Music in traditional exchanges in North Vanuatu

Abstract : Music is a social phenomenon, which allows the possibility of indefinite re-creations. In many cultures, musical borrowings are the very essence of creation, as can be seen in the tradition of jazz or, more recently, techno music. Depending on the cultures, the places and the times, these musical exchanges have been locally managed in various ways. Today, the rights to copy a particular music have become a sensitive topic of current international interest because of the development of the music industry, with the technical possibilities of large-scale reproduction and the commercial character of recordings and performances. In Vanuatu custom, a principle very close to the concept of intellectual property rights has existed for centuries, whether it be for songs, dances, or other intangible knowledge such as stories, designs woven into a basket or a mat, sand drawings, a magic formula, a medicinal plant, etc. Traditionally, it is not everyone who has the right to hand over certain parts of this knowledge as they see fit. Complex rules must be observed, particularly through the system of traditional exchanges. While for most sets of music anyone who knows a song can sing it, a certain number of sets exist that are governed by very precise rules of transmission. Through examples of ceremonies and specific cases observed in the north of Vanuatu, I would like to present in this article various ways in which music can be circulated, exchanged with other valuable objects of traditional currency such as red mats, pigs or even coins of modern currency (the vatu).
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Contributor : Monika Stern <>
Submitted on : Monday, July 22, 2013 - 2:26:55 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 1:30:28 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-00847007, version 1



Monika Stern. Music in traditional exchanges in North Vanuatu. Innovation, creativity, access to knowledge and development in Pacific Islands Countries, Sep 2012, Canberra, Australia. ⟨hal-00847007⟩



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