Music Of Indonesia #19: Maluku: Halmahera, Buru, Kei

The Smithsonian Institute continues one of its most ambitious projects ever with its documentation of the music of Indonesia. Indonesia is nearly as large as Europe, with 300 different ethnic groups spread out over 3000 islands. Probably its best-known musical exports are Balinese, Javan and Sumatran gamelan. Nothing on these three volumes bears much resemblance to the massive gong orchestras of gamelan. Where there are gongs they are played in far different ways in far different scales. Volumes 18 and 19 are overviews of two vast territories: the island of Sulawesi and the province of Maluku. Like folk recordings from all over the world these volumes feature lessons in history, ritual and how to party to hard-driving drum n' gong. Volume 20 presents us with not just a document, but a concept: Indonesian guitars. There are a wonderful variety of techniques represented, from gentle picking to the twang of the amplified two-stringed kacapi. Volume 20 will probably have the greatest mass appeal due to its familiar subject, but these are all unprecedented documents of Indonesia. Any one of the 20 volumes in this series is guaranteed to introduce you to music you've never heard before. (Smithsonian Folkways)