GUITAR SONGS

These songs were collected during about 40 months of ethnographic research among the Sikaiana people between 1980 and 1993. During my stays in the 1980s, it seemed increasingly difficult for the Sikaiana people to sing and compose in the traditional styles. However, several popular musical styles were introduced in the 50 years before my arrival At church services, people sang English hymns from an English (Anglican) hymnal, and children sing Sunday School songs. (There were church hymns written in the vernacular, but, perhaps due to inaccurate translations, they were rarely sung.) Sikaiana men learned a variety of American and English songs which they sang when drinking, including “You Are My Sunshine,” “Pack up your Troubles,” “The United States Marines Marching Song,” and “There is a Church in the Valley.”

The guitar (kitaa) was introduced onto Sikaiana in the late 1960s, and during my stay was a very popular expressive form for unmarried young men (tamataane) and young women (tamaahine). This music was considered to be appropriate for unmarried people, usually interest decreased when a person married. Guitar songs were composed in the Sikaiana language and, as in traditional composition, often used metaphors (hulihulisala) to intensify meanings or disguise criticisms and secrets. These songs were played at dances between young men and women, which occurred as frequently as several times a month. This intersexual dancing, termed hula, was introduced onto Sikaiana in the 1970s. In traditional society, men and women did not dance in this fashion. Sikaiana parents often complained that guitar music and dancing was respons¬ible for immoral sexual behavior and the breakdown of some Sikaiana traditions. Following my arrival in 1980, there was a controversy on Sikaiana between dancing forms. After a feast, there was a short period of traditional dancing to the drum. But older people claimed that in a short time younger man forced them out by playing guitar music to start intersexual dancing.

Although guitar music is not traditional and often used western tunes, it is indigenous in many respects. The choice of the vernacular for composition is not insign¬ificant. Many of the young men who composed and sang the songs claimed that they are more fluent in Pidgin English than the vernacular. In describing specific events in the vernacular, guitar songs represented a music style that was oriented to the Sikaiana community. Moreover, Western rock and folk music was available on tapes, but they were not played at organized dances.

Young men preferred to perform guitar music when they have been drinking, although sometimes they sang sober. Young women, whose drinking was curtailed by local regulations and convention, enjoyed singing to the guitar when the sober. Several times during my stay, groups of young people recorded guitar songs on cassettes and sent them to Sikaiana relatives and friends in other parts of the Solomon Islands.

Finally, tape recorders and radios were ubiquitous on Sikaiana. People listened to the Solomon Islands Broadcasting System (SIBC) which has programing that includes relatively contemporary Western rock and folk music. People also play this music on tape cassettes.

At present (2021) one can find this guitar music on YouTube. Two of Island Boy’s songs are known to me from the 1980s, the other I do not know. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bJhTE-sLk8 The following material includes guitar songs recorded between 1980 and 1983. These songs were all recorded from young women, although they include popular songs composed by the young men. Young men did play the guitar but young women were much more willing to perform as part of recreation as opposed to at a dance or when drinking.

There will be a separate entry for traditional songs.

There is a group of albums and then some individual songs.

Donner, William W. 1998 “Sikaiana Songs.” Entry in Adrienne L. Kaeppler and Jacob W. Love, editors, The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 9: Australia and the Pacific. Pages 335, 844-848, and CD recording. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.

_________1992 “The Same Old Song but with a Different Meaning”: Expressive Culture in Sikaiana Ethnic and Community Identity. Pacific Studies 15(4): 67-82. Special issue, The Arts and Politics, Karen Nero, Guest Editor.

_________1987 "Don't Shoot the Guitar Player": Tradition, Assimilation and Change in Sikaiana Song Composition. Journal of the Polynesian Society 96: 201-221.

Follow

Articles

File

01 Album Guitar Music, Sikaiana Women and William Donner

File

02 Album Sikaiana guitar music, Sikaiana Women

File

03 Album 3 Sikaiana Guitar Songs, Sikaiana Women

File

04 Album 4 Sikaiana Guitar Songs, Sikaiana Women

File

05 Sikaiana song Too Anau, Sikaiana Women

File

06 Guitar Song Ttoka Hakatonu, Women Sikaiana

File

07 Guitar Song Hetuu o te Lani, Sikaiana Women

File

08 Guitar Song Akonaki Ake, Sikaiana Women

File

Sikaiana guitar songs Album 5, Young Men and Young Women

File

Sunday School Songs, Children Sikaiana