Music of Melanesia

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Melanesian music refers to the various musical traditions found across the vast region of Melanesia.

Vocal music is very common across Melanesia; sitting dances are also attested.[citation needed] Hand gestures are an important part of many songs, and most traditional music is dance music.

Wax cylinder recording from German New Guinea on August 23, 1904, recorded by German anthropologist Rudolf Pöch.

Folk instruments include various kinds of drums and slit-log gongs, flutes, panpipes,[1] stamping tubes, rattles, among others.[2] Occasionally, European guitars and ukuleles are also used.[3]


  1. ^ See Zemp (1979, 1994).
  2. ^ See François & Stern (2013), p.76-86.
  3. ^ See also Stern (2000).


  • Ammann, Raymond. 2012. Sounds of Secrets: Field Notes on Ritual Music and Musical Instruments on the Islands of Vanuatu. KlangKulturStudien – SoundCultureStudies, 7. Berlin: LIT Verlag.
  • Crowe, Peter. 1994. Vanuatu (Nouvelles Hébrides): Singsing-Danis Kastom–Musiques Coutumières. AIMP XXXIV, CD-796. Genève: VDE-GALLO.
  • François, Alexandre; Stern, Monika (2013), Musiques du Vanuatu: Fêtes et Mystères – Music of Vanuatu: Celebrations and Mysteries (CD album, released with liner notes and ebook), label Inédit, vol. W260147, Paris: Maison des Cultures du Monde.
  • Huffman, Kirk. 1996. Single bamboo flutes. In Joël Bonnemaison; Kirk Huffman; Christian Kaufmann, & Darrell Tryon (eds), Arts of Vanuatu. Bathurst: Crawford House Press. pp. 150–153.
  • Stern, Monika. 2000. La permanence du changement ou les métissages musicaux au Vanuatu. Cahiers de Musiques Traditionnelles n°13 "Métissages". Genève: Georg/ADEM, 179–202.
  • Zemp, Hugo. 1979. Aspects of ’Are’are Musical Theory. Ethnomusicology 23 (1): 5-48.
  • Zemp, Hugo. 1994. ’Are’are Panpipe Ensembles. Paris: Le Chant du Monde.

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