MUSIC AND ME


I haven't posted about any new music in a while as I've been focusing on my doctoral studies but yes this is the latest composition that has been recorded and released as part of my cousin Sammy Atoa's EP "Reminiscing".  The EP contains his cover versions of his favourite Samoan tracks that remind him of his childhood listening to the songs played by his grandparents.  As well as these classics, there are a few original tracks - of which two are English songs written by Sam, one about his wife and another as a tribute to his late father, my uncle Pita who served as a church minister in his lifetime.  

This song was written when I was in Samoa a few years ago, with the melody and lyrics written without instrumental accompaniment until I was able to get to a piano to score it in my mind.  I gave the song to Sam to record as what's the point of writing music if you don't put it out there right?  
I hope you enjoy!  If you'd like to purchase Sammy's album, you can get in touch with him through his YouTube channel (click on the heading above).  I've translated the words into English as this song is the only Samoan song on the EP.  Sammy Atoa is currently in Samoa launching the album there.  It's already been featured on Samoan radio stations and tv channels.  

I le taimi muamua sa ou vaaia i ou foliga The first time that I saw your face
Ou foliga 'ataata ma le tausaafia, e matagofie lava Your smiling face full of joy, it was so beautiful
Ou te tautino atu, pei ona ou fai atu, leai seisi e talaatu I promise you, like I said, noone else comes close
Sau loa ta eva, ua fai foi sina leva, soia le faapena Come let's spend time together, it's been a while, don't be that way

Sau ia suga, 'aua e te tuua a'u Come on baby/girl, don't leave me
Ua na o oe i lo'u fatu You are the only one in my heart
Ua na o oe i o'u manatu You are the only one in my thoughts
Sau ia suga, 'aua e te tuua a'u Come on baby/girl, don't leave me
Ua na o oe i lo'u fatu You are the only one in my heart
Ua na o oe i o'u manatu You are the only one in my thoughts



Ua ou iloa lo'u sese, ma lo'u faatalale i le faiga o oe I know I was wrong, with my callous treatment of you
Sa ou faamuamua le pia ma le mimita, ma lo'u fiatagata I put my drinking, showing off and arrogrance first
Tele taimi faigata sa feagai ma ta'ua ae tumau pea lava We have been through plenty of hard times, but you remained
Sa ou manatu vaivai e te toe fo'i mai, ae lea ua leai I mistakenly thought that you would come back, but no

Sau ia suga, 'aua e te tuua a'u Come on baby/girl, don't leave me
Ua na o oe i lo'u fatu You are the only one in my heart
Ua na o oe i o'u manatu You are the only one in my thoughts
Sau ia suga, 'aua e te tuua a'u Come on baby/girl, don't leave me
Ua na o oe i lo'u fatu You are the only one in my heart
Ua na o oe i o'u manatu You are the only one in my thoughts

Original rap written by Moni
Le a le mea ua sola ai? Why have you run away?
Tele ou tala ma mea leaga ua fai mai You've said and done all of these bad things to me
Te ofo le alofa na faatinoina I'm surprised because I've shown you love
Mea uma mo oe, ae ua lē taliaina Everything for you, but you have not accepted
Le mafutaga na faavae e le Atua This relationship that was founded on God
O lea ua e alu ua e fulitua mai Now you have gone you've left 
Faitalia oe, alu i ai Up to you, do what you like
A o le mea ua tupu, talitonu mai Whatever happens, believe this
Na o le Atua na te silafia mea uma Only God knows everything
Atonu o iai seisi aso toe faatasi ai ta'ua Maybe one day we will be together again

Tune in next time for more music and me :-)
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SAMOA SAUNI MAI VIIGA - The final song (from "Samoa mo Samoa")

Here is the third and final song that I composed for the play.

This was the easiest song for me to write.
Actually, that's a lie - because the first song I wrote for the play, I wrote that on the spot at the rehearsal venue when I was asked to teach a song.  Call it divine intervention, I call it thinking on my feet!

I really wanted this song to be an anthem.  I wanted it to be the closing number of the play that really served as a way to conclude the story and bring peace to all who listened to it - an ambitious thing to go for, but I was very keen to ensure that the story of the Mau movement would be served well through the original music that would be portrayed within the story.

The text is taken from a traditional Samoan hymn and is only a few lines from Hymn 353 - which most Samoans would know as the Tama Samoa song that might be sung to end traditional events such as funerals, weddings and birthdays to bring the event to a natural conclusion.  This is probably why I gravitated towards the song text in this hymn, as I wanted this song to serve the same purpose and be portrayed in this manner.

