The typical style of Austronesian music is a combination of music and dance. The cultural feature of oral history reveals the importance of archiving Austronesian languages and chants nowadays. Austronesian music possesses different substantial functions in addition to entertainment, such as expressing political concepts, social status, heroic deeds, ancestral instructions, and so on. Each fixed tune stands for different functions, which allows a great deal of freedom as composing the lyrics with more flexibility. In this way, chants have been treated as newspapers, magazines and textbooks in modern society, to show the current events and to document the history.
Professor Osamu YAMAGUTI, the world-renowned ethnomusicologist and the expert of Palauan music, has been travelled almost all over Palau. Starting from the first visit in 1965-1966 and the following ones in 1989, 1994, 2003 and 2004, Prof. YAMAGUTI visited not only the Palau Main Island but also the outer islands as Sonsorol, Tobi (Hatohobei), Merir, Pulo Anna, and even to the outer islands of Yap (Yap State of FSM), in order to collect traditional music and dance.
With 56 open reel tapes, over 1,000 pages of manuscripts, 8mm silent films, and nearly 1,000 photos, the collections include many ancient chants that have been forgotten and are under reconstruction by Palau government now, and are highly considered as precious intangible cultural heritage.
This project is executed by project team from Taiwan and works with Prof. YAMAGUTI and Belau National Museum, collectively as “the Triangle Parties” (Taiwan, Japan, and Belau), in order to archive this precious intangible cultural heritage and keeps the outputs in comprehensive and professional levels.