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Image / New Blackbird Stringband bass player Eric Jonsin

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New Blackbird Stringband bass player Eric Jonsin
Skinner-Jones, Ann
Larcom, Joan
Date Created and/or Issued
Summer 1981
Contributing Institution
UC San Diego, The UC San Diego Library
Ann Skinner-Jones and Joan Larcom Photographs
Rights Information
Under copyright
Constraint(s) on Use: This work is protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). Use of this work beyond that allowed by "fair use" requires written permission of the copyright holder(s). Responsibility for obtaining permissions and any use and distribution of this work rests exclusively with the user and not the UC San Diego Library. Inquiries can be made to the UC San Diego Library program having custody of the work.
Use: This work is available from the UC San Diego Library. This digital copy of the work is intended to support research, teaching, and private study.
Rights Holder and Contact
Skinner-Jones, Ann
The New Blackbird string band takes its name from "Blackbirds": local people captured by traders and sent to Queensland as forced laborers in the cane fields. Many villages, however small, have their own string bands, which became extremely popular after independence. Their song lyrics often gibe politically at colonialism and praise independence. Along with local performances, the Wintua string band traveled to play and sing publicly, and to participate in competitions among other string bands on the island of Malakula, and in battle-of-the-band competitions nationwide. Eric, the son of Chief Jonsin, is photographed with his tea chest bass, a wooden chest once used to deliver tea; the equivalent of a washtub bass in the U.S. When playing, the free end of the pole is braced against the lip of the chest so the string is taut. Plucking or slapping the string produces the musical tones. Changing pressure against the stick will vary the tension of the cord, which causes changes in pitch. The design painted on the chest shows the new blackbird, freed and rising/emerging from the land (critical to the Vanuatu identity.) There are two-crossed ukulele necks (instruments common in the bands) painted with the cleansing water/river flowing over the instruments toward the sea. The new blackbird (now free from the Condominium rule) represents the new life of the ni-Vanuatu, rising out of the energy of their protests for independence and their taking back of the indigenous land. Many string band lyrics celebrate the new dynamism of nationalism/nationhood and the reinvention of their cultural and political spirit. Audio cassettes are available in collection.
UC San Diego Library, UC San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0175 (
No linguistic content
String bands
Pacific Islands
Wintua (Malekula, Vanuatu)
South West Bay (Malakula, Vanuatu)
Elections and Politics
Influences of Outsiders
Pacific Islands
Wintua (Malekula, Vanuatu)
South West Bay (Malakula, Vanuatu)

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