships; the strong reaction of new converts against their former religious observances; the increase of disease as European contact increased; the reorganising of indigenous political systems so as to provide for social control after the weakening of the tabus; and the reactions of Pacific Islanders to their first meeting with Europeans. Anyone interested in such questions should add Misi Gete to his reading list.

- 288

SHINEBERG, Dorothy, 1967. They Came for Sandalwood: A Study of the Sandalwood Trade in the South-west Pacific, 1830-1865. Melbourne, Melbourne University Press.

TUPOUNIUA, Penisimani: A Polynesian Village: The Process of Change in the Village of Hoi, Tonga. Suva, South Pacific Social Sciences Association, 1977. ix, 70 p.p., figs, photos. Price F$1.20 (Pacific Islands), $1.50 (elsewhere) (paper).

For its purposes, this is a short, good, and extremely useful little book. The data-gathering was conducted from 1967 to 1969, and although the author does not tell us this, as a result of the research he was awarded the MA degree in 1970 from the University of Auckland. (The original title of the thesis was Persistence and Change: A Study of a Village in Tonga.) Tupouniua has taught at both Tonga College and Tonga High School, and the description for the volume also points out that he is currently Senior Education Officer in the Ministry of Education.

In the preface, Tupouniua tells us that all of the statistical data in the volume refer to the 1967-1969 time frame, unless otherwise noted, and this is useful, for it places the volume into some perspective. One disconcerting fact, however, which also appears in the preface is the point that Tupouniua dated this volume in 1974. A three-year gap from 1974 to 1977 for such a modest publication does appear to be somewhat unfortunate.

The book is divided more or less equally into six chapters (Village Setting, Socio-Political Change, Economic Change, The Church, The School, and Conclusions), and Tupouniua gives us a concise picture of a village of 332 people on the island of Tongatapu. In 1967-1969 there were only two individuals in this village who were not of Tongan ancestry: a Fijian who was adopted into a Tongan family at the age of six, and one person who was a descendant of a known Caucasian.

Tupouniua writes that “the entire population [of Hoi], however, classify and regard themselves as Tongan” and “this typical homogeneity of Tonga's villages at least in part accounts for that country's preservation of its independence, pride and culture” (p.10). From my perspective I believe these statements to be totally correct. Tonga's homogeneity has played an important part in keeping its culture intact, and continues to be a strong point. The 1976 census indicates that, out of the enumerated 90,072 residents of Tonga, Tongans represent 98.28 percent of the total, a percentage down only slightly from the 1966 figure of 98.31 percent. (These figures are given here because in Tupouniua's volume there is an unfortunate typographical error which causes a sentance to read “there are now (in 1976) over 10,000 Tongans living in Tonga and a considerable number of Tongans living overseas”(p.1)!)

- 289

Tupouniua provides us with somewhat standard descriptions of traditional and 1967-1969 village life, the advent of and attitudes towards Christianity, and information on the role of the contemporary Church in Tonga. The key point that I believe that he makes, however, is that the Tongan Constitution promulgated by King George Tupou I in 1875 created far-reaching changes which still influence and guide Tonga. The major thing that the Constitution did was to codify what had been the “customary land laws” (p.16); it essentially legalised a feudal land system which exists to this date. Tupouniua points out that Tongans were active in changing Tonga: “Tonga ‘colonised’ itself, and Hoi became one of its outposts” (p.25). This is an extremely important theme that has been coming out recently in the literature. (See, for example, Cummins, Latukefu, and Urbanowicz).

The immense value of this little volume is that it provides us with an important baseline description of village life in Tonga, and also adds to the literature about Tonga by Tongans themselves. The latter point is vital if we are to successfully understand any particular group of people. The 1967-1969 baseline will provide future researchers, should they choose Hoi, with excellent diachronic data.

The time of research is important and should be stressed in any piece of work. In 1969, for example, Tongans established their own CPI (Consumer Price Index) at 100.0 to reflect the purchasing power of people in Tonga. By December of 1975 the Tongan CPI had reached the astronomical figure of 172.4! In March of 1976 the CPI was revised and set again at 100.0. At the end of December 1977 it stood at 127.9.

Tupouniua's volume deals with Tonga of 1967-1969 and this must be carefully kept in mind, especially when he deals with the cash economy and the economic system of the village. Tonga changes over time and researchers must continuously be aware of that. He successfully points this out and he shows that “Hoi, like the remainder of Tonga, can no longer isolate itself” (p.65). This little volume is an excellent case study of a particular Tongan village over a particular period of time. I only hope we see more work like it.

