from notes archived at Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawai'i
Maka = song; hani maka is a song for men and women
Viki = humorous or light song. Type sung at weddings to amuse the crowds.
Temo = song for chiefs; also called kau temo
Foru = song that contains a story
Hiku = song that is sung with a woman's game
Mamäe = singing or wailing at deaths
Each district has its songs and dances, which are usually combined. In a contest between districts of the two parts of the island, each one can use the songs of its own half of the island. If one group sings a song from the opposing side or its half of the island, this group is considered defeated because it has no more songs of its own and is laughed down.
Often these singing contests are held in a play house where kava is drunk in the middle of the night. The kava is brought to the door where one announces it by saying "manu'", and inside the host's mafua gives a fakpej.
fakpej = a ceremonial speech made over kava
A series of three slow songs is called a sua, and the fourth or quick time song is called a tiape. The group of four is called a'hae'a. After a'hae'a, the opposing group sings a group of songs.
Certain words or phrases signify the proper hand motions and gestures to make in the dance.
Before a band of men started into battle they had a meeting about the method of attack and then sang their ki to work up their fighting spirit. In Tua'koi this was begun by the taki.
The ki, or song and war dance, is held before a battle. It is sung by the warriors to encourage them to fight, and also seems to have some supplication to the spirits. When two armies meet for battle there is a dance (probably taunting and attempting to look fearful) and then they sing a song called the arfaki.
Tanifa is the shark with a big mouth; tehu = near; kelega = a point off Itu'ti'u where a big shark can be seen; jiji = come; poa = bait. 'a lele'a = cannibals, or to eat people.
This song means that the warriors are like a shark and they are going to fight the other people, whom they will not spare as a shark will not spare them. They will kill like a shark because of the poa, or bait, which means some ancient cause for which they fight.
After this song the armies sing their ki. For Itutiu the ki is as follows:
The men all gather together in a huddle with their heads down and start singing. When they come to the word pakora, they all jump into the air and slap their sides and stamp the ground in unison, and at the word hitua they start off marching behind the taki. Hitua hi is sung with a certain strong rhythm.
The dancers sit in rows, usually four, one district or party at one end of the house and the others facing them at the opposite end. They sit, and after the song has been started they rise to dance. The dances are usually in the position of the rows. There are no circular dances in the houses.
The song is started by the leader or purotu (see name in Tongan) and the rest join in. He is seated behind the rows, at the mat drum. This is a folded mat which is nearly two feet in thickness and in the shape of a block. Six men or women sit around this and beat the time of the dancing. The leader chooses the song he likes and then all join in as they catch the first line. There are usually three slow songs and then one fast.
At the end of each set, or perhaps at the end of each song, the front line (called taki) goes to the rear and the next row has the front line position, so that everyone has a turn in singing and dancing before the other side. The song is ended in much the same fashion as Samoan and some Fijian singing with the dying groan and two sharp claps.
The tare bird dance is about a bird that sleeps on one foot, and when awakened it starts with a kick to its free foot. This is imitated in the dance.
This was held in the school house by the Hapmafau people and those of Motusa. At noon they had a feast on the grass, given by the Motusa people. About 2:30 p.m. the Hapmafau dancers gathered in the east end of the house. At the end were the drummers, seated about a mat draped over a roll of others, on which they beat the time. Men and women drummed.
The dancers sat in five lines across the end of the house, the women on the north side, the men on the south. A line was composed of 5 men and 5 women. They sang 3 slow songs and 1 fast one. At intervals, usually after they had finished and it was Motusa's turn, the front line went to the rear. This gave each line a chance to sing in the front line.
The men and women all wore ti leaf skirts and garlands about their necks. The skirts were decorated around the waist line with flowers.
When they had finished a series of songs, the Motusa singers took their places at the other end of the house, with the women sitting on the men's right side. After a series by Motusa, the Hapmafau people would start again. The dancers did not sit through their opponents' singing, but their places were taken by onlookers.
This dancing is called tautoga and when done by both men and women tautoga hafa.
When the Hapmafau dancers squatted in the middle of a song they faced to the left and knelt on one knee.
No one wore paint.
This dance is also done by men alone and women alone.
The young people formerly did and still do somewhat, have dances on the beach. They were very sensual, in which they would conclude by showing their parts (in particular the girls who would dash off into the bush to be chased by some desirous young buck).
Upon direct questioning, Katalina said the Rotumans formerly had a nose flute, fogfog, and a panpipe, 'efu.
The temo are old chants in praise of the dead or even living chiefs and places. They sometimes recount great deeds of illustrious men, but their common use is to eulogize the deceased at his funeral.
At such a time the old men gather inside the house, sit closely together, and chant in very low tones, their old songs. On the death of a chief of note or man of great favor in the district, a new temo will be composed to be sung at his funeral. In the evenings, old men of a village meet in a house and sing these old songs. A young girl will walk among them annointing each man with a little scented coconut oil.
The song leader is called the purotu. He sits with three others who face each other, and around them crowd all the other singers. The purotu chooses each temo and starts it. Temos are sung in groups of four, the first three are very slow and dreary the fourth is sung brightly and quickly, while the hands are clapped in double time. The fourth song is called a tipo. The leader commences his temo, sings the first line, and the chorus of men join him on the refrain of one line, which follows each line of verse.
This chanted refrain is the asura. The songleader goes on to the next verse which he sings alone while the chorus hums or drones the last note of the refrain through one half of the verse that the leader is singing, and then change to a note two tones above. This change was heard in most of the temos that were sung for me. It was made to effect harmony. The tones varied accordingly.
The droning is an accompaniment without losing the note for a break in taking a breath. However in some songs, the accompaniment comes in on each accented note of the verse. Thus in the line "Ká hanuá on a 'úmutaonót" the ka, a, u, not are the accented syllables, which the chorus accent while humming. In this particular song the note of the chorus was an octave below the note of the leader.
The melody of the verse is usually limited to three or four notes of half tones or minors. Some notes are slid or wailed, giving an effect which strongly resembles the Japanese manner of singing. A note is slid a half tone down and then back again before it is left. The singing sounds very nasal and slow. The chants are ended by sliding the last note down almost to a speaking tone with diminishing volume, with a "running down" effect. This is also a Samoan fashion of singing, but the Rotumans do not make it so exaggerated. Repeating the first line of the chant is a signal to the chorus that the leader has finished. In the chants that were sung for me one evening, three tempos could be observed. In the first tempo the hands were clapped on the first beat of every measure, in four beat time.
In another tempo, the group clapped their hands on the first and third beat, while one man alone clapped his hands on the second and fourth beats.
The third tempo might be called a "time round". The chant was sung in three beat time, and each beat of a measure was marked by a different group of the singers. The first beat was clapped by one group and as the chant got under way, a second and third group took up the second and third beats. The accent was on the first beat, and the clapping suggested the words clickety, clickety, clickety. This was fast song or tipo. The remainder of the tipos that were sung that evening were all in fast four beat time.
Not all the chants had refrains. In the text, the refrain where it exists is marked in the last line. In the singing, each vowel is carefully pronounced, although they may be elided or dropped in the spoken language. However, the singing is very low, so low that one feels that those outside the circle are not supposed to hear or understand the words. The clapping too is very soft. The best chanting of temos "resembles the singing of toothless old men".