Small Island Big Song: Songlines Music Awards 2019 – winners! | Songlines

Asia & Pacific

Small Island Big Song
Small Island Big Song

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The brainchild of Australian producer and filmmaker Tim Cole and his Taiwanese partner BaoBao Chen, Small Island Big Song is a little, jewel-like idea that grew into a huge project, involving a three-year journey around 16 islands in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, recording indigenous musicians in natural settings. The project explores the Austronesian migration theory that many present-day Oceanic cultures originated in Taiwan and seeks to establish musical links between cultures as far afield as Hawaii, Madagascar, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Borneo, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tahiti, Guam and Rapa Nui (Easter Island). More than 100 musicians were involved; Cole and Chen then fused the individual performances into a brilliant smorgasbord of overlapping and inter-connected styles, accentuating both the similarities and regional differences of traditional instruments, voices, language and rhythm. It’s also a heartfelt plea for environmental awareness and preservation. The 18 tracks feature an intriguing range of sounds, including Hawaiian falsetto singers, Polynesian/Melanesian log-drumming, valiha (zither), Solomon panpipes, Sarawak sapé (lute) and an inspired rapper from Madagascar lamenting that ‘the turtles are crying’ from the damage being done to the coral reefs. Wonderful stuff.

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