Numerous dimensions of this paper were stimulated by and formulated in response to two of my favorite groove-sters, Robert Plant Armstrong and Charles Keil, to whom it is dedicated. Bob was my main uptown source of inspiration; elegant, visual, heady, abstract, he could contemplate every phenomenological ounce of melody from a sculpted object. I think of Bob as the His Master's Voice of the groove, loving the intensity of form, and the sensuality of witnessing it. Charlie has been my strongest downtown critic, hearing Kaluli ideas and sounds as street-solid critiques of Western modes of musical production and consumption, always ready to help celebrate what liberation or resistance they can inspire. I think of Charlie as the James Brown (“Give it up or turnit a-loose!”) proto-rap-scratcher of the groove, putting pennies on the tone arm, push-press-pulling the record back and forth before digging the spin.
Research support for fieldwork with the Kaluli 1976-7, 1982, 1984 was generously provided by the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the American Philosophical Society. For discussion of early variants or versions of these ideas much thanks and no blame to audience participants at lectures/colloquia at the University of Texas Semiotics Colloquium, Rice University Circle, Columbia University Center for Ethnomusicology, American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings, New York University Anthropology Department, Carleton University Conference on Alternative Musicology. As always, it is a pleasure to acknowledge the help of my collaborators and kinsmen, nado Babi (Bambi B. Schieffelin) and nabas Bage (Edward L. Schieffelin), both of whom lifted-up-over several versions of this essay, and Jubi, Kulu, Gigio, Honowo, Ayasilo, and many other Kaluli who have shared song, talk, food, and trail. Thanks too for helpful lift-up-over comments to Dieter Christensen, John Miller Chernoff, Charlie Keil, Gail Kligman, Greg Urban, and anonymous readers. Bikpela thanks to Shari Robertson for her photographs, and to Don Niles of the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies Music Department for tracking down the original Krymus Band recording of Wanpela Meri.