Access

You are not currently logged in.

Login through your institution for access.

login

Log in through your institution.

Sung Tales from the Papua New Guinea Highlands

Sung Tales from the Papua New Guinea Highlands: Studies in Form, Meaning, and Sociocultural Context OPEN ACCESS

Alan Rumsey
Don Niles
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24hd54
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Sung Tales from the Papua New Guinea Highlands
    Book Description:

    The genres of sung tales that are the subject of this volume are one of the most striking aspects of the cultural scene in the Papua New Guinea Highlands. Composed and performed by specialist bards, they are a highly valued art form. From a comparative viewpoint they are remarkable both for their scale and complexity, and for the range of variation that is found among regional genres and individual styles. Though their existence has previously been noted by researchers working in the Highlands, and some recordings made of them, most of these genres have not been studied in detail until quite recently, mainly because of the challenging range of disciplinary expertise that is required—in anthropology, linguistics, and ethnomusicology. This volume presents a set of interrelated studies by researchers in all of those fields, and by a Papua New Guinea Highlander who has assisted with the research based on his lifelong familiarity with one of the regional genres. The studies presented here (all of them previously unpublished and written especially for this volume) are of groundbreaking significance not only for specialists in Melanesia or the Pacific, but also for readers with a more general interest in comparative poetics, mythology, musicology, or verbal art.

    eISBN: 978-1-921862-21-2
    Subjects: Music
    × Close Overlay

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Don Niles and Alan Rumsey

    The genres of sung tales that are the subject of this volume are one of the most striking aspects of the cultural scene in the Papua New Guinea Highlands. Composed and performed by specialist bards, they are a highly valued art form. From a comparative viewpoint they are remarkable both for their scale and complexity, and for the range of variation that is found among regional genres and individual styles. Though their existence has previously been noted by researchers working in the Highlands, and some recordings made of them, most of these genres have not been studied in detail until...

  2. 2. Yuna Pikono (pp. 39-48)
    Kenny Yuwi Kendoli

    Kenny Yuwi Kendoli is a Yuna¹ man, born at Hayuwi in the Aluni area, Southern Highlands Province. His primary place of residence at the time this chapter was written was Hirane in the Kopiago area. Kenny has more than a decade of experience working with researchers in the disciplines of anthropology, ethnomusicology, and linguistics. He has worked closely on the recording, transcription, and translation of several pikono performances and, along with the late Richard Alo, has contributed extensively to ongoing examination and discussion of pikono as a genre. He has also attended numerous pikono performances as an audience member.

    In...

  3. Kirsty Gillespie and Lila San Roque

    The relationship between music and language has been a topic of scholarship for many years, across the academic world. In the Duna “sung story” genre of pikono, systems of music and language are interdependent and it is this relationship that our chapter explores.

    In keeping with the topic of this volume, our discussion only relates to pikono that is sung. Sung pikono is considered by the Duna to be the height of the craft, and this is the mode of delivery for male performances. Women also create pikono, however the performance context and their delivery of pikono is much different....

  4. Michael Sollis

    This chapter builds upon the previous two by examining how parallelism occurs between musical elements and linguistic elements in a performance of Duna pikono. In chapter 2, Kenny Kendoli describes the significance of pikono in Duna culture. Kirsty Gillespie and Lila San Roque provide a detailed analysis of the musical and linguistic form of pikono in chapter 3. In this chapter I focus on parallelism in a particular performance of pikono by Kiale Yokona in 2005 which was recorded by Gillespie and linguistically transcribed by Lila San Roque.

    Firstly, I will introduce Roman Jakobson’s concept of parallelism as a way...

  5. Gabe C. J. Lomas

    The Húli people live in the central mountains of the Papua New Guinea mainland, and number some 250,000 (Haley 2007:155). Across the language community there are minor dialectal variations associated with areas of migration (Lomas 1988:27–30), but these do not significantly affect communication. However, as regards the neighbouring Duna, Dugaba, and Obena peoples, language does affect communication—despite a Húli claim that they share a common ancestor called Héla—since each group speaks a language largely unknown to the others.

    In Héla Húli, the tradition of chanting tales around the fire at night is found everywhere and has been...

