Focus on Samoan traditional singing

The Samoana Jazz and Arts Festival Board hosted its fifth annual Ethnomusicology of Samoa forum this week. 

Coinciding with the Teuila Festival, the forum aims to promote an in-depth understanding of the value of Samoan traditional singing to locals and foreigners.

Organizer, Steven Percival said the forum also focuses on exploring traditional Samoan singing styles, and through research, the panel found that traditional songs are divided into parts, which are similar to traditional poetry and speech. 

The highlight of this year’s forum is the performance by about 300 people from the Falealili district.

“The storytelling is a dying technique, art and that is basically what the singing is all about,” Mr. Percival said. 

“It’s a style of singing (Fātuga, Pā’ō ma Tāga a Samoa) that might slowly disappear if we are not bringing somehow attention to it.

“I think mainly because of the globalisation of music. In villages what became very popular is the keyboard that sometimes drowns out the beautiful harmonies of the voices.”

Mr. Percival praised the Samoans unique singing style saying: “We need to promote better understanding and create a higher sense of value of why it is important to keep this kind of tradition and to strengthen identity. 

“Under globalising pressure, music is one of those things where you see the diversity,” he added.

One of the presenters and coordinator of the Ethnomusicology section, Galumalemana Sadeatana Alfred Hunkin highlighted the importance of traditional music saying: “Within the song, all the components contribute to the culture of Samoa including the chiefly system, the relationship between the people and the Matai.

“The language of those songs capture all, the way you should behave, walk but also the essence of gratitude of the culture it has a particular function, particular historical meaning. It’s historical and important bringing people together and part of our identity,” he explained.

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