It is not often that you find musicians using nature to aid in their musical performances. In the Melanesian culture, a rare tradition passed down from generation to generation of women still lives on. Lakes, rivers or the sea water is used as a percussion in this tradition, to provide the music with singing. In recent years, this beautiful tradition has been shared with the world through international tours and festival performances. The performers of the Vanuatu Women’s Water Music group (two pictured) hail from the remote northern tropical islands of Vanuatu. They travel the world performing the Na Mag and Ne Lang dances as a prelude to the mystical water music, dressed in their traditional costumes of Gaua and Mere Lava made from flowers and leaves, coconuts and pandanus. Their performance is truly mesmerizing as they reimagine the old with contemporary expressions of Matto – bringing together traditional beats and rhythms with ukulele-led melodies and soaring vocal harmonies.
“And in an age when most bands are dominated by just a handful of instruments — drums, bass and guitar — I encounter a new way of making music every year at the RWMF. In 2011, women from a village in Vanuatu turned the lake of the cultural village into their instrument, cupping their hands under the water to make booming percussion sounds”, wrote Michael Switow when reviewing the women’s performance at the Rainforest World Music Festival.
To listen to one of their songs, click here