Title: Ted Schwartz, Alan Lomax, and Victor Grauer discuss Manus and Usiai music of Papua New Guinea
Date recorded: May 9, 1963
Date recorded: May 9, 1963
Subject(s): Cantometrics; Ethnomusicology; Manus (Papua New Guinean people); Usia of Papua New Guinea; George Murdock's cross-cultural classification system
Physical form: Reel to Reel
Tape number: T1238
Track Number: 1
Archive ID: T1238
Belongs to: Schwartz/Grauer/Lomax, 1963
Note: Ted Schwartz is writing paper on the patterns of variable integration in the Admiralty Islands. All the inhabitants intermarry, are polylingual, economically interdependent, and have a system of exchange based on marriage, trade, and warfare. The Usiai live in rough country in villages of 120 (max) separated by ravines and are economically more self-sufficient. Men and women live apart, and women do the economically important work of gardening. Men do the heavy work of (slash and burn) clearing and engage in warfare. There is a high degree of physical contact and horseplay between Usiai males, and probably, homosexuality. The Manus live on the coast in villages of 250 people. Manus males do the economically important work of fishing and boat making. Women and men live together. Not self sufficient, depend on trade. Manus children do not like to touch each other. Traditionally, women had important role as mediums (probably also among Usiai). Despite cultural and linguistic similarities, the Manus and Usiai diverge in psychological assessments. Manus are extremely precise. Usiai are more relaxed and passive in every respect. Manus value word-for-word memorization of long poems; they rehearse and listen to the same songs over and over. Usiai find Manus music not beautiful and too wordy. Usiai music is melodic. Manus looks down on Usiai music as not having enough words. Types of Manus music are: enrilans (dirges), wari (commemorative ballads of regret over outstanding people), work songs (leader with chorus of shouts), children's songs (typically four-line refrain, repeated over and over), and myths sung to drum accompaniment. They use a specialized allusive poetic language that is filled with double meanings, probably perceived as nonsense by the children, who nevertheless like to repeat it precisely. Songs may be commissioned. People listen in order to learn them. Some people, including some women, have reputation as poet-composers who can "turn the talk" (refers to allusive, metaphorical style of poetry). Singing as a leisure activity is looked down on. Traditional songs less so. Instrumental music. Drums are used for long-distance signaling (using complex tattoos like Chinese ideographs). Tattoos used phrases with fixed, perfect intervals, not rhythm. Unison playing is common. Usiai have complex garamat (slit-gong orchestras). Place in orchestra determined by clan membership status. Social organization tied into totemic system. They dance to orchestras. Women danced in background. Cult music. They sing their entire repertoire of (Christian) hymns at cult services. Appear bored and uninterested. The high degree of physical and cultural homogeneity among the Manus suggest recent origin for the group. The Usiai have internalized Manus contempt for them and are getting grimmer; Manus, on the other hand, are becoming more relaxed.
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About the session: Ted Schwartz, Alan Lomax, and Victor Grauer discuss Manus and Usiai music of Papua New Guinea
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