Easter Island Music

Music and musical instruments of Easter Island

Easter Island there is interesting native music, deeply rooted in ancient traditions and legends transmitted from one generation to another. In the imagination of the singers, folklore can be observed that is conformed by rural chants different from the current songs of Polynesian origin, which are more cheerful. One of these songs is the Sau-Sau, a popular song and dance of Samoan origin that has become a characteristic dance of the island. Additionally, there are other popular songs and dances dedicated to the gods, warrior spirits, to rain and love.

Maea: They are hard and round sonorous stones that were beaten rhythmically and accompanied the singing groups. These stones were extracted from the seabed because they were resistant. The islanders accompanied the ancient chants clapping their hands. The dances included rhymed sounds made with the throat, and the rhythm was marked with a wooden stick used to hit the ground, a long mallet shaped like a thin paddle called Ua.

Keho: A primitive drum made of stone. A wide hole was dug in the ground, and then another circular smaller one in the middle, where an empty pumpkin covered with a slab stone was placed. On this stone, a singer or dancer would bang loudly with his naked feet following the rhythm of the music. The sound was obtained from the boom of the air contained in the hole, and the pumpkin served as a sounding box.

Hio (aerophone): It is a sort of bamboo flute with holes. According to existent references, it must have had a pitiful sound. The Tahitian word “hio” means “to whistle” or “to blow”.

Kauaha (idiophone): A naturally dissected equine jaw. The inferior maxillary bones preserve all the loose pieces in the dental alveolus, which do not fall out because of their shape. Two sounds are produced when the jaw (which is held by the front) is banged against the ground or the palm of the hand.

Ukelele (chordophone): This instrument comes from Polynesia and also receives the name of Hawaiian guitar. The box is similar to the guitar, though a lot smaller, and it has four strings.

Guitar (chordophone): Manufactured in the island, it was used a lot in the past. Today, most guitars are manufactured in the continent.

Upa-Upa (aerophone): Button or keyboard accordion.