Historical Periods in Papua New Guinea Music

PNG Musicians 1

Period I ( up to 1870's ) -True Traditional

PNG Musicians 2

Period II (1870's - 1945 ) Early External Influence

1872 to Late 19th Century: Arrival Of Missions Introduction of Western church hymns to PNG; both Gregorian chant ( monophonic ) and four-part revivalist-type hymns
Introduction of the Polynesian song and dance form known as peroveta anedia or " prophet songs "
Ute , a secular Polynesian song form, may have been introduced as early as the 1870s by Polynesian missionaries
Taibubu, another polynesian song/dance form is introduced
Pre-1900: Hymn Books Printed in several languages Western hymns sung in Papua New Guinean vernaculars
1898: Members of Cambridge Anthropological Expedition visit Areas of PNG First recordings of Papua New Guinean music made.
Late 1800s/Early 1900s: Mission Schooling Established Western school songs taught in English. Tonic sol-fa and cipher forms of notation taught so that local people could learn to " read " hymn tunes.
- Gold Rush begins Introduction of mouth organ by Australian gold miners. Metal jaw's harp used in trading with PNGuineans, replacing the indigenous bamboo version in some areas.
- Introduction of Western Sports e.g. Cricket Cricket matches eventually incorporate songs and dances into their own adaptations of cricket.
Pre-1914 First documented songs in Tok Pisin
1920-21: Explorer Frank Hurley conducts an expedition into various areas of PNG Hurley records traditional music from various regions on wax cyclinders, resulting in the arrangement and publication of Pearls and Savages: A Cycle if Papuan Melodies by E.Aarons, a Sydney pianist and theatre organist
1920s: Gramophone devices become popular in Town and on plantations Initial exposure of Western popular musics to some Papua New Guineans.
1931: Publication of Jaap Kunst's A Study of Papuan MusicKunst, a Dutch ethnomusicologist, provides the first attempt to map the distribution of traditional musical instruments of PNG.
Pre-1932:Establishment of Conchshell Bands by Lutheran Missionary, Zahn Zahn arranges Yabim, English and German hymns in 4-parts to be played by a conchshell band requiring up to 27 different shells.
Early 1930s: Formation of Poreporena Choir. The choir is likely to have been the first non-traditional ensemble comprised of Papua New Guineans to achieve recognition in PNG.
1933: Talking movies begin to be shown in towns. Cowboy film music was later to influence guitar playing styles.
1935-41: Beginning of Broadcasting in PNG. First broadcast of music - Poreporena Choir.
1938: Publication of Die Musik in Bismarck - Archipel by Herbert Hubner. First book published which mainly concerns music in PNG.
- Formation of Royal PNG Constabulary Band. The first government-funded music ensemble.
1942-45: World War II Songs about the war and conditions during these years are composed in PNG languages. Papua New Guineans also learned songs from soldiers, including the Japanese.
- Servicemen from Hawaii and Philippines introduce guitars. Early stages of adoption of a Western instrument that was to have a marked effect on the future direction of PNG music.
c.1944 Central Province music broadcast live on radio.

