Fijian Sigidrigi and the Sonic Representation and Construction of Place

Jennifer Cattermole


This paper explores how the inhabitants of Taveuni, Fiji’s third largest island, use the music genre known as sigidrigi (from the English ‘sing drink’) to articulate and redefine their relationships to particular places. Sigidrigi songs are often performed by groups of men to entertain people during informal yaqona (or kava as it is known throughout Polynesia) drinking sessions. They feature three or four-part vocal harmony, and are accompanied by guitar and/or ukulele. The repertoire consists of covers and localised versions of overseas songs, as well as songs composed by Fijians in styles adopted and adapted primarily from Northern America and Western Europe (for example, rock, pop, country and blues). The repertoire also includes songs from other Pacific islands, the Caribbean (for example, reggae), Indo-Fijian songs, and i taukei (indigenous Fijians of Melanesian or Polynesian descent) children’s songs and meke (an art form consisting of music, dance and costuming whose origin pre-dates European contact). An examination of sigidrigi song lyrics (in terms of both language use and textual content), band names, and various elements of musical style (such as texture, timbre, meter etc.) reveals how Taveuni islanders have used this music genre to (re)construct communities at geographical scales ranging from the local to the supranational.


music, place, Fiji

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