Vanuatu Water Music

The Mystical Water Music from Vanuatu. In the isolated Northern tropical islands in the Banks and Torres region of Vanuatu, women wade up to their waist dressed with traditional clothing, including arm bands and headwear made from flowers, to perform mystical water music. Water is their instrument in a magical display of skill playing this instrument. The women stand waist-deep in the water, slapping and stirring the surface, and singing in the Mwerlap language.

Thomas Dick wrote an article about Vanuatu Water Music and the Mwerlap Diaspora: Music, migration, tradition, and tourism. The abstract of the article takes the case of the Mwerlap-speaking people from the islands of Gaua and Merelava in northern Vanuatu, this article investigates the forces at play in the mobility of people in Vanuatu. I describe the process by which a diasporic community transitioned into the Leweton Cultural Village in the urban setting of Luganville, Espiritu Santo. In a context of extremely high levels of linguistic and cultural diversity, the research project reported in this article examines the ways in which a diasporic community is navigating an intercultural space by mobilizing itself and its cultural assets in a variety of rapidly evolving formats that span a range of industries, sectors, and cultural transition areas. I add to the knowledge and understanding of the significance of subnational diasporas by exploring the role they can play as incubators of cultural export products, particularly in the music and tourism industries, by using the case of the ni-Vanuatu performers of women’s “water music”.