AUTHENTIC MAORI CHANT
To avoid any appearance of commercialising the songs, Dr McLean has declined to accept payment for his work in preparing this series.
The song transcribed in this issue belongs to a song type less well known that most others, called maimai (sometimes maemae).
This type of song is a haka or ngeri for the dead and is still performed at tangi ceremonies.
In Taranaki, a different type of maimai is traditionally sung while the singers, waving pieces of greenery, precede the corpse. This form of maimai is not recited like a ngeri but is sung in a manner reminiscent of a slowed-down poi. Elsewhere, the maimai is performed in the same way as the ngeri, in recited style with footstamping and haka actions.
The maimai transcribed in this issue is a very well known one which has been recorded by the writer from Pei Te Hurinui, who also supplied the text (Item 101) Turau and Marata Te Tomo (Items 134 and 423) and Hakopa Mohi Moke (Items 793–794). It also appears on Folkways L.P. recording F E 4433, Side 2, Band 1. In the Folkways recording the verses are sung in a different order (2, 4, 3, 1) and the verse beginning katahuri is slightly variant. Otherwise the versions listed above are virtually identical.
Since the song is a recited one, pitch variations in the transcription have shown in a general way only, by means of arrows.
Rhythmically, the song is full of interest and can be taken as typical of the haka or ngeri. Unlike most of the songs earlier transcribed, haka metres are not additive, but divisive like those of western music. Undoubtedly this happens because the haka is a dance form with regular footstamping which imposes its beat upon the music. In musical terms, haka can be said to be in compound time with beats in groups of three throughout and a footstamp on the first beat of every three. Additive rhythms are sometimes introduced, but they have the effect of syncopation since the underlying pulse (>) of the footstamping is not disturbed.
Examples in the maimai transcribed are:
Another good example is the following excerpt from the Wairangi Haka in Part One:
A comparison of the two songs in fact shows many similarities. In particular, there is a great fondness for inverted rhythms such as:
These occur more than five times as frequently as their uninverted counterparts, and together with the syncopations earlier mentioned, are largely responsible for the great musical vitality of these songs.
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