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No. 49 (November 1964)
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TRANSCRIPTIONS OF
AUTHENTIC MAORI CHANT part two

To avoid any appearance of commercialising the songs, Mr McLean has declined to accept payment for his work in preparing this series.

the song selected for transcription in this issue is the Ngati Kahungunu oriori (or lullaby) ‘Pinepine te kura’.

This oriori is an extraordinary and beautiful example of rhythmic organisation of a high order, with melody in a subordinate role. It will well repay close study by the reader

Except in the leader sections and at the end of each repetition of the basic melody, the chant is intoned generally on one note only.

During the first two lines the metre is not properly established but after this, each repetition of the basic melody consists of two quite straightforward bars or phrases of 5/4 time. The end of the first 5/4 bar is marked throughout by two repeated crotchets: and the second 5/4 bar throughout contains the cadential or ‘drag’ figure:

Here, the descent to D and the slurred quavers E — D mark the end of each repetition of the basic melody. Except for this terminal melisma the song is syllabic—i.e. one note per syllable—all the way through.

At times, extra beats are added to accommodate words which cannot easily be sung within the ten beats of the two 5/4 bars. These added beats are nearly always inserted between the two 5/4 bars. That is to say, first come the two marker crotchets at the end of the first 5/4 bar, then come the added beats, then the five beats of the second 5/4 bar. Except in the first two lines, an attempt has been made to indicate added beats by enclosing them in brackets. Usually, their rhythms are simple repetitions of the preceding pattern.

It can be seen that the two crotchets which mark the end of the first 5/4 bar of each repetition and the ‘drag’ figure which marks the end of the second, can be used by the singer as reference or orientation points. Between them they provide unity and stability. Variety is introduced by the very flexible rhythmic patterns which characterize the rest of the song.

This song, except for its somewhat unusual length, is perhaps easier than most to learn, but the reader will find that taking part in a performance—even singing with the record—can be an exhilarating experience.

In the transcription, the first two repetitions of the basic melody occupy one line of manuscript each, and thereafter there are two repetitions to each line of manuscript. The end of each repetition is indicated by a solid bar line and the midpoint is shown either by notes within brackets or by a dotted barline.

Like the songs whose music was printed in the last issue, the text of ‘Pinepine te Kura’ has been several times published. The version here transcribed is Side 2 of Kiwi record EC— 8 45 E.P. (A. H. & A. W. Reed, 182 Wakefield Street, Wellington) and was recorded by the Maori Purposes Fund Board. It is sung by a Ngati Porou party but the name of the leader and the date and place of recording are unfortunately not given. The text and explanation in Maori are given in a leaflet with the record and will be found with English translation as Song No. 215 in ‘Nga Moteatea’ part three, edited by Apirana Ngata and Pei te Hurinui, which is due for publication soon. The song has also been published in John McGregor's ‘Popular Maori Songs’ (1893) pp. 9 and 11, and can be found in variant form in Elsdon Best's ‘Tuhoe’ Vol. 1 (1925) p. 599, and James Cowan's ‘The Maori Yesterday and Today’ (1930) p. 106.

In the transcription, conventional notation has been used with the following additional signs:

(-) = Approximately quarter tone flat

= Portamento

= Terminal glissando.

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N.M.215 ‘Pinepine Te Kura’ As sung on Kiwi recording EC-8 Side 2

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A translation of this song appears on page 20.