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date: 13 November 2019


  • Raymond Ammann


Term in Fwài, Nemi, Jawe, and Pije for bark clappers of New Caledonia. These are the most typical idiophones on the Grande Terre (main island), evidently popular in past times, nowadays conspicuously in use in the centre and the north; the instrument has even been adopted by kaneka bands (a local popular music inspired by reggae). Nothing quite comparable to the bwan-jep is found outside the Grande Terre, and it symbolizes the music of the Melanesian population (Kanak) of New Caledonia.

While its names vary in different languages and regions (dööbwe in Xârâcùù; pédawa in Ajië; jepa in Paicî; bwajep or bwajé in Cèmuhî; duba in Nyâlayu), the instrument is consistent in form, size, and construction. One instrument consists of two clappers, often of different sizes but both shaped like elongated isosceles triangles and held at the pointed end. The larger of a pair can have a perpendicular length of up to 50 cm and at the extremity a breadth of up to 30 cm, whereas the smaller might measure 40 by 25 cm....

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