Across a broad, east-west band within Highland Papua New Guinea (see map), there are ways of telling stories which make use of special intonational and rhythmic patterns different from those of ordinary speech. Often dealing with relationships between people and land, these sung narratives or 'chanted tales' are a highly valued cultural resource. During 2003-2006 those performance genres were the subject of a research project based at Australian National University and funded by the Australian Research Council. The project brought together an interdisciplinary team of investigators to analyse the wide range of styles in which the sung tales are performed, and further the understanding of their implications for cross-cultural study of verbal art and the politics of land ownership in present-day Papua New Guinea.

The project is continuing in an informal way, and our write-up of the results is ongoing, with two books in preparation and other new publications continuing to appear. For details of these and other publications on New Guinea Highland sung narratives, see the Chanted tales bibliography (pdf, 24KB).

Updated:  7 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Culture, History & Language/Page Contact:  CHL webmaster