Music and Language in Duna Pikono

Kirsty Gillespie, Lila San Roque

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    [Extract] The relationship between music and language has been a topic of scholarship for many years, across the academic world. In the Duna “sung story” genre of pikono, systems of music and language are interdependent and it is this relationship that our chapter explores. In keeping with the topic of this volume, our discussion only relates to pikono that is sung. Sung pikono is considered by the Duna to be the height of the craft, and this is the mode of delivery for male performances. Women also create pikono, however the performance context and their delivery of pikono is much different. Men typically sing pikono to groups of men in men’s houses at night (see Kendoli, this volume). Women, on the other hand, tell (rather than sing) pikono to other women or to children, often in their homes, as reported by Modjeska (1977:332). We have found that often the pikono told by women feature sections of sung text that most commonly illustrate a musical event of some kind, such as a courting song or a lament, which occurs within the story. Predominantly, however, women’s pikono are in spoken form, and as such will not be discussed here.1We focus on men’s sung performance of pikono, but in particular we examine a performance of pikono by one man, Kiale Yokona, whom we met in March 2005 at Hirane parish2in the Kopiago area, where we were both conducting our doctoral research. Kiale arrived from the neighbouring parish of Mbara, and word quickly spread that he would be telling a pikono at the Hirane men’s house that night. We dropped by the men’s house briefly and, conforming to the gender rules governing the space, arranged for him to perform for us the next evening in another location.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSung Tales from the Papua New Guinea Highlands: Studies in Form, Meaning, and Sociocultural Context
    Editors Alan Rumsey & Don Niles
    Place of PublicationCanberra Australia
    PublisherANU ePress
    ISBN (Print)9781921862205
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    Dive into the research topics of 'Music and Language in Duna Pikono'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this