  • CUMMINS, H.G. 1975. “Missionary Politicians.” Journal of Pacific History, 10:105-12.
  • LATUKEFU, Sione. 1974. Church and State in Tonga: The Wesleyan Methodist Missionaries and Political Development, 1822-1875. Canberra, Australian National University Press.
  • URBANOWICZ, Charles F. 1977. “Motives and Methods: Missionaries in Tonga in the early 19th Century.” The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 87:245-63.
- 290

Traditional Music of Tonga. Recording and commentary by Richard M. Moyle. One 12” 33 1/3 r.p.m. disc. Hibiscus HLS-65. Wellington, Reed Pacific Records, 1975. Brochure (4pp.), photos, sleeve notes.

Tonga Today: Popular Music of Tonga. Recording and Commentary by Richard M. Moyle. One 12” 33 1/3 r.p.m. stereo disc. Hibiscus HLS-62. Wellington, Reed Pacific Records, 1975. Sleeve notes.

These complementary recordings are intended to provide a “representative selection of contemporary Tongan music, drawn from traditional and modern styles”. HLS-65 presents traditional song forms and instruments while HLS-62 “is devoted to popular, non-traditional songs”, several of which were recorded at a 1973 national song competition. Included on the latter disc are popular songs sung at kava drinking evenings (side 1, track 3), a church anthem, and a Christmas hymn (side 2, tracks 5 and 6). Also to be heard are some fine examples of the named acculturated styles hiva kakala — love or topical group songs “harmonised in the note-against-note harmonic style of nineteenth-century hymns” (side 1, tracks 1, 2 and 5) — and lakalaka (side 1, track 4), a dance which is said to have originated with the marching movements of children at church festivities in the early days of the missions 2 and whose accompanying songs again exhibit Europeanised hymn-like melody and harmony. In his sleeve notes Moyle states that while European influence is apparent in these items, each “contains some element that is typically Tongan”, for example the positioning of the melody (fasi) in the hiva kakala in the second to lowest voice part, or the use of male falsetto in the top one or two parts which he claims to be “a Polynesian choral style unique to Tonga”. The latter statement is certainly incorrect in view of the documented use in Hawaii after 1872, by members of Berger's Royal Hawaiian Band, of “four-part harmony, with the top two voices employing use of the falsetto”. 3 Moreover, although falsetto singing is widespread in the Solomon Islands and has been reported sporadically in a number of areas adjacent to Western Polynesia, there seems to be no evidence that it was a pre-contact Tongan trait and one may suppose that it is more likely to have become established in Tonga — as may have been the case elsewhere in Polynesia — as a stylistic trait of Hawaiian-derived pan-Polynesian pop. Nevertheless, Moyle is right to point to the characteristically Tongan quality of these items and the undoubted carrying over into them of some of the features of older traditional styles. 4

About half of side 1 of HLS-65, together with the first two tracks of side 2, is devoted to musical instruments. Several instruments which figure prominently in the earliest literature on Tonga, such as stamping tubes (kofe) and the pan-pipe (mimiha) are now obsolete, and some have been so long out of use (e.g. the sounding board) that Moyle was unable to discover the Tongan names. Even the nafa (indigenous slit-gong) is heard only rarely and, as a result, does not appear on the disc. 5 Instead (side 1, track 6), three - 291 examples are given of slit-gong codes played on the now common lali of Fijian origin. An excellent examples of jew's harp ('ūtete) playing can be heard on side 1, track 5; side 1, track 7 demonstrates four common beats played to accompany the ma'ulu'ulu dance on paired skin drums (an introduced instrument which has taken the name (nafa) of the now obsolescent Tongan slit-gong); and on side 2, track 1 two women can be heard beating upon a log the signal used for lifting the ban imposed on noise-making after a death. Of special interest are two examples of nose-flute (fangufangu) playing by the Royal Poet Malukava (side 2, track 2), and two remarkable pieces of conch ensemble playing (ifi kele'a) (side 1, track 8). The conches are tuned by sliding the fingers inside the mouth of the shell; up to nine shells may be played together; and the customary venue is cricket matches where the shells are blown to announce the game and to create and sustain general excitement during the match. 6 The sleeve-note statement that choirs of conches are not to be found anywhere else in the world is unfortunately erroneous, 7 as also is the succeeding statement that the use of rhythmic codes beaten on slit-drums is confined to the western portion of Polynesia. 8

Song or song-dance types represented on HLS-65 are:

  • 1. Fakatangi. These short songs (side 1, track 1) are the sung portions of spoken narrative (fananga) — the equivalent of the Samoan tagi of the fagono. 9
  • 2. 'Upe ‘lullaby’ (side 1, track 2).
  • 3. Tangi laulau ‘laments’ (side 1, track 3).
  • 4. Children's game songs (side 1, track 4).
  • 5. 'Otuhaka (women's seated dance). (side 2, track 3).
  • 6. Tau'a'alo ‘canoe paddling songs’ (side 2, tracks 4-6).

