Why Tifa Is A Popular Musical Instrument In West Papua

Musical Instrument In West Papua
Sumber : Youtube

This musical instrument is popular in two provinces, Maluku and Papua (especially West Papua). As one of the most famous traditional musical instruments in Indonesia, tifa is hard to forget. You may have seen it and heard it played in some local cultural events in Indonesia.

As part of the West Papuan art, there are reasons why tifa is a popular musical instrument in West Papua.

Musical Instrument In West Papua
Sumber : Hanya Berbagi

The Origin of Tifa:

Although it is known to be a musical instrument popular in Maluku and West Papua, there is no finding on how tifa first existed. There are only historical records on how this percussion has been around since ancient times. Since both provinces are closely located from one another, they may share similar cultures. It may include their artwork and musical instruments.

How It Looks Like:

This percussion is created from wood and shaped like a tube. At first, you might mistake it as just another drum. However, the sound that tifa makes is much lighter than the usual drum. The outside of this percussion is covered with dried animal skin. Each region has its own unique carved shape on its tifa. 

This percussion is commonly played in public performances, like traditional ceremonies or events, traditional dances, and musical performances.

The Differences Between Tifa In Maluku with Tifa In Papua:

Although these traditional percussions may look similar from the outside, you can tell the differences once you look much closer.

  • Tifa In Maluku.

This traditional percussion looks like an ordinary tube with no handles.

  • Tifa In West Papua.

This traditional percussion is more curved. It has a handle right in the middle.


The Types of Tifa:

You cannot play just one tifa to make wholesome music. There are four (4) types of it that can make a union on a stage performance:

  • Tifa jekir.
  • Tifa chop.
  • Tifa basic.
  • Tifa bass.

Each tifa makes its unique sounds. When played together, you can hear the harmonious and rhythmic thumps of the whole union. In a way, this is just like playing angklung (a batch of traditional musical instruments from West Java). You cannot just play one solo because it only contains one note.

When it comes to playing tifa, playing one type only produces one sound of a thump. However, when you combine it with other types of tifa (as mentioned above) or even other musical instruments, you will hear a different sound group – with a completely different vibe it gives.

How To Play It:

It depends on the types of tifa being played. Some need a percussion, while others only need your hand to thump. The key is the adjustment according to the type. For example: if the tifa is played with other musical instruments, it becomes the main voice and regulates the rhythm. If played with other types of tifa, the adjustment must be different to produce a good, pleasant-to-hear rhythm.

The Musical Development of Tifa:

The good news is, this musical instrument is still being preserved. That is why we can still see tifa to this day. Since many people in Maluku and West Papua still hold their traditional cultures, this musical instrument is still needed to carry out traditional ceremonies or events, traditional dances, and musical performances.

As part of Indonesia’s cultural preservation, playing traditional musical instruments in world music is very important. In international music concerts and festivals, many countries do that to introduce their cultures’ uniqueness. It is the same thing that Indonesia can do, especially when introducing traditional musical instruments like tifa.

Listening to traditional musical performances using tifa will give you a different but hypnotic experience. Whether it is from Maluku or West Papua, it will remind you just how rich the cultures in Indonesia are.