EOL Book Review  

cover, smallThe Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 9
Australia and the Pacific Islands

Edited by Adrienne L. Kaeppler and J.W. Love. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1998. xxvii + 1088 pp., photographs, maps, index, glossary, bibliography, filmography, discography, and 1 audio CD.

Editors at Garland publishing company met in 1988 to plan a ground-breaking series of encyclopedias of world music. Ten volumes were proposed; four are now available. Australia and the Pacific Islands is the third (although it is titled Volume 9) published in the series The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. The first two volumes, Southeast Asia and Africa, also recently published, have garnered early praise. The fourth, South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, has just come out. All clearly will provide a major reference for future musicologists.

Garland set up guidelines to organize the massive amount of information available for the encyclopedias. Each volume was to be organized in three sections: an introduction to the field, its culture and its music; a presentation of major issues and processes that link the musics of the field; and detailed accounts of individual music cultures. And each was to be organized thematically and not alphabetically. Within this structure editors were free to determine their own narrative.

The editors of the Australia and the Pacific Islands volume, Adrienne L. Kaeppler and J.W. Love, have taken a creative approach to the material and the result is extremely impressive. First of all, they have compiled an encyclopedia of performing arts that presents the culture of performance in Oceania in its broadest terms. In Parts 1 and 2 they have identified themes relevant to the entire region. In Part 1, for example, the various authors discuss topics within three themes, "Encounters with 'the Other,'" "Encounters among 'Ourselves,'" and "Musical Migrations." These themes focus on outside influences that have altered the indigenous soundscape of the Pacific. In Part 3 the authors discuss primarily the indigenous musics of each geographic region and, in fact, the flyer for the encyclopedia states that the volume describes the musics of the indigenous peoples of Oceania. Anglo-American traditions, aside from missionary influences, are hardly touched, while immigrant communities, including Chinese, Portuguese, Greek, etc. are dealt with in some depth.

The chapter "Encounters with the Other" provides a brief discussion of the history and influence of exploration, missionaries, war, literature and film on the region’s music. "Encounters with Ourselves" deals primarily with the influences recent festivals have had on Pacific culture. The chapter "Musical Migrations" discusses both contemporary contact between islands and the influence of outside immigration. Most of these latter peoples have arrived in the Pacific by choice, although many came as indentured labor. 

Part 2 is titled "Concepts in Oceanic Music" and tackles thirteen themes that are critical to understanding the musics of Oceania. These chapters explore both traditional topics such as music and politics, musical instruments, etc. as well as newer themes such a music and gender, and music and ingested substances. Like the introductory chapters these themes are relevant across Oceania and provide a contemporary look at the region.

In Part 3, which comprises more than half of the volume, the editors divide the region geographically into its traditional categories—Australia, New Guinea, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. Within each chapter separate sections cover either a country or region, e.g., Solomon Islands, West Polynesia. Part 4 of the book provides the reader with resources and research tools. An explosion of information has become available in the last three decades and this section presents the most up-to-date compilation of the recordings, films, books and archival resources available. The resources include a general "books for further reading" section which compliments bibliographies that accompany each chapter. The section ends with a glossary and liner notes for the accompanying CD.


Audio 1. "Eyo yara waya," Chimbu courtship song (kaungo) sung mostly in high falsetto by three men of Bongugl Village, Chimbu Province, Papua New Guinea. Recorded by Frédéric Duvelle, 1974, Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies. Track no. 10.

RealAudio iconAudio 1: "Eyo yara waya"
Download RealAudio Player

AU audio iconAudio 1: "Eyo yara waya" (186 KB, .au)

This one-hour CD has fifty-four short tracks of music recorded primarily in the 1970s and 1980s. The tracks are organized in order as they appear in the text. The selections are fairly representative of the region although half are from Melanesia (Audio 1) while Hawai’i, Australia, and New Zealand are represented by only one track each.
Audio 2. Samoan responsorial dance-song (ma’ulu’ulu) performed by 8 men and10 women, mostly of Samoa, accompanied by clapping and a small struck log idiophone (pate). Recorded by Benjamin Ives Gilman in the Samoan Exhibit on the Midway Plaisance at the World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 23 September 1893—the earliest date from which a recorded performance of Oceanic music survives. American Folklife Center, AFS 14,741:A16 (cylinder 4323). Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. Track no. 9.

RealAudio iconAudio 2: Samoan responsorial dance-song

AU audio iconAudio 2: Samoan responsorial dance-song (176 KB, .au)


The CD has several historic recordings including the first surviving record of Oceanic music (Audio 2). In future editions a listing of relevant e-mail addresses and web sites would be a useful addition to this section.
More than 160 authors from thirty countries wrote entries to this Garland Encyclopedia. Certainly it is the first time that material from major scholars of Oceania has been gathered together in one volume. The encyclopedia is a survey of performing arts and as such includes extensive sections written by dance ethnologists and anthropologists as well as ethnomusicologists. It is an extraordinary effort that will be applauded by contemporary and future scholars, and others interested in the region. Scholars should not have a problem with the volume; the organization is creative, the indexing seems thorough (although I would suggest an additional listing of maps on the contents page), and the material is certainly of impressive depth. People with general interest in the region also will find much to engage them, however may occasionally have difficulty with some of the references, particularly geographic. For example Ra’iatea (p. 8), Iatmul (p. 257) and Baluan (p. 258), LMS (p. 204) are not explained and would likely be unfamiliar to the newcomer or, for that matter, even the well-informed. It is difficult to constantly redefine terms from section to section but in an encyclopedia we have to assume that a reader may be reading only one section.

These are small points. But one major criticism that must be leveled at the volume is the quality of photographs. The diversity of images is impressive and critical to the success of a volume such as this, but the reproduction quality is abysmal. Certainly the original photos are of a higher quality and I can only assume that care was not taken in the printing. I would recommend upgrading the process if a reprint is to be made. That said, I can only applaud the editors for work that will be invaluable to the field for many decades to come.

Richard S. Kennedy

Richard Kennedy is the Deputy Director of the Center for Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies at the Smithsonian Institution. At the Center he has curated Smithsonian Folklife Festival programs on Hawai’i, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and Russian Music, and has coordinated larger institutional efforts such the Smithsonian’s 150th Birthday Party on the Mall. Before coming to the Smithsonian, Kennedy was Associate Director of the National Council for the Traditional Arts. At the Council he produced an award winning film, Dance of Tears on Cambodian refugees and coordinated tours of American musicans. For twelve years during his career in Washington D.C. he was chair of South Asian Area Studies at the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service Institute.

  Thanks to Aaron A. Fox for his assistance with this page.