Period III (Since 1945 ) - Recent External Influence

PNG Musicians 4

Post-1945: Guitars and Ukuleles become more common. Village guitar styles begin to develop.
- Introduction of American Ballroom Dancing in Port Moresby. Western popular dancing becomes popular amongst Papua New Guineans
1947: Dept. of Education appoints a Trad. Music Research Officer, Ray J. Sheridan. Administration acknowledges the importance of indigenous music in education.
1949: Blasius To Una ( b.1925 ) composes his first songs, four hymns in his language, Kuanua. Blasius To Una has developed a unique, guitar-accompanied song style. He was probably the first Papua New Guinean music personality to receive attention from a wide public.
- First commercial recording of PNG music released, recorded by Colin Simpson & John Cunningham. Examples of PNG traditional music become potentially available to a wider audience
By 1950: Australian Broadcasting Commission sending officers to villages to record village music These recordings are broadcast on the ABC "Native People's Session ".
1950s: School choirs sing both hymns and traditional songs. Traditional songs adapted for school choirs.
- Traditional dance displays presented by studentsBeginnings of what has become an annual event in many schools,i.e. the presentation of traditional dances from various provinces.
1952: Formation of Pacific Islands Regiment Pipes and Drums Band. Second government-funded music ensemble founded.
1953: First Port Moresby Show hosted by the Papuan Agricultural, Industrial and Cultural Society. The Port Moresby Show is probably reponsible for establishing the traditional dancing contests.
- Recording of stringbands in Manus Province Earliest documentation of the recording of stirngbands in PNG.
1955: Common curriculum for Primary "T" Schools implemented The music section of the curriculum includes units on Singing, Breathing and Voice Exercises, Ear Training and options of Sight Reading.
1957: First commercial recording of Stringband music released. Commercial 78 rpm disc recorded by Proff A.P. Elkin in Chimbu Province.
- First Goroka Show. Goroka follows Port Moresby Show trend of holding traditional dance contests.
1958: Release of Music of New Guinea - An Introduction, an lp disc recorded by Ray Sheridan. Probably the most significant early commercial recording of traditional PNG music.
Early 1960s: Stringbands in East New Britain and New Ireland Provinces become common. Rabaul in East New Britain becomes an important centre in the development of contemporary PNG music.
1962: Legalised drinking for Papua New Guineans in hotels and taverns. The formation of the first PNG power bands ( often made-up of young men of mixed race decent ) which imitate Rock and Roll guitar styles.
1967: Publication of Songs for The South-West Pacific, a songbook for Primary schools by F.N.Ebbeck. Probably the first song book published for PNG schools which contains transcriptions of traditional songs from various parts of PNG.
- Goroka Teachers College becomes a Secondary schools teacher training institution. Courses were in operation which trained PNG teachers to teach music in High schools. The 1968 Syllabus is almost entirely based around the study of Western Classical music.
- Formation of Gwadu and Freebeats. Two of the earliest power bands of PNG.
1968: Kopy Kats featured on a record release. Another well-known early power band.
1969: Formation of the Stalemates,Iarowari Drifters and Paramana Stramgers These were very popular bands in their time.
Pre-1970: Michael Samo studies at Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Australia. Samo was probably the first Papua New Guinean to undertake formal music training overseas.
1971: First Tolai Warwagira Festival. The Tolai Warwagira Festival, held annually features choir and stringband contests.
1972: Madang Teachers College Bamboo Band releases Madang Musical Memories. The Madang Teachers College Bamboo Band was probably the first of its kind. The style originated in the Solomon Islands and is now popular in many parts of PNG.
1974: PH.D. dissertation " The Music of the Usarufas " by Vida Chenoweth completed at University of Auckland. This was the first Ph.D. based on PNG music resulting from the author's own fieldwork.
- Establishment of the Institute of PNG Studies, which includes a music department. The Institute of PNG Studies Music Department has played an important role in the systematic recording and documentation of traditional and contemporary musics from around PNG.
- Establishment of the Creative Arts Centre ( which later becomes the National Arts School ), Music Department Initially conducted courses in Western music theory and in performance on Western instruments, particularly the piano. Later developed a Dip. of Music with a compulsory component on PNG Music Studies.
1975: Beginning of a PNG recording industry. The first local organisation to release recordings of PNG music was the Institute of PNG Studies in 1975. The commercial recording industry is currently looking healthy. Cassette sales have reached as high as 20,000 copies for a single release.
1977: Formation of Sanguma at National Arts School. Sanguma was a development of a creative music course at NAS where traditional songs from various areas of the country were blended with Afro-American derived styles.
1978: University of PNG, Goroka Teachers College stage an African music/drama Ipi Tombi. The first large scale musical from overseas to be staged by Papua New Guineans.
- Sogeri National High School stage and record Jesus Christ Superstar. More musicals were to follow
Late 1970s: Black Brothers, a Rock/Pop group from West Irian reside in PNG. Their reggae sound influence some PNG bands. Black Brothers were deported in 1979.
1980: South Pacific Festival of Arts hosted by PNG. Probably the most significant musical implication of the 1980 SPFA was the exposure pf Papua New Guineans to the music and dance of their Pacific neighbours.
- First music graduates from The National Arts School.
1981: Sanguma breaks away from NAS to become an independent performing group.
1982: Apa Saun from East Sepik Province presents a full-length public recital on classical guitar. This was the first recital by a Papua New Guinean on an international instrument. Apa Saun, bass guitarist for Sanguma, graduated from NAS in 1982.
-NBC FM radio begins. The NBC FM radio station ( now known as Kalang Service ) becomes part of the commercial arm of NBC. Originally, Kalang Service programming was heavily weighted towards overseas commercial/popular music with a minimum of local music content.
1982-83: Expatriate Lanse Taudevin composes Cantata Buka and Segaropa. The compositions contain elements of traditional music from North Solomons Province and utilise some traditional instruments from that province.
1983: PNG Musicians Association becomes known. The PNGMA aims to improve conditions for PNG musicians, although they have not had much overall effect.
-PNG Top Twenty established The programme was short-lived due to disagreements between recording companies over sales figures.
-NBC publicily states their policy to ban airplay of local commercial recordings made by companies other than NBC, without renumeration. This continued to be NBC policy until 1986.
1984: Pacific Gold Studios ( Rabaul ) install and begin to record on 24-track recording equipment. Managed by Greg Seeto,
1984-85: Chin-H-Meen Studios establish their " Hapkas " style where their artists record " Tok Masta " versions of overseas hits. CHM begin to record versions with lyrics translated into a very Anglicized form of Tok Pisin. The bands attempt to imitate every nuance of the original recording.
-NBC programmes Sounds of the Nation and Chin-H-Meen Supersound are aired weekly. The programmes inform listeners of the latest recordings of NBC and Chin-H-Meen, respectively.
1986: NBC allows playing of all local recordings. Perhaps the most significant event in the history of commercial recordings.

SOURCE: "BIKMAUS " A Journal of Papua New Guinea Affairs, Ideas and the Arts. Vol.VII, No.1, March,1987. " Periods in Papua New Guinea Music History " by Michael Webb and Don Niles.

PNG Musicians 3

Kundu Drum image

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