ISSN: 1834-6057


  1. Cover
  2. Contents
  3. Introduction: Island Music and Performance Cultures 10.21463/shima.11.2.03
    Philip Hayward and Junko Konishi
  4. Becoming Island: The Aquapelagic Assemblage of Benten-sai Festivals on Sakurajima, in Sai Village, northern Japan 10.21463/shima.11.2.04
    Jun'ichiro Suwa
    Benten-sai, Benzaiten, Sai, aquapelagic assemblage
    In the maritime districts of Sai village, on Shimokita Peninsula in the far north of Japan’s Honshu island, annual one-day festivals called Benten-sai are held to worship Benzaiten, the Hindu-Buddhist-Shintō goddess deeply associated with islands in Japan. In Yagoshi District, an uninhibited rocky islet named Sakurajima serves as the sacred domain for Benzaiten on a set day each year when a flotilla of boats arrives, a local folk dance is performed and ceremonial food and drink is consumed. During the ritual, the barren rock becomes an island by means of performance and the residents who conduct it also become part of an aquapelagic assemblage as the flotilla parades in traditional fishing waters, extending the space of the island into the sea. As a consequence, the performance, the goddess and the island become each other as (and in) an aquapelagic assemblage.
  5. Song Monuments in Okinawa: Intersections of Sound, Place and Memory 10.21463/shima.11.2.05
    Matt Gillan
    Okinawa; Place; Folksong; Musical topography; Ryukyu; Musical pilgrimage
    Okinawa has one of Japan’s most thriving traditional music cultures, and songs are an important way that Okinawans understand and construct their island community. Most Okinawan songs have strong regional connections within Okinawa, either through lyrics that sing of local topography, events, or people, or because the melody is believed to have originated in a particular village. From the mid-20th Century on, many villages began constructing ‘song monuments’ (Japanese kahi) commemorating songs, composers, or lyrics, in order to create a tangible focus for what was essentially an intangible cultural entity. These monuments usually involve a substantial financial investment, either from local government or private donations, and are often placed in prominent spatial positions within the village. These song monuments are extremely popular among Okinawan music aficionados, and several guidebooks have been published to guide people to these sites. In recent years, bus tours have been organised to transport groups of aficionados en masse to these sites, and since 2015, a Facebook page has enabled the sharing of photographs and information relating to song monuments. The song monument phenomenon is particularly interesting for the way that it acts as a site for the simultaneous construction of connections between sound (the songs that performers sing), geographical space (the locations to which songs are connected) and community (the interpersonal links that are formed as people engage with song monuments). In this article I draw on my own experience visiting song monuments as part of the Okinawan music community, in order to analyse their social importance in modern Okinawa. I consider the song monument phenomenon in the context of domestic tourism, as well as a widespread culture of pilgrimage in Japan.
  6. North Meets South: Eisā and the Wrapping of Identity on Okinoerabu Island, Japan 10.21463/shima.11.2.06
    Henry Johnson and Sueo Kuwahara
    Amami, Eisā, Identity, Okinawa, Okinoerabu
    The small island of Okinoerabu in the Nansei archipelago to the southwest of Japan is located at a crossroads of sub-national cultural flows and exhibits a distinct cultural emblem of island identity in the form of a prominent performing art called eisā. This performance style, which combines drumming, choreography and live or recorded music, has its roots in Okinawa prefecture (to the southwest of Okinoerabu), where its function has moved predominantly from a religious ritual context to everyday entertainment, and nowadays signifies regional, cultural and island identity across several cultural spheres. This article offers a musical history and ethnography of eisā on Okinoerabu in terms of the layers of cultural association that are wrapped in its discourse and practice. The authors show how inter- and intra-island cultural flows, adoption, localisation and transformation help define Okinoerabu identity through eisā, which is often expressed on the island in terms of transregional identity.
  7. Musical Performances in the Hebridean Experience Economy 10.21463/shima.11.2.07
    Sarah R. MacKinnon
    Experience Economy, Tourism, Outer Hebrides, Archipelago, Music
    In a world of increasingly undifferentiated goods and services experiences are said to be the next source of value-adding economic opportunity. Experiences differ from all other economic offerings by being inherently embodied and personalised and the experiences that can attach the most value will be those that are the most engaging and transformative. The experiential and transformational nature of tourism, and particularly island tourism, leads it to be a potential growth sector within an Experience Economy. This article explores how islanders within the Outer Hebrides of Scotland are (co-)creating engaging experiences through music performances in the form of festivals, ceilidhs, and bar sessions to increase tourism spend. This bottom-up approach to socio-economic development is novel in this context as musical performances in the Outer Hebrides have long been tied to the Gaelic language and culture. However, until recently they have not been considered a consumable economic offering. This article explores how using the lens of the Experience Economy offers new insights for islanders to generate tourism spend on their own terms.