This does not quite represent the full range of Tongan song and song-dance types. Notable omissions include the me'etu'upaki (standing men's dance with paddles) and the faha'iula (standing women's dance). Nevertheless, there is no question that Moyle's is the best selection yet to appear on disc. Particularly to be commended are the inclusion of lesser known song types and the fact that the performances were actuality events recorded as “normally performed” with Tongan audiences present.

As the discography of Polynesian indigenous styles slowly grows, it is instructive to compare the structural characteristics of the music systems so examplified with the same systems as first reported. Thus, the characteristics of Moyle's examples may be compared with those of Thomson 10 whose field date was over 90 years ago in 1886. Thomson believed the old Tongan scale to be limited to five notes with a characteristic omission of fifth and leading note and a tendency to avoid the fourth. The few examples notated by him were metrical, polyphonic and characterised by short strophes. Moyle's examples largely conform to this description except that the scales mostly drop a note to become tetratonic and — except for the 'otuhaka — are nearly - 292 all anhemitonic. Both Moyle's and Thomson's examples have a marked preference for the m3 below the tonic. Yet despite the similarities in both these and other respects, some of the tracks sound hardly less Europeanised — particularly in their harmonies — than the lakalaka and other acknowledged “non-traditional” items of HLS-62. The second of the 'otuhaka melodies on side 2, track 3, for example, needs only the 4th of the scale to become fully diatonic and its melody sounds fairly obviously Westernised. Similarly the tau'a'alo of side 2, tracks 4-6 with their sustained harmonies and highly stylised structure have beyond doubt greatly diverged from their hauling chant proto-form and seem somewhere along the way to have acquired European characteristics. In an earlier review, Adrienne Kaeppler 11 explains this in terms of what she describes as an unnoted problem in Tongan music: namely that even when a song type is traditional — i.e. continues a type known to have existed at the time of European contact — the manner of performance may not be traditional. Thus, Moyle's 'otuhaka track is rendered in the twentieth century style of the composer Sofele Kakala, who incorporates elements from the music of Catholic church services, and in band 6 of the tau'a'alo can be recognised the influence of hiva kakala or ‘sweet songs’ which, as before noted, use hymn-style harmonies.

In defence of Moyle's unqualified use of the term “traditional” for such items, it is worth reiterating his point that “Tonga had its own types of harmonised songs long before the arrival of the Europeans”. The new harmonic elements, identifiably European as they may be, are accordingly best regarded as examples of syncretic change and although “non-traditional” in a purist sense are nevertheless firmly established in a creative synthesis that is as characteristically and unmistakably Tongan as anything Thomson may have heard almost a century ago.

  • COLLOCOTT, E.E.V., 1928. Tales and Poems of Tonga. Honolulu, B.P. Bishop Museum Bulletin, 46.
  • KAEPPLER, Adrienne, 1976. Review of Traditional Music of Tonga (HLS-65) and Tongan Festival Contingent (HLS-30 and 40) Ethnomusicology, 22(3): 612-4.
  • McLEAN, Mervyn, 1975. Review of The Music of Samoa. (Recordings and commentary by Richard M. Moyle.) Journal of the Polynesian Society, 84(3): 403-6.
  • MOYLE, Richard, 1975. “Conch Ensembles: Tonga's Unique Contribution to Polynesian Organology.” Galpin Society Journal, 28: 98-106.
  • —— 1976. “Tongan Musical Instruments [PT. 1].” Galpin Society Journal, 29: 64-83.
  • —— 1977. “Tongan Musical Instruments (Concluded).” Galpin Society Journal, 30: 86-111.
  • PETERS, Robert E., 1973. Leo Ki'eki'e: The Story of Falsetto Singing in Hawaii. Honolulu, Hawaiian Music Foundation.
  • RAVEN-HART, Major R., 1955. “Musical Acculturation in Tonga.” Oceania, 26: 110-7.
  • THOMSON, Basil, 1902. “Appendix: Tongan Music,” in Savage Island. London, Murray, pp.218-28.
1   Shineberg 1967.
2   Collocott 1928:109.
3   Peters 1973: [3].
4   q.v. Raven-Hart 1955.
5   For information about these and other Tongan instruments see Moyle 1976 and 1977.
6   Moyle 1975: 98, 99.
7   Mr J.M. McEwen (pers. comm.) states that he heard a conch orchestra of 15-16 boy players in Lae, Morobe District, PNG, in 1965. Plaster-of-paris was placed in the bell of each shell to tune it, each conch was numbered, and the music to be played was notated in number form.
8   Though uncommon in Eastern Polynesia, they do, in fact, occur there, as in Aitutaki and Mangaia in the Cook Islands, where each village has its own slit-gong call.
9   Exemplified on Moyle's disc The Music of Samoa reviewed in McLean 1975.
10   1902.
11   1976: 613, 614.