Fijian music combines the traditional Melanesian and Polynesian styles, as much of Fiji is influenced by these two cultures. However, other cultures, including the Indo-Fijians, have played a part in Fijian music as well. Folk music, traditional dances and different instruments are also largely involved with this type of music. The songs of Fiji are upbeat with beautiful rhythms and harmonies, and even the more modern music styles still convey aspects of ritualistic and traditional patterns.
Fijian Folk Music
Fijian folk music includes a variety of instruments that give the music its unique and beautiful sound, along with traditional dances. Like their Polynesian neighbors, modern Fijians play the ukulele, guitar, mandolin and different indigenous instruments, most commonly the lali drums. These types of drums were once used as a form of communication to announce important events, such as births, deaths, wars and victories. Now the larger lali drums are used to call people to church or for social gatherings, while the smaller version (lali ni meke) is used to play music. The derua, which is made up of tubes of bamboo stamped onto mats or on the ground, is another Fijian percussion instrument.
The Meke is a complex traditional Fijian spiritual folk dance that is combined with voices. The various types of Meke include the war dance, men’s or women’s fan dance, men’s spear dance, men’s club dance, women’s standing dance and men’s or women’s sitting dance. Men’s dance movements are vigorous, while the women display graceful and controlled movements. The Meke can be performed to narrate important events, such as the installment of a chief or a war.
Fijian pop is the more modern style of music in Fiji, combining both Western and traditional Fijian styles. A few modern performers in Fiji include Nuku Katudrau and Danny Costello, while Laisa Vulakoro became renowned in the ‘80s for creating Vude, a style that combines Fijian island music, country, rock and roll, and disco.
Because of the large Indian population, Indians have also contributed to music in Fiji. Out of all the Indo-Fijian music styles, the most popular are the Bhajans, which are devotional types of music accompanied by a harmonium and a dholak (a type of drum). CDs of this music style have been exported internationally as well.