  6. Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan

    The Huli inhabit the Tagali River basin and surrounding areas, a region of about 6,180 square kilometres that lies mainly between the altitudes of 1,550 and 3,500 metres. There are no distinct seasons in this part of the world. Daily morning sunshine and afternoon rains encourage the cultivation of the staple sweet potato. The Huli also rear pigs as their most important exchange item, which is used for bridewealth and debt settlement.

    An egalitarian society with a cognatic descent system and multilocal residence, the Huli do not live in villages, but in small hamlets dispersed amongst their sweet potato gardens...

  7. Philip Gibbs

    Found throughout the Enga Province, Enga tindi pii are one of the many traditions of chanted tales in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea as discussed in the other chapters of this book. They are lengthy tales, performed at night by a sole performer (man or woman), primarily for entertainment, but at the same time communicating forms of esoteric knowledge. Nowadays, with social change and new forms of entertainment, tindi pii are uncommon, but they are still performed occasionally, especially in the western parts of the province.

    This paper is based on an analysis of seven performances, recorded in different...

  8. Terrance Borchard and Philip Gibbs

    The Ipili people of Enga Province, Papua New Guinea, have traditional tales, called tindi, which may be told either in ordinary spoken style or as long poetic chanted tales. This chapter focuses on the role that is played by parallelism, which manifests itself in the ordered interplay of repetition and variation in the linguistic and poetic form of the sung versions. Before discussing tindi we will first provide some background details concerning the region.¹

    Ipili is the name of the ethnic group living in the Porgera and Paiela valleys, and is also the name of the language that they speak....

  9. Frances Ingemann

    The Ipili people of the Porgera and Paiyala valleys of Papua New Guinea have traditional tales, called tindi, which may be told either in ordinary spoken style or as long poetic chanted tales. Information about the Ipili people and tindi can be found in the chapter 8 of this volume.

    Spoken versions of tindi are shorter and less elaborate than the chanted versions. Chanted tindi are not memorized poems, but are recreated from traditional elements in each performance. While anyone may tell a spoken version, only skilled tellers are capable of performing chanted versions. The fact that great skill is...

  10. Hans Reithofer

    In this chapter I provide a general introduction to the art of chanting tales as practised and valued among Karinj speakers (a West Angal, or Wola, dialect) in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Apart from discussing aspects of form and performance as well as content, the social significance of this verbal art and of the stories themselves will be considered in some detail. Why folk tales about skywalkers and cannibals should be important at all—beyond the aesthetic pleasure and entertainment afforded by their skilful performance—is a question that is answered by looking at the influence these...

  11. Alan Rumsey

    This chapter is about sung stories and associated modes of performance in the Ku Waru region of the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea, which are known as tom yaya kange. This region lies within the broader one referred to by Don Niles in chapter 12 of this volume as the “Hagen Area,” which also includes Melpa as discussed both by Niles and by Strathern and Stewart in chapter 13. The chapter will open with a brief introduction to the Ku Waru region and its genres of verbal art. I will then turn to tom yaya kange in particular and...

  12. Don Niles

    The purpose of this chapter is to convey some sense of the melodic and metric nature of Hagen sung tales through the examination of two related, but distinct, styles. Hagen (Melpa and Ku Waru) performances appear to stand as a subgroup separate from other regions particularly because of the metric binary melodies that provide a framework for the telling of the story (e.g., cf. Duna pikono as described by Gillespie and San Roque in chapter 3, this volume).¹ I begin with what can be considered the most canonical of all Hagen performances, that by Paul Pepa from 1980. Aside from...

  13. Andrew Strathern and Pamela J. Stewart

    Poetry and prose are often conventionally contrasted. Poetry is seen as an elevated form of language, conveying feelings and insights in rhythmic forms. Prose is often seen as the vehicle for conveying “rational thought,” and also as mundane, ordinary use of language. Of course, these stereotypes are quite inaccurate. There are many different genres and uses of both prose and poetry. Prose can express complex emotions and use metaphors and similes; poetry can read like a quiet conversation, imparting local information. The rigid division between prose and poetry may perhaps be peculiar to literate cultures. In oral cultures clear distinctions...