One of the unique features of the Solomon Islands is the talented panpipers, melodic tunes created from bamboo pipes, passed down from generations before.
Many say it is the music of the Gods – debatable – but what we can all agree on is that it is the sounds of our ancestors.
Panpipes are certainly not unique to the Solomon Islands; the earliest known images of panpipes appear in drawings of animal dances from Catal Hüyük in Anatolia (present day Turkey) dating from the 6th millennium BCE.
The ancient Greeks also have songs and folklore on the origins of the panpipe – as do other cultures the world over, in South America, Europe, parts of Oceania and Asia.
Panpipe in the Solomon Islands was one of the many ways various aspects of our culture was preserved – our reverence for the dead, or the birth of a child, a sweet lullaby, a ritual - they were all captured in chants accompanied by the panpipes. This is the unique aspect of panpipers in Solomon Islands – it is an aspect of our culture or history frozen in the melodic sounds of the panpipes.
Panpipe music is found in most of the main islands of the Solomons, each with their own unique blend, often distinctive from the other. Who is better is subjective, it really depends on who you talk to, and where they are from?
Today panpipes have been incorporated into modern music, and while some may say it dilutes the original sounds of our ancestors, we can argue that it ensures that the sounds of our ancestors march on into the future.