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Tahitian Choir

Tahitian Choir

The Tahitian Choir is a choral group from the island known as Rapa Iti, one of the Bass Islands in the South Pacific, approximately 1,000 miles southeast of Tahiti. The choir is made up of 126 men and women. Their music portrays their traditional Tahitian life and dialect and has been recorded on two albums and one re-release, recordings produced by Pascal Nabet Meyer.

This caused a sensation when released in 1992 on Triloka. Its reappearance is welcomed, although not the sappy synthesizer accompaniment on the bonus track that opens the new disc. Fortunately, the remainder of the CD is solely the original acappella program. Although producer Pascal Nabet-Meyer requested the choir's oldest music, the diatonic harmonies, simple rhythms and lock-step movement on "Himene Tatou" and "Va Hiti" are strongly hymn-like.

The British "discovered" the island in 1791, with missionaries and their music inevitably following; their harmonic influence is heard more subtly in some other pieces as well. On the other hand, "Morotiri Nei," "Ratou Ki Ota," and "Tau Matamua" are amazing microtonal pieces featuring a descending portamento effect that radical avant-gardists will envy. There's also call-and-response ("Ei Reka E" and elsewhere), the nasal, pressed tone by the female voices that recalls the sound of the Bulgarian Women's Choir (not to suggest any cross-cultural influence there!), and a sort of chattering polyphony familiar from Balinese vocal music. This distinctive choral classic belongs in every international music collection.


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Tahitian Choir : Rapa Iti : 00  1 CD :  : trcd 7192

Tahitian Choir : Rapa Iti

Review: A thousand miles southeast of Tahiti lies the last piece of land before the South Pole. The island of Rapa Iti is home to 328 people of Polynesian descent. Though their church music has been influenced by Christian hymns, there is an ancient polyphonic music sung in quarter-tones kept very much alive by the whole population. That is the music chosen for this recording. It is sung by the island's 126 voice choir. Prior to this recording, the only one found by Pascal Nabet-meyer, the ethno-musicologist who did this recording, was a wax cylinder from 1906 found in the Bishop Museum in Hawaii. Though this Polynesian music is so unique it is almost impossible to describe, there are haunting similarities to an ancient unrhymical form of Hebrew Cantillation which dates back to the Temple in Jerusalem, and another early singing style called heterophony found in the Western Isles of Scotland. Is this musical continental drift, or what?

Songlist: Oparo e opare e, Morotiri nei, Himene tatou, Tarema, Ei reka e, Ratou ki ota, To vahine ororagni, Te matamua, I te fenua, Tamaki a te mau ariki, Oparo, Tevaitau, Va hiti, Tau matamua, Te parau o eri rama

9225c | 00 1 CD | $15.98 Music from the Pacific Islands

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