"Music of Indonesia, Vol. 19: Music of Maluku: Halmahera, Buru, Kei" - Various Artists

Various Artists
CD cover


Musically, the vast province of Maluku ("the Moluccas") is one of the least known regions of Indonesia. Here we present music from three islands: Halmahera in the north, Buru in the center, and Kei Besar in the south. From Halmahera comes togal, entertainment music played on stringed instruments plus flute, drums, and a singer. From Buru we offer a varied selection: men's songs with drumming, an excerpt from a night-long sung narrative, jew's harp pieces, and a gong ensemble. Aside from two ensembles of flute and percussion, our recordings from Kei Besar are mainly vocal; solos, a duo, and choruses offering advice, recounting history, and asserting territorial boundaries (an important use for songs in Maluku); there is also a rowing song sung by children. Finally we return to Halmahera and present selections from a dabus performance accompanied by singing and frame drums. In dabus, a Muslim ritual derived from Sufi practice, men stab themselves vigorously with iron awls, but the spiritual power of the ritual leader protects them from serious injury.