Traditional music and dances

Contemporary New Caledonian music is a vibrant fusion of traditional Kanak sounds and rhythms with Oceanian and Caribbean influences and Western music genres like jazz, rap and funk.

The essential

  • Traditional Kanak music
  • Traditional Kanak dance

Modern Kanak music is diverse and creative, embracing genres such as reggae, rock and soul. The term used to describe this distinctive modern musical style is KANEKA, derived from “KA” for “cadence”, “NE” for “née” (born) and “KA” for “Kanak”. So “KANEKA” can be translated as “cadence born from the Kanak (soul)”.

However, each region has its own unique sound and rhythm, and the KANEKA music characteristic of the Main Island is quite different from the KANEKA music heard in the Loyalty Islands.

Traditional forms of music, in which song plays a key role, have also been passed down the years. An example of this is the choral Taperas, usually sung a cappella and bequeathed by the Protestant missionaries. The ae-as, the cada and the ayoii, tribal chants performed only by men and accompanied by percussion instruments, also form part of the Kanak intangible cultural heritage.

The pilou (or pilou-pilou) is another case in point. This traditional Kanak dance is performed at religious, social and clan festivals or gatherings. The pilou dance is a deep-rooted ancestral tradition and has a powerful symbolic significance. In times past, several forms of pilou were performed: “war pilous”, “mourning pilous” and “farewell pilous”. Nowadays, the pilou is danced to mark ceremonial occasions: births, weddings and funerals...