Giving women a voice

Christian songs and female expression at Kopiago, Papua New Guinea


  • Kirsty Gillespie Griffith University



Papua New Guinea, gender, Christian music, laments, women, composition, empowerment


At Lake Kopiago, in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, women’s public music-making is often restricted and men are the most visible performers. However, the introduction of Christianity has seen women become more visible in the musical landscape through their participation in church musical activities. Christian songs learnt by women in church are now spilling over into the secular realm, forming the basis for much community composition. Women are able to directly express their desires, and their anxieties, in music, using these newly introduced musical tools. This paper investigates the processes of women’s composition in these terms, focusing on songs composed and performed by the Duna women of Lake Kopiago, Southern Highlands Province.

Author Biography

  • Kirsty Gillespie, Griffith University

    Kirsty Gillespie is a Research Fellow in the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre, Griffith University, and a Visiting Fellow in the School of Culture, History and Languages at the Australian National University.


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How to Cite

Gillespie, K. (2010). Giving women a voice: Christian songs and female expression at Kopiago, Papua New Guinea. Perfect Beat, 11(1), 7-24.