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Various Artists
MUSIC OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC
Arc Music

By James Rodgers

Published March 3, 2006

Ethnic sound recordists are a rare breed. They travel to rural, small or obscure areas and record local music as it happens. David Fanshawe spent 10 years (1978-1988) in the Pacific islands of the South Seas, and recorded over 2,000 stereo tapes. He also has 950 boxes of slides and 40 volumes of hand-written journals documenting all of the traditional music he captured. Music Of The South Pacific is a collection of 27 songs from this vast archive of material. Like Alan Lomax’s priceless blues and folk recordings, Fanshawe has music that may have never been heard by a large audience if it wasn’t for his work. The thick booklet, which accompanies the music, gives history, background, a list of the instruments used and, in many cases, translations. It is fascinating to hear South Pacific traditional music, traditional lyrics and traditional instruments, and realize that these performances are like prehistoric insects caught in amber, beautiful moments in time captured and preserved forever. We need more Alan Lomaxes and David Fanshawes, for these recordings enhance and broaden our musical world.

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