The Music of Biak, West Papua

The Music of Biak, West Papua

Music of Biak or wor songs is the title of the album which presents music for celebrations and church services on Biak Island in Irian Jaya. Wor songs, usually sung by choruses in seemingly hectic, free-for-all style, were once central to traditional Biak society which once used to appease spirits and prepare warriors for battle. With repetitive rhythm and rusty, wavering voices, many of these selections recall Native American music.

These south seas swing with lively drumming and prominent basslines set Biak cultural content to Western harmonies.

Wor songs reflect the Biak people in the past who were ironsmiths, merchants, vassals, ruthless fighters, hunters, farmers, fishermen, and pirates. Besides, the beautiful and inhospitable island of Biak which lies off the north coast of West Papua with the massive eastern island shares with Papua New Guinea. Biak saw a lot of action during World War II but held out to be the last territory to join Indonesia in 1969.

Today, the intensely multiethnic island of Biak produces pilots, scholars, and soccer stars, but traditional ways remain strong in the villages.

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