Music and sung poetry in Vanuatu


A team project on Vanuatu music


During the period 2004-2007, I ran a small interdisciplinary team consisting of three young scholars: an ethnomusicologist (Dr Monika Stern, CREDO), and an anthropologist ~ filmmaker (Dr Eric Wittersheim, Univ. of Hawaii), and a linguist (myself).

Our aim was to study the traditions of dance, music and poetry of Vanuatu, more specifically in the northern provinces of “Torba” and “Penama”. The title of our project was:

Rhythms for dancing, poems for singing in Melanesia: Aesthetics, transmission and social impact of musical arts in Vanuatu

We are grateful to the French Ministère de la Recherche for this research grant. This made it possible for us to conduct extensive fieldwork in a dozen different islands of north Vanuatu, and document their musical and poetic traditions. We recorded over 40 hours of video and 45 hours of audio, most of which is already archived in the Vanuatu Cultural Centre in Port Vila.


Amongst the results of our research, you can make your choice:

galet Read our project’s  final report (in French; 8 Mb).

galet Check out the photo gallery from our fieldwork “Music and dance on Motalava”.

galet Discover our documentary film, “The Poet's Salary”.

galet Listen to our brand new CD albumMusic of Vanuatu: Celebrations and Mysteries” (released Nov 2013).

galet Read our detailed liner notes to the CD album, a 128-page ebook on Vanuatu music, available for download in Open access.