The haunting sounds of Hui Ohana

I’ve always been fascinated by the Ocean and how it so succinctly reflects the rhythm of Life and the passage of Time.

Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to be part of a media trip by sea to Ono in the Lau Group.

It’s a trip I will never forget.

I spent the nights of the three-day boat ride (one way) lying on the deck just staring awe-struck at the star-studded heavens. Now and then, I’d feel my way around the railings to watch the waves plough back into the sea leaving behind trails of bleached white foams that seemed to manage a smile just before melting away into an almost melancholic denouement. I remember feeling such a strong connection to the sea, as if I had been there before. Everything about the Ocean was familiar and then as I gazed into the unfathomable depth of midnight blue, I had a very strong sense of being “home”.

Throughout the trip, visiting a few other islands nearby, that feeling persisted. There was just something about the islands – the gentle swaying of palm trees, the lazy feel of the day, the dim flickering of lights from kerosene lamps as evening descended, softly subduing the voices of conversations and laughter and carrying them away as if it was dutybound to store them in a hidden vault of sounds. I remember wondering if I would be able to see or experience those moments again in 20 years’ time and if that were not to be the case, I remember feeling so fortunate to be a witness to an experience so bizarrely endangered it both scares and excites.

Then on the day before we left Ono (after visiting all its inhabited islands), we were treated to a meke performance by the villagers.

Ono, you see, is a group of islands that lie closer to Tonga than to Viti-Levu so it was well-known that the natives are more Tongan in nature and appearance than Fijian (more Polynesian than Melanesians). Like other aspects of their local culture, their meke and songs were heavily steeped in Polynesian accentuation. While watching them perform, my mind drifted back to the rhythm of the Ocean, the rhythm of swaying coconut trees, the rhythm of laughter and conversations, the rhythm of Life. As my attention returned to them, I was deeply touched by the rhythm of their spirit as a people.

Over the years, I’ve explored as many sounds as I can in Pacific music but there is still something so moving about the music of Polynesia. Somehow in my mind, they would always take me back to that trip and re-ignite in me a deep longing for “home”.

This is my favourite song from the Hawaiian group Hui Ohana. A lullaby that never fails to transport me back to several years ago, on a boat with nothing else but the ocean all around me and the skies all above me.


Sometime ago while surfing the Internet for more information on the Malaita lullaby Rorogwela, I stumbled upon a video someone made on Solomon Islands culture.

The video was nice but I was instantly drawn to its soundtrack.

What struck me was the very rich, unique and pleasantly natural voice of the singer. Read the rest of this entry »

Sigidrigi still rules!

Sigidrigi, by the standards of most indigenous Fijians, is still king in the local music culture. That raw vocal harmony tailored so very closely to folk sounds, be it a vucu (chants), meke (traditional dances) or vakalutuivoce (a two-voiced variation of a chant) has a way of tugging at the heart of the Fijian as he or she gets older.

Here is a definition of ‘sigidrigi’ from a paper titled: ” FIJIAN SIGIDRIGI AND THE SONIC REPRESENTATION AND CONSTRUCTION OF PLACE” by Jennifer Cattermole, published in Transforming Cultures eJournal in 2009:

This paper explores how the inhabitants of Taveuni, Fiji’s third largest island, use the music genre known as sigidrigi (from the English ‘sing drink’) to articulate and redefine their relationships to particular places. Sigidrigi songs are often performed by groups of men to entertain people during informal yaqona (or kava as it is known throughout Polynesia) drinking sessions. They feature three or four-part vocal harmony, and are accompanied by guitar and/or ukulele.

Fijian popular music is all about digital sounds which fit in well with the younger generation but you will still find devoted followers of sigidrigi around the grog sessions. Read the rest of this entry »

Vanuatu’s Rosalina

Fiji is going crazy with “Rosalina”.  In the buses, on the streets, mobile phones, USB speakers…………………….this unique fusion of grassroots and techno from Vanuatu’s Naahu Tribes has kinda taken over from Solomon Islands’ DMP originals and remixes.

I have a 14 year old at home who’s absolutely nuts over this song.

And of course there are those who have gone past that stage. 🙂

DMP craze

Solomon Islanders, I find, are so talented in music.  I love their traditional sounds and I love their contemporary music.

The group in this video is DMP, initials for DoorMan Project.  They are so hot in Fiji – you will hear them in most public buses in Suva.

Their songs come either in their original forms or as remixes.  I dislike the remix versions but I guess they have a place.

I just hope the boys from DMP are getting some money from the use of their songs by the growing local community of music pirates posing as DJs.

DMP I believe is among the best in the Solomon Islands and the Pacific’s island-reggae music genre.

Tonga has talent!

These may be cover versions but I was thrilled to watch this guy sing.

I think he’s so talented.

Thanks by the way to the ever-thoughtful Tomasi Raikivi who took these videos using his iPhone at the Fiji Showcase underway this week in Suva.

Tom tells me this singer came all the way from Tonga and is the new find of veteran local musician Ken Jensen [a bit on Ken Jensen, Click here]

Read the rest of this entry »

Did you know?

…that this lullaby from Malaita in the Solomon Islands was actually “stolen” by  a French group called Deep Forest, who remixed it and turned it into an award winning production back in the 1990s? [see more here…]

Below is what won them grammies and milions of dollars in royalties. Read the rest of this entry »