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No. 51 (June 1965)
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TRANSCRIPTIONS OF
AUTHENTIC MAORI CHANT part four

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

Except for the haka in part one, all of the songs that have so far appeared in this series have been of the sung type of chant. The patere in this issue is representative of the recited forms.

Unlike the haka, which is shouted, the patere is intoned. It differs from the sung forms, however, in having no definite scale of notes. This is not to say that pitch organisation is unimportant. A gradual rise of pitch followed by a fall occurs near the end of each verse and is not only characteristic of the patere but is considered by performers to be part of the song. The extent of the rise and subsequent fall seems not to matter however, and it differs from one rendition to the next. Moreover it is a continuous ascent or descent, quite without the definite steps that would be present if the notes could be arranged in scale form. Since there is no scale, pitch changes have been shown in the transcription by means of arrows.

Other differences from the sung forms of chant are the rapid tempo, the through-composed form, the completely syllabic style of singing, and the characteristic essentially duple rhythms.

In the chant transcribed, the rhythmic groups A, B and C in Fig. 1 appear many times, the dotted group D appears less often, and E occurs very occasionally. As with all Maori song types however, these divisive rhythms are often modified so as to become additive. By the addition of extra semiquavers the four unit rhymthic groups in Fig. 1 can be extended to five, six, seven or even eight units, A as in Fig. 2, B as in Fig. 3, C as in Fig. 4 and D as in Fig. 5. Similarly, semiquavers can be dropped so that groups of four units become three, as in Fig. 6.

Other modifications are theoretically possible but are not used in the song transcribed.

Of very great interest is the tendency for an odd grouping to be followed by another odd grouping such that the two together form a multiple of the basic four semiquaver unit. This would come about quite naturally as a result of beating time. For example:

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Fig. 1

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Fig. 2

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Fig. 3.

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Fig. 4.

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Fig. 5.

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Fig. 6.

where < indicates the beat. Used in this way, additive rhythms become true syncopation.

Other examples are:

The version of the patere transcribed in this

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issue was recorded by the writer on 18 September 1962 at the home of Hiri and Maata Mariu, Turangi. It was sung by Makarena Mariu (leader) supported by Hiri and Maata Mariu. These singers all belong to Ngati Tuwharetoa tribe. The text, translation and full story of the song are on pp 134–146 of Pei Te Hurinui's ‘King Potatau’, Polynesian Society, 1959.