Sweet Lullaby - Deep Forest
Probably the most famous of all songs to come out of the Solomon Islands is the lullaby Rorogwela from the Baegu people in Malaita, which was sampled by Deep Forest on their 1992 album, Sweet Lullaby.
The original vocal was recorded by a Swiss-French ethnomusicologist called Hugo Zemp when he travelled to the Solomon Islands in 1970 and the singer is a woman called Afunakwa.
I was a big fan of Deep Forest when I was a student in the 1990's and I've always loved this song, although I had no idea of its connection with Malaita and the Solomon Islands.
I'm also posting a YouTube video which has the original recording from a UNESCO Musical Sources collection from 1973.
Mato by Narasirato
Solomon Islands is probably most famous for its traditional panpipe music and Narasirato, who come from the island of Malaita, are one of the Solomon's most famous panpipe groups. They played at festivals such as Glastonbury and Roskilde, so they're well known on the World Music stage. I particularly liked a song called Mato from their 2012 album Warato'o, but all of their stuff is great!
I found this video on YouTube which will give you a flavour of their music.
Soso Kakoi by Wasi Ka Nanara
Also quite well-known internationally is a panpipe group called Wasi Ka Nanara and I really liked the song Soso Kakoi from their album Sounds of Paradise - Native Pan Flutes of the Solomon Islands. There's nothing like a soft panpipe breeze from the Pacific Ocean when you're making your way to the train station on a rainy London morning!
I'm sharing a video from YouTube, which was made on a tour the band did in New Caledonia in 1998.
One of the most beautiful pieces of music I came across was, quite sadly, a funeral song, which appears on the 2011 album Spirit of Melanesia. The album features a collection of songs from Melanesia collected by the British ethnomusicologist, David Fanshawe, who had died the previous year. Fanshawe spent around 10 years travelling to the Pacific to record the music of remote islands in Melanesia, but also Polynesia and Micronesia.
If you wish to hear the song, you can get an excerpt on its page at Amazon.
Ta'Umai by Sharzy
When I was in Barbados earlier this year, I heard a lot of reggae music, as we were spinning around the island on the local shared taxis. There's something about reggae that seems to lend itself to tropical locations and I remember when I was blogging about Fiji back in November 2012, I was surprised to find that a lot of the most popular music there these days, is essentially a Pacific version of that very Caribbean sound!
Reggae seems to be very popular in the Solomon Islands as well and I really liked the song Ta'Umai by Sharzy, a well-known artist from Simbo in the Western Province. This song comes from his 2010 album, Iu Mi Flow and is an interesting mixture of English, Tok Pisin and Simbo! Another great song for a rainy London commute!
Murderer by Jahboy
Another popular artist of recent years is Jahboy, a.k.a. Kirwan Hatigeva, who combines reggae with a bit of hip-hop. He's of mixed Melanesian and Polynesian heritage and I really liked the song Murderer from his 2012 album LuvNLife.
Beautiful girl by DMP
I know it's a bit cheesy, but I developed a soft spot for the song Beautiful Girl by DMP. I find it really interesting in cultures that are incredibly masculine, how romantic the lyrics of male singers are sometimes and I can't imagine a woman singing a song about a man which has such a note of sad desperation!
Anyway, it's kind of catchy and I'm posting a YouTube-generated video below, so you can hear for yourself.
The Lagoon - conducted by Gavin Greenaway and composed by Hans Zimmer
I wrote about the movie The Thin Red Line in a previous blog post and, whilst I was doing my research, I also listened to the soundtrack for The Thin Red Line written by Hans Zimmer, the German composer who also did The Lion King and Gladiator.
My favourite track was The Lagoon as there is something quite haunting about this piece and it captures the slow-motion horror of the war in Guadalcanal, as well as integrating some native themes from the Solomon Islands. Although it's not traditional music from the Solomon Islands, I still felt it should be represented, as the Solomons and the war in Guadalcanal were the inspiration for the movie and its soundtrack.