Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Polynesian Mythology and Ancient Traditional History of the New Zealand Race



We must not suppose that the Greek enharmonic was a consecutive gamut of quarter-tones—no; we are told distinctly by all authors (except, perhaps Salinas), that there was a quarter-tone, then another quarter-tone, then a great interval completing the fourth; or reversely, a great interval of two major tones, or about our third major, the quarter-tone, another quarter-tone, thus completing the fourth.

So with these nations, and especially in the Chinese airs I have heard, there is either the two quarter-tones, then an interval of about a third; or, the interval of the third, and then the two dieses or quarter-tones, or it is a mixed genus, and adds a tone or half-tone at either extreme.

I here beg to state that, though with great care and the assistance of a graduated monochord, and an instrument divided like the intervals of the Chinese kin, I have endeavoured to give an idea of those airs of New Zealand which I have heard, yet so difficult to discover the exact interval, that I will not vouch for the mathematical exactness: neither will I pledge myself not to have written a chromatic for an enharmonic interval, or vice versâ.

I must also, in justice to myself, add, that the singer did not always repeat the musical phrase with precisely the same modulation, though, without a very severe test, this would not have been page 236 discernible, nor then to many ears; the general effect being to an European ear very monotonous.

But I may say that, when I sang them from my notation, they were recognised and approved of by competent judges; and that the New Zealander himself said, “he should soon make a singer of me.”

I may also add that I have studied the subject for more than twenty years, and have read something out of almost every book of note that has been written on it; but yet I only offer these airs as an approximation, and if any one shall be found who may do more justice to them, I shall be delighted to hear of the result.