Songs and dances of hunting, war, work, totemistic ritual, cannibalism, myth, initiation, courtship, rain-making, funerals, magical healing, shark catching and marathon feasting, recorded in remote coastal and inland villages in five far-flung regions of Papua New Guinea, to the north of Australia. One of the world’s most mysterious countries, whose long, wide rivers are home to hundreds of different Melanesian cultures and languages. These full-throated songs with their vibrant and often complex accompanimental drumming patterns show the richness and variety of the cultural traditions and beliefs of the communities of Papua New Guinea.

“intense microtonal harmonies that are really arresting” Sing Out

Karkar Island
1  Garamut call
2  Mukoa Silali
3  Kanam Dance
Green River (West Sepik Province)
4  Birua (Warrior song after killing)
5  Healing Songs
6  Kua Kua! The Bird of Paradise Is Singing / Let us kill a pig and put the blood on our sick friends wounds
7  Women’s Sago Song
8  Healing Song about Lake Kanary
9  Healing Song
10  Feast Song
11  Three Eevil (Children’s Healing Songs)
Mount Hagen (Western Highlands)
12  Hunting Song of the Moge and Kopi clans
13  Women’s Song of the Moge and Kopi clans
14 Sing-sing, Western Highlands
15  Two Songs of Love and Courtship
16  Bayer River Sanctuary
New Ireland
17  Pur
18  Bot – malanggan funeral ceremony
19  Friction-drum and Song on the death of a Chief
20  Getting on a Lorry
21  Shark-calling Song
22  Two Slit-drum improvisations
Gazelle Peninsula (East New Britain)
23 Rongari
24  Fire Dance

Recordings, text & photographs by John Thornley