AUTHENTIC MAORI CHANT
To avoid any appearance of commercialising the songs. Mr McLean has declined to accept payment for his work in preparing this series.
much has been said in previous articles of the additive rhythms in many Maori chants. It is these rhythms which help make the chants so very much alive musically. To the western ear they sound like syncopations over an unchanging beat, but really they are a series of time changes.
What hasn't been stressed to date is that these time changes are often systematic. That is to say, they form a regular pattern which repeats over and over again. This was true of ‘Ka eke ki Wairaka’ with its four regular bars of 7/8 time to each line of the melody, and it was true of ‘Pinepine te kura’ with its two bars of 5/4 time to each line. The patupaiarehe song in this issue also has regular time changes, though the situation is a little more complex than in the songs just mentioned.
The time is 11 + 11 + 7 quavers for each repetition of the melody, made up of (7 + 4) + (8 + 3) + 7 quavers. This sounds difficult, but it isn't really if one remembers that this song has two ‘drag’ figures to act as markers along the way. These drags are distinguished by slurs in the transcription. The first drag figure is an even 8 quavers long. The second (at the end of the line) is exactly the same as the first, except that a quaver is dropped from the end to make it the ‘odd’ number of 7 quavers long. It is natural to sing the first drag for an even number of beats because it is preceded by an even bar of 4 quavers. And
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it is equally natural to sing the second drag with one quaver short because the preceding bar is this time 3 quavers long and is therefore also a quaver short.
Knowing this may be a help to some readers in learning the song, but it is not essential. The only way to become really sure of a song is to practise it with careful attention to time values until it becomes part of oneself. When this happens, counting is not only unnecessary but could even be a hindrance. As someone has said, if a centipede had to think which leg went before which, it would probably fall over!
Another point which intending singers should know is that even in western music, singers make small changes here and there which are not really part of the song. Sometimes these changes are intentional and sometimes they are not. Some musicians think that when a song is written down from a performance, all these slight changes should be included. If the singer pauses to cough, for instance, this pause should get written down too. Others think that only the essential things should be noted. A lot depends, of course, on the purpose for which the transcription is to be used. If it is to be used for teaching, there is not much point in writing down coughs and other things which the singer did not really intend. On the other hand, if there is doubt about the singer's intentions or if the song is performed in different ways by different people, everything should be noted.
In Maori chant it is the drag figures which are most subject to change. Different singers tend to have their own drags, and sometimes a singer may alter a drag slighlty during the course of a song. A few singers use ornament seemingly at random during the drags. To make things easier for the reader the drags in the present transcription have been made the same at each repetition, although the grace notes didn't always come quite at the same places in the recording. These changes were in fact so minute that many people would be quite unable to hear them, so including them would certainly not be worthwhile
for the person who wants to learn the song. It should be noted that the time of the grace notes is taken from the notes to which they are tied. The zigzag line in the first drag indicates a portamento.
The song is a variant of the turehu song which appears as song 38 in Part One of ‘Nga Moteatea’ edited by Apirana Ngata and Pei Te Hurinui. The text also appears in John McGregor's ‘Popular Maori Songs’ (1893) P 43 and in the ‘Journal of the Polynesian Society vol. 3 p 31. The recording from which the transcription was made was recorded for the writer on 10 February 1963 at Makara by Kore Crown (leader) and her daughter Rina Tuwhangai. These singers belong to Ngati Hounuku and Ngati Horotakere tribes of Waikato. The song has also been recorded by Whati Tamati (Waikato tribe) of Hamilton and in its ‘Nga Moteatea’ form by Sam Huia (Waikato tribe) of Makomako.
A Fairy's Love Song
Mr Mervyn McLean's transcription and discussion of the music of this song is published above.
Two main versions of the song are in existence. One is song No. 38 in Apirana Ngata's Nga Moteatea, and the other is quoted by Hoani Nahe in the ‘Journal of the Polynesian Society’ vol. 3, p 31. The text published here is closer to the latter version, though not identical with it.
Hoani Nahe tells us that the version he records is ‘the love-song of Whanawhana and Rangipouri, chiefs of the iwi atua, or Fairies…the chief of the Patupaiarehe [fairies] ardently desired Tawhaitu, who was the wife of Ruarangi, ancestor of the Ruarangi hapu of Ngati Haua’. In the Ngapuhi version and explanation recorded by Ngata, the fairy chief Te Rangipouri loves Ripiroaiti, wife of Ruarangi, who came in Kupe's canoe. Ngata's version has Taputeururoa as the fairy man's first wife, whereas in Hoani Nahe's version and explanation, Taputeruru and Ripiroaiti, also Nukupori and Tuku (in this version, Tiki) are the names of fairy chiefs.
The translation given here is therefore somewhat conjectural. It follows Ngata's version in interpreting ‘whanawhana’ as meaning ‘joyful’, but since the version published here, like that of Hoani Nahe, has ‘ko’ instead of ‘ka’ before this word, it should perhaps be regarded as a proper name. Similarly, ‘tawhaitu’ might be better interpreted as the name of the woman in question.
The word ‘maori’ is used in the song in the sense of ‘human’.
Since she is the first human woman whom the fairies have encountered, she is described as ‘the first of her race’.
Kāore te rangi nei te pēhi whakarunga
I torona e au te tau o Tīreni
Whakatata rawa mai ka murimuri aroha
Kei Pirongia rā ko te iwi tauwehe
E wāhi rua ana ko Tiki, ko Nukupori
Ko Tapu-te-uru rā ko Ripiroaiti
Ko whanawhana ko au, ko Te Rangipōuri
Ka tango mai he wahine tuatahi tonu au
Nāku i tū atu, kia uru tomokia
Te whare o Ruarangi kia tawhaitu
Kia whakapakia ki te kiri māori
Ka tākohua mai te ripa ki Puāwhe
He ripa tau-ārai ki te makau i te ao, i.
The harsh winds blow upon the uplands.
Once I held my loved one of Tireni.
Now my heart is filled with sorrow.
At Pirongia are the people from whom I am
Tiki and Nukupouri are parted,
Taputeuru and Ripiroaiti.
I, Te Rangipouri would be most joyful
At possessing her, the first of her race.
Indeed I dared all dangers when I boldly
The house of Ruarangi, to caress her human
Covered in mist is the ridge at Puawhe,
The barrier that hides my loved one from the