  8. A Theory of Vibe: Ecomusicologies on Hornby Island 10.21463/shima.11.2.08
    Andrew Mark
    ecomusicology, sociomusicology, musicking, vibe, participatory discrepancies, Hornby Island
    This article offers ways of considering the relationship between musicking, community, and place that arose from research with residents of Hornby Island, British Columbia. I advance a theory of vibe that captures how Hornby Islanders understand the role of musicking in their society and its importance for community solidarity, and I offer practical examples of this theory in action. Throughout the article, I discuss the relationship between Islanders’ ideas, Charles Keil’s theory of participatory discrepancies and my conclusions.
  9. Buai: “There is Good and Bad There” — Experiencing and narrating the spiritual power of music and dance in the New Guinea Island Region 10.21463/shima.11.2.09
    Paul Wolffram
    Papua New Guinea, Sorcery, Lak, New Ireland, Buai
    Buai is a form of sorcery known throughout the New Guinea Island region of Papua New Guinea. This socially sanctioned form of magical practice is predominantly used for creative ends, particularly the conjuring of music and dance material. In many parts of New Ireland and among the Lak people of Southern New Ireland, Buai is relied upon to deliver new songs and dances for community celebrations and ritual performance. The practitioners of Buai, known as tena Buai, are revered for their creative powers and occasionally feared for their potential to use their power for destructive ends. Through a combination of personal experience and conversations with tena Buai of Southern New Ireland, this article explores the ways in which tena Buai are perceived by their communities. In this article I take up the idea that social practices, actions and understandings such as those of the Buai practice are intersubjectively constituted through narrative as well as practice and therefore in a constant state of change, flux and negotiation.
  10. Only in Mentawai: Unique Primate Vocalisations and Songs in an Isolated Indonesian Island Group 10.21463/shima.11.2.10
    Linda Burman-Hall
    Mentawai, (Si)Kerei, Songs, Primates, Bilou
    Biogeographical isolation has produced a unique rainforest biome and indigenous culture in Mentawai. While its huge surf is famous worldwide, Mentawai’s ecology and peoples remain comparatively unstudied. Alhough Mentawai evolved almost as many endemics as the Galápagos, its hunter-horticulturalists are surprisingly unrelated to Sumatran peoples. This study explores gibbon vocalisations and traditional animist beliefs and songs about gibbons and other primates in Mentawai’s three southern islands and makes a case to document and preserve this intangible cultural heritage. The most important of Mentawai's six endemic primates is the Kloss’s gibbon (Hylobates klossii, locally called bilou), a small, black, monogamous, singing ape. The bilou plays a significant role in the traditional animist cosmology of Mentawai: simultaneously considered a changeling human, a rainforest spiritual guardian and a resource for shamanic healing, at times the bilou spirit can also be an evil trickster or harbinger of death. Deep in the rainforests, mated female bilou sing solo or “duet” melodiously with each other along mutual territorial boundaries. While deforestation and modern hunting endanger all Mentawai primates, humans still imitate the bilou, and elderly (Si)Kerei (shaman) again can perform the endangered animist heritage of bilou songs.
  11. Unstable Pitch In The Rainforest And The Mimesis Of Music: The articulation of audio technology and musical techniques in the bamboo panpipes of ’Are’are, Solomon Islands 10.21463/shima.11.2.11
    Hidenori Samoto
    The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how musicians in the Solomon Islands accepted an audio technology ― the electronic tuner ― and how it influenced their musical activities. Through an ethnographic case study of how indigenous musicians thought and managed the materiality of their musical instruments, I show that they regarded the audio technology as a symbol of a global standard of music in contrast to the elastic materiality of their bamboo instruments. While the process may be understood as a standardisation of indigenous music that involved the musicians adopting a rationalistic or modernistic way of thinking, I argue that we also can interpret the phenomenon as reflecting a continuity between the audio technology and the magical significance they assigned to their indigenous instrumental music. In the conclusion, I discuss how we might describe and analyse the hybridisation of indigenous musical technique and audio technology.
    Musical techniques, Audio technology, Solomon Islands, Bamboo panpipes
  12. Interpreting Shima Through Song: Whaling songs in the islands of Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan 10.21463/shima.11.2.12
    Felicity Greenland
    Japan, Nagasaki Prefecture, whaling, folksong, island, heritage
    In the south of Japan, 5 of the many islands in Nagasaki Prefecture are home to 27 traditional Japanese whaling songs. Mapping and thematic analysis of these songs in relation to the broader nationwide corpus of folksongs in general, and whaling songs in particular, reveals the importance, geographical spheres and character of the islands of Nagasaki Prefecture within Japanese whaling heritage as a whole. Relative to the rest of Japan, the islands have an abundance of whaling songs. These songs show signs of connectedness, having certain elements in common with (non-whaling) folksongs across the country and also have other elements in common with the songs of other whaling communities. Furthermore, a small number of unique elements are signs of local distinctions. Perhaps most significantly, the majority of themes present in the national corpus are also found in the Nagasaki Prefecture island songs, thus casting islands as an invaluable repository for this aspect of culture. In the Nagasaki case, islandness spawned a high density of whaling communities historically. More recently, the drive to nurture local and national culture has been faceted by differentiated contributions from these multiple communities. As a result, this study finds that small islands are not merely convenient units for research but that they play a central role in the holding of broader cultural phenomena.
