Singing scales in the Māori Language

On May 13, 2023, in a concert with the Christchurch City Choir at the Transitional Cathedral, pianist Jeremy Woodside and I performed a solo piece for voice and piano, called ‘Kia Hora Te Marino’. A lot of people have been asking for information about the song. Hence today’s blog!

I wrote the piece for Dr. Jenny Wollerman to perform as part of her 21×21 project in the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, 2022. The background to the song are that the words are a karakia, I wrote the tune and chords for classical guitar, and, composer Dr. Glenda Keam arranged my guitar arrangement into a piano arrangement. Here is a link to information about Dr. Wollerman’s 21×21 project and her performance of all of the 21 songs of the project, including mine.

The Māori language (Te Reo), is a beautiful language for classical singers because it has five vowel sounds. In particular, it is useful for developing the head voice because of the closed o sound and the u sound. Hence, I wrote this song, based on a scale, for this purpose. The song begins with half a scale, then an entire scale and then a scale and a half. I imagine a floating sound on the final note of the piece.

I would love that singers pick up the song and sing it at competitions and concerts. Here is the first page of the piece to give you an idea of how it goes. I would also love that teachers think of adapting the song for all types of singers, not just classical, which is why I wanted to write a song that can be played on a guitar easily and uses an accessible musical language. Hopefully, the song is a fun way to sing scales and develop the head voice. Remember what Lilli Lehmann said…scales, scales, scales!

Published by Deborah Wai Kapohe

I am a classical singer and guitarist. I have created a project called 'The Lilli Lehmann Project'. The project, lasting from 2020 until 2023, aims to refresh my voice and prepare me to be a singing teacher. The scope of the project is that I am studying Lilli Lehmann's singing book, bibliography, recordings and her reviews, as well as other historical vocal pedagogy. I have chosen this platform in order to blog about my discoveries, demonstrate techniques and exercises, and perform pieces of music. I have done so because I wish to be transparent. I think that if a student is prepared to learn from me then I should stand up to public scrutiny.

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