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date: 07 December 2019

‘Au ‘erolocked

  • Raymond Ammann


Panpipe ensemble of northern Malaita, Solomon Islands. The instruments have in general ten tubes arranged in raft form with the longest measuring approximately 40 cm. Half of the instruments (called buli) have 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th etc. degrees of the equiheptatonic scale and the remainder (na’o) 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th etc. degrees; they play two- and four-part polyphony. Until the 1970s the To’abaita people used panpipes up to 96 cm long; other groups had already given up such large instruments. The musicians are positioned in two rows with the two instruments forming the complete equiheptatonic scale facing one another.

The similar ‘au keto ensemble of the ‘Are’are, Kwarekwareo, and Kwaoi peoples of northern Malaita has six panpipes of different sizes, two each of five, six, and seven tubes, which perform three-part polyphony doubled at the octave, using an equiheptatonic scale divided between pairs of instruments. The ensemble plays on ceremonial occasions but never accompanies dancing. The musicians form a circle looking towards the centre and the instruments tuned the same way are positioned side by side, the lower-octave instrument on the right....

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