Home Institution

University of Oregon

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Samoa: Pacific Islands Studies


This paper was compiled during November 2008. It was a research project that sought out the perspectives of various diverse musicians in Samoa at that time. These musicians included music school instructors, Peace Corps volunteers, Samoan orchestra composers and conductors, traditional Samoan composers, traveled Samoan musicians as well as contemporary Samoan artists. The paper examines how the purposes of music in Samoan society have shifted, altered or changed from traditional times to current-day Samoa in the face of development, a growing economy and increased contact with outside influences. Although the music of Samoa, its purposes, values, uses and aesthetics have changed, there is still a core “traditional” music of Samoa. Traditional Samoan music still has a purpose and a function in today’s society, but has partially given way to contemporary, externally-influenced Samoan music in the new age of development, greatly for the purpose of entertainment. At this time, Samoa is at a cultural crossroads, sandwiched between a way of life based on subsistence and its traditional cultural practices, and one based on a budding economy and fashioning itself to existing global cultures. Now, there are many issues in music tied to development such as education, technology and outside influence that factor greatly into the changes in Samoan music. With the shift towards economic development, there have been various changes in the cultural values of Samoa. One way to view the changes in Samoan culture is to look at the music of Samoa. This is the perspective of this paper.


Anthropology | Music | Social and Cultural Anthropology



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