A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 822 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 14.
influenced by the same rules which regulate the taste of other countries.  When we had performed, we desired them in return to give us an opportunity of admiring their talents, and one of them immediately began a very simple tune; it was however harmonious, and, as for as we could judge, superior to the music of all the nations in the tropical part of the South Sea, which we had hitherto heard.  It ran through a much more considerable compass of notes, than is employed at Otaheite, or even at Tonga-Tabboo; and had a serious turn which distinguished it very remarkably from the softer effeminate music of those islands.  The words seemed to be naturally arranged, and flowed very currently from the tongue.  When the first had finished his song, another began; his tune was different as to the composition, but had the same serious style which strongly marked the general turn of the people.  They were indeed seldom seen to laugh so heartily, and jest so facetiously, as the more polished nations of the Friendly and Society Islands, who have already learnt to set a great value on these enjoyments.  On the afternoon of this day, our friends importuned us to sing to them again.  We readily complied with their request, and when they seemed to wonder at the difference in our songs, we endeavoured to make them comprehend that we were natives of different countries.  Hearing this, they pointed out an elderly thin man in the circle of our hearers, and telling us that he was a native of Irromanga, desired him to sing to us.  The man immediately stepped forward, and began a song, in the course of which he made a variety of gesticulations, not only to our entertainment, but to the great satisfaction of all the people about him.  His song was to the full as musical as that of the people of Tanna, but it seemed to be of a droll or humorous nature, from his various ludicrous postures, and from the particular tone of the whole.  The language was utterly distinct from that of Tanna, but not harsh or ill suited to music.  It seemed likewise to have a certain metre, but very different from that slow and serious one which we heard this morning.  It appeared to us when he had done singing, that the people of Tanna spoke to him in his own language, but that he was not acquainted with theirs.  Whether he came as a visitor, or had been taken prisoner, we could not determine.”—­G.F.
According to this gentleman, these people had a musical instrument, which consisted of eight reeds like the syrin of Tonga-Tabbo, with this difference, that the reeds regularly decreased in size, and comprehended an octave, though the single reeds were not perfectly in tune.  It is worth while noticing here, that one of these people having one day blown with great violence into his hand several times, as a signal, he was soon answered by the sounding of several conchs in different places.—­E.


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