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Songs of the Empty Place

Songs of the Empty Place: The Memorial Poetry of the Foi of the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea OPEN ACCESS

James F. Weiner
Don Niles
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: ANU Press
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    Songs of the Empty Place
    Book Description:

    For 31 months between 1979 and 1995, James F. Weiner conducted anthropological research amongst the Foi people in Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. This book contains the transcriptions, translations, and descriptions of the songs he recorded. The texts of women’s sago songs (obedobora), men’s ceremonial songs (sorohabora), and women’s sorohabora are included. Men turn the prosaic content of womenís sago songs into their own sorohabora songs, which are performed the night following large-scale inter-community pig kills, called dawa. While women sing sago songs by themselves, men sing their ceremonial songs in groups of paired men. Women also have their own ceremonial versions of such songs. The songs are memorial in intent; they are designed to commemorate the lives of men who are no longer living. Most commonly they do so by naming the places the deceased inhabited during his lifetime. These song texts and translations are introduced by Weiner. Ethnomusicologist Don Niles then brings together information about each type of song and considers these Foi genres in relation to those of neighbouring groups, highlighting aspects of regional performance styles. Consideration is also given to the poetic devices used in Papua New Guinea songs. Eighteen recordings illustrating the Foi genres discussed in this book are available for download. It remains uncertain how such songs may be affected by the major oil extraction project that has been undertaken in the region for more than two decades. This book will interest students of anthropology, ethnomusicology, linguistics, verbal art, aesthetics, and cultural heritage.

    eISBN: 978-1-925022-23-0
    Subjects: Anthropology, Music, Linguistics, History, Sociology
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  1. Don Niles

    I am very pleased and honoured to introduce James Weiner’s book of Foi song texts. This gives me an opportunity to discuss why I think this is such a valuable publication and to highlight its importance in relation to various topics of concern to Papua New Guinea ethnomusicology.

    Weiner’s bookThe Empty Place: Poetry, Space, and Being among the Foi of Papua New Guinea(1991) discusses many of the song texts in this present volume and shows how they highlight or relate to certain aspects of Foi society. A number of reviews of the book appeared (e.g. Reesink 1992; Turner...