This week in music class we become a Polynesian church choir. ‘Imene tuki is a kind of music that is unique to the Cook Islands, but bears some resemblance to church music throughout the region, which features cascading multipart harmonies and elements of pre-colonization chants, such as guttural grunts to emphasize particular parts of the music.
As Jane’s Oceania pages on the Music of the Cook Islands tells us, there are seven vocal parts in an ‘imene tuki:
— a tumu ‘imene (usually a woman soloist) who starts the singing and sets the note and tempo to be followed;
— perepere (an alternating high-pithed decorative part) – sung by one or two women in the group;
— pere na raro (a pitch below the lead) sung by one or two women;
— pere na runga (a pitch above the lead) sung by one or two women;
— reo tamou is the level at which the majority of female singers will stay;
— pere tane is a high pitch for a male voice – a difficult skill to master as it is outside the natural scale for men
— maru (harmony) is the part men perform generally.
Why not try them all?