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Ethnomusico1ogy, Winter 2010 Recording Reviews p. 171

Dema: Music from the Marind Anim. Anthology of music from West Papua #2. 2008. Recorded by Jan Verschueren. PAN Records, Leiden, RMP 4018. The Verschueren collection 1962, Royal Tropical Institute. One compact disc. Booklet (20 pp.) in English by Fred Gales and Rein Spoorman, including two maps and photographs from Dutch archives.

This significant CD is the second in a series documenting the little-known musical traditions of West Papua from the Institute for Multicultural Music Studies (IMS), an independent Netherlands-based foundation that strives to advance the study of traditional musics through print, audiovisual, and online media. Founded in 1999, its first projects focus on the cultural heritage of former Dutch colonies, including West Papua and Suriname. Recordings have been made in West Papua since 1910, and although most have languished in archives in the Netherlands. these recordings remain-largely due to Indone­sian repression of West Papuan culture after occupation in 1963-the largest collections of musical traditions from this region. Only two brief tracks had been released prior to the efforts of the IMS. Thus, this CD series, with its detailed documentation, is an invaluable contribution to the body of published musical knowledge. The initial CD in the anthology, Muo Remé: Dance of the Cassowary (2002), focuses on musics from the northeast coastal area recorded by J.C. Anceaux between 1954 and 1961, many of which are the only known examples of their kind.
Dema: Music from the Marind Anim takes the listener to the southeast region of West Papua. It features forty-two tracks of music drawn from a col­lection of recordings made by Jan Verschueren, a Catholic priest who worked in the area from 1931 until his death in 1970. Fluent in the language, he had a deep respect for Marind traditions, and-despite political and missionary efforts to the contrary-encouraged the use of local artistic motifs and mu­sical elements in more contemporary contexts. He also published and con­tributed to the scholarship of others. The 1962 recordings were undertaken at the request of the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, and they, along with wax cylinder recordings made in 1933 at the request of Jaap Kunst (two of which are included on the CD), are the only existing records of the music of the great cults of the Marind people.
A primary- feature of Marind Anim culture was belief in the Dema, spirits associated with ancestors, places, objects, totems, and forces of nature. Dema created the world, and the stories of their travels were reenacted in dramatic performances during which men-wearing elaborate, colorful costumes­-would be transformed into the spirits. Interwoven with Dema beliefs were sexual practices, including group sex and ritualized male homosexuality, that early twentieth-century Dutch authorities and missionaries viewed as not only unacceptable but also a major factor in the spread of introduced venereal diseases. Consequently, by the early 1920s the magnificent feasts and rituals,

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along with headhunting and cannibalism, were officially forbidden. Although the culture formally disappeared, some aspects remained in individual memory and were resurrected to some extent when the ban was lifted in the 1950s..The CD includes six types of Marind music that offer a tantalizing glimpse into the sounds of the great celebratory pageants of the past, including initiation rituals, cult celebrations, entertainment dances, headhunting, and funerals. Overall, the musical style is characterized by solo and group performance (sometimes responsorial), narrow melodic range, and relaxed vocal timbre. Depending on the genre, melodies feature short descending phrases, elongated syllables, and sometimes a second part that sustains a major third above the main pitch. Some tracks feature percussion instru­ments that play in unison.Tracks 1-11 feature music of the sambzi or "great song/dance" which was part of every major feast and included singing, drumming, and dancing. Like much Marind performance, it was comprised of several sections featuring different types of songs, which by 1962 only a few people could remember. Unison drumming on a steady beat can be heard in the first four songs. Gumi, songs of one of the two male-only cults associated with the Dema, are heard in tracks 12-17. The singing is accompanied by a steady beat played on the nakok, an idiophone in which the closed ends of two pieces of bamboo are struck against each other. The next eight tracks feature unaccompanied songs of the Imo, one of the two initiation cults. The complex rite featured a prescribed series of songs and dances (replicated in the recordings) that incorporate Dema place names and mythical references. In the final part of the ritual women were allowed to take part in the singing (tracks 24 and 25). Three gadzi songs, described as "young people's entertainment dance[s]," follow. Traditionally accompanied by drums, this secular musical style is de­scribed as the only one still active today and has assumed some of the ritual associations of the sambzi celebration music. Ayase songs follow on tracks 29-31. Formerly sung on the eve of a headhunting trip, very few people re­membered them in 1962. The melodies, originally with drum accompaniment, are distinct from earlier genres in that they alternate between two pitches approximately a major third apart. Nine rhythmically free funeral dirges known as yarut round out the 1962 recordings. The final two tracks are the 1933 wax cylinder recordings, featuring music of neighboring groups. The first track is a small ensemble singing a polyphonic song, noted as very unusual in this area, and the second is a pentatonic flute solo.
This CD features an enticing array of musical styles from a part 4 0 the world rarely represented in commercial releases, and is a testament to the painstaking efforts of IMS founders Fred Gales and Rein Spoorman. Except for the cylinder recordings, the recording quality is excellent. The beautifully produced twenty-page liner booklet, assembled from the notes and publica-

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tions of Verschueren, includes valuable contextual information about the Marind Anim, their music and culture, and the collector, and is abundantly illustrated with rare historical photos and maps. Although song texts are not provided, they are described in the notes. The IMS is to be commended for its dedication in bringing these rare recordings to the public and honoring the rich cultural legacy of the Marind people.

Mary Lawson Burke                                         Framingham State College

Reference
Knauft, Bruce M. 1993. South Coast New Guinea Cultures: History Comparison, Dialectic. Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Discography
Muo Remé: Dance of the Cassowary Anthology of Music from West Papua #1 2002. PAN Records, Leiden, KIT 4013. The Anceaux Collection 1954-1961, Royal Tropical Institute. "The Music Collection:'

 

 

Mixed-Beyond 3, 2008



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