  13. Myth-Making Through Music: The “lost songs” of St Kilda 10.21463/shima.11.2.13
    Sarah R. MacKinnon and Michael Hannan
    St Kilda, music, mythscape, islomania, thanatourism, mediascape
    The Lost Songs of St Kilda is an album of piano pieces reportedly taught to a Scottish mainlander by a St Kildan music teacher. The album comprises of piano recordings, performed by the mainlander, Trevor Morrison, together with orchestral arrangements of the pieces and was released in September 2016. It reached the top of the British classical music chart shortly after and became the fastest selling posthumously released debut album in British chart history. This paper explores how a contemporary recording of songs reportedly from St Kilda has captured the British fascination with a “remote” place and a “lost” island society in a manner that represents what might be termed “thana-islomania”. The article will suggest that the contemporary recordings and the packaging of the album act in concert to create emotional geographies of St Kilda that are constructed in a mythical place-time, a “mythscape”.
  14. Maracatu Nação Noronha: Embodied cultural practice and its sustainability on an isolated Brazilian island 10.21463/shima.11.2.14
    Jon Fitzgerald, Philip Hayward, and Arianne Reis
    Fernando de Noronha, maracatu, Maracatu Nação Noronha, tourism, cultural sustainability
    Fernando de Noronha is situated approximately 430 km from the northeast coast of Brazil, and is the only populated island within a UNESCO World Heritage-listed archipelago of the same name. This article focusses on the contemporary maracatu ensemble based on the island, Maracatu Nação Noronha, and its significance within the local community. Maracatu is a distinctive northeast Brazilian performance genre with historical links to Candomblé, an Afro-Brazilian religion that blends the African practice of worshipping multiple orixás (spirits) with the Catholic practice of worshipping multiple saints. Maracatu has a long history of grassroots performative traditions and is closely connected to Brazilian carnaval. Maracatu ensembles typically include percussionists, singers, dancing orixás and characters representing members of the court within African crowning ceremonies held during the era of slavery. The article examines the development of Maracatu Nação Noronha since 2002, with a particular focus on music, movement and dance. It explores links between Maracatu Nação Noronha’s activities and the historical development of maracatu, and examines how the group has adapted to the island’s socio- cultural environment in the process of connecting with, and educating, local and tourist audiences. It discusses the significance and sustainability of embodied practices and cultural identity development and creation in the context of a small island whose community is still significantly rooted on mainland practices. The article draws on field trips by the authors in 2012 and 2014, as well as interviews with local residents heavily involved with establishment and maintenance of island maracatu.
  15. Puerto Rico: The Quest for a “National” Anthem 10.21463/shima.11.2.15
    Valérie Vézina
    Nationalism, islandness, symbols, national anthem(s), Puerto Rico
    Since the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Puerto Rico has been under the control of the United States. As an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico has a separate identity that manifests itself in various ways. One of the most evident ones is through language, Spanish being the lingua franca for more than 90% of Puerto Ricans. But its nationalist stance is also found in symbols, such as its anthem. Although Puerto Rico adopted an official anthem in 1952, there has been a continuing quest for one that truly expresses the territory. The ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ is sometimes played but there is a more interesting story regarding ‘La Borinqueña’, the official anthem of Puerto Rico. Two opposing versions of this anthem exist. What is the story behind them? What is the meaning of each of those versions? Which version is the official version? This paper will address those questions and link them to the particular political status of Puerto Rico.
  16. Musical Boundaries: The Making of Traditional Newfoundland Music(ians) 10.21463/shima.11.2.16
    Samantha Breslin
    Newfoundland, music, tradition, authenticity, professionalism
    This article explores the boundaries that are constructed around traditional Newfoundland music and musicianship, focusing on the relationships among place, tradition, and history. Drawing primarily on ethnographic fieldwork conducted during the summer of 2009, I explore how some musicians trace historical and place-based connections based on their experiences playing Newfoundland music on the Island and with particular people. In doing so, these musicians draw on concepts of tradition, and ‘emotional’ and ‘historical’ authenticity, to connect certain tunes or settings, and styles of playing to the history and culture of Newfoundland, constructing the “Newfoundlandness” of traditional Newfoundland music. These practices dovetail with the professionalisation of traditional musicianship and provide a means for some to assert their status and authority as traditional Newfoundland musicians. While musicians have varying conceptions about Newfoundland and its music, the connections made among music, place, and history by some musicians work to delimit the boundaries around which music and musicians ‘belong’ to Newfoundland.