Courtesy David Fanshawe
David Fanshawe, with just some of the hundreds of tape recordings made during his travels in the South Pacific.
Cover for the CD South Pacific: Island Music, available on the Nonesuch Explorer Series.
More than 20 years ago, recording engineer David Fanshawe set out on an adventure — to record the music of the South Pacific.
He traveled the South Pacific islands with a rucksack, 200 rolls of tape, 35mm film and a stereo tape recorder.
One of his first stops was a drinking club in the island nation of Tonga. The drink of choice was kava, prepared from the root of a shrub called the pepper plant.
On that night in 1978, Fanshawe recorded a traditional love song called "Faikava,"sung by the villagers of Holonga on the island of Vava'U in the Tongan archipelago.
"You can hear Kava being poured by a girl garlanded with sweet smelling white flowers," Fanshawe says.
Below, a translation of "Faikava":
The dear lily flower is staying behind, but we would be weeping remembering the appearance.
You can please yourself and a select a sweetheart — or somebody who would be your equal, and who might have known you better.
My dear Maile (leaves), I wish that you could read my mind as this romance will drive me crazy.
Alas, poor me. Alas.
I don't know. How could I be? How could I be?
Fanshawe's recordings, called South Pacific: Island Music, are available on the Nonesuch Explorer Series.