Ethnomusicology: 'Sounds of Samoa'

Photo Credit: 
J. Kneubuhl
(Photo 1) Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin of Samoa with Marisa Ta'amu, Chande Lutu Drabble and Tapaau Dr. Daniel Mageo Aga. (Photo 2) Matatumua Opeloge Ah Sam from New Zealand (center) with Loretta Tonu-Pua'auli and Poe Mageo.

(PAGO PAGO--THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2016)--In its February 2016 newsletter, the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) Study Group on Music and Dance of Oceania (SGMDO) provides a detailed account of the Ethnomusicology Forum hosted October 2015 by the Fine Arts Department at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC).

The October forum highlighted the diversity of musical expression within both Samoa and American Samoa.

“The SGMDO is a prestigious Pacific-wide organization of scholars dedicated to the responsible study of the music and dance of our region,” explained ASCC Fine Arts Chairman Mr. Kuki Tuiasosopo, “and for them to recognize our forum marks a significant accomplishment in the College’s efforts to promote awareness of the music and art of Samoa and the rest of the Pacific.”

The forum, titled “Sounds of Samoa,” was attended by ASCC students and the public. It was held in conjunction with the Samoana Jazz and Arts Festival. The Forum featured local music scholars and teachers, as well as distinguished guests from off-island including renowned authority on Samoan music Dr. Richard Moyle and Composer/Conductor Matatumua Opeloge Ah Sam. They are both from New Zealand.

In addition to Dr. Moyle and Matatumua, presenters included Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin from Samoa; Chande Lutu Drabble, Tapaau Dr. Daniel Aga, and Fine Arts faculty Tuiasosopo, Poe Mageo, Loretta Leagatonu Puaauli and Regina Meredith.

Dr. Moyle presented a comparative analysis titled, “Samoa and Tonga: Who Copied Who?” Local author and musician Chande Drabble followed with “Tusi Pese Fatuga Tuai a Samoa.” Fine Arts faculty member Regina Meredith explored “The Love Affair of Art and Music,” and Galumalemana Alfred Hunkin, Retired Program Director of Samoan Studies, Wellington NZ, shared his study of “The Story Depicted through the Words of Leafaitulagi.”

Poe Mageo of the ASCC Fine Arts Faculty, shared his insights on “Lyrics & Lines: Poetic Presence Between Folk Songs and Literary Elements;” ASCC Community and Natural Resources Division Director Tapaau Dr. Dan Aga, Illuminated “The Evolution of the Marching Band in American Samoa;” and Loretta Leagatonu Puaauli, also of the Fine Arts Department, discussed “Liturgical Music of the Catholic Church in American Samoa.”

“I was very happy with the turnout of the forum,” reflected Tuiasosopo. “I particularly liked the variety of topics presented, and the students and faculty in the audience were also very impressed. For me, the interesting thing was that all of the papers were focused on the cultural aspects of Samoan music, including history and language.”

In addition to its article on the forum at ASCC, the ICTM newsletter also notes the appointment of Tuiasosopo as the ICTM Liaison Officer for American Samoa.

“The forum highlighted the diversity of expression within the music of Samoa,” said Tuiasosopo. “It was an honor to have Dr. Moyle as keynote speaker, since his collection of field recordings allow us to hear and study a Samoan traditional music that we rarely hear nowadays, and his research findings are vital to the academic literature that exists on the subject of music in Samoa.”

Also featured was a work in progress titled “From Conch Shell to Computer,” a documentary film by Daniel Pouesi. While the filmmaker himself was unable to attend, appearances in the film by many local figures on the music scenes of Pago Pago and Apia ensured high local interest in the work when its final version is given release.