The melody is sung by the character of Ala, while the other characters sing the other voiceparts.
This video clip shows Nastassia Wolfgramm (Ala) flanked by her fellow actors from left to right: Valentino Maliko (Matā'afa), Samson Chan-Boon (Tamasese), KC Throne-Myers (NZ officer Harriman), Kopano Simanu (Solomone), Hans Masoe (Lauaki), Henry Cheng (Quan Li) and Adam Samu (Nelson).  



Samoa sauni mai viiga Samoans prepare to praise
Faafetai (faafetai) faafetai (faafetai) Thank you (thank you) thank you (thank you)
Faafetai lo tatou nu'u ia talosia Thanks for our nation that we pray for
Lo tatou nu'u ia manuia For our nation to be blessed

Samoa sauni mai viiga Samoans prepare to praise
Faafetai (faafetai) faafetai (faafetai)
Faafetai lo tatou nu'u ia talosia Thanks for our nation that we pray for
Lo tatou nu'u ia manuia For our nation to be blessed

Faafetai lo tatou nu'u ia talosia Thanks for our nation that we pray for
Lo tatou nu'u ia manuia For our nation to be blessed

Samoa mo Samoa . . . Samoa for Samoa
(Samoa mo Samoa) Samoa for Samoa

Tune in next time for more music and me :-)
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ALA'S MONTAGE - The second song (from "Samoa mo Samoa")

Here is the second song that I composed for the play.


The purpose of this song was to act the way that a montage does in a film - to quickly show what the characters are doing in various scenes for the duration of a song.  This technique was effective in providing the audience with information about the story that didn't rely on dialogue between the actors.  It was also a great way to explore Ala's perspective that was not recorded historically in the documents.  

We imagine here what Ala must have felt when she realises that her husband is destined to act in the best interests of his countrymen, knowing that it is extremely dangerous considering the climate at the time with the tension between the Mau Movement and the New Zealand Administration.

The video is the not the representation of the song that was performed in the actual play, but this is the only recorded performance by the actors of the song.  In the original performances over the season, Ala sings this as a solo but accompanied by acoustic guitar, moving through the cast of characters that she sings about before being joined by two Mau supporters who perform dance movements in the chorus.

Singing about Tamasese:
Standing by you, straying in your shadows
Believing in your strength and faith in man

Singing about the traitor:
Choices made that alters one's future
The destiny of many in stony hands

Singing about Olaf:
Sacrificing brothers to a noble cause
Consequences paid for unjustified laws

Singing about the NZ soldiers:
Following orders to fulfill a decree
Failing to see our people's humanity

Chorus - a call to Samoa's people:
This is our destiny, time to rise
Live our destiny, we can no longer deny
This opportunity, to be the nation that we know
That lives inside of us, the greatest story foretold

This is our destiny, time to rise
Live our destiny, we can no longer deny 
So step forth and lead, to show the world we belong
But you must leave me. . . and our family. . . 
To live our destiny. . . 

The singers are Valentino Maliko and Nastassia Wolfgramm.
Adam Samu, who played Olaf Nelson enters the frame at 41s.  KC Throne-Myers enters the frame saluting at 2:47.  He played one of the New Zealand soliders in the play.  

Tune in next time for more music and me :-)
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SAMOA MO SAMOA - The first song (also called Samoa mo Samoa)

As promised - here is the first song that I composed for the play.
The concept behind this opening song of the play "Samoa mo Samoa" is a call to Samoa and her countrymen.  The first scene of the play focused on Namulau'ulu Lauaki's speech about the changes that Samoa would face, the need for independence and self-governance.

I tried to encapsulate the more traditional way of Samoan singing where the lead melody is normally extended with the use of long drone like tones in a call and response manner.  The tempo was meant to reflect the slow pace of the people slowly gathering together.  The tempo change and the full singing represents the harmony of the people singing together as one - with the hopes of independence and self-governance.  The trailing off on the last note at the end of the song was a common way to finish songs, with the dropping of the tone.  

The recording below is an informal one taken shortly after the cast dinner to thank them for their work.  The featured performers from left to right are Adam Samu, Valentino Maliko and Nastassia Wolfgramm.  Maliko and Wolfgramm's most recent work has been at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival performing in the Pacific Island musical "The Factory".  

The full Samoan cast sang this song - there are four other actors missing in this recording.  
The actors who portrayed the New Zealanders were not featured in this song as the intent was to focus on the Samoans who would fight to reclaim Samoa as her own.  I will include a more formal recording of this piece in a future blog post.  




Samoa mo Samoa (tula'i mai, tula'i mai)  Samoa for Samoa (arise, arise)
Samoa mo Samoa (o mai, o mai, o mai)  Samoa for Samoa (come, come, come)
Samoa mo Samoa (tula'i mai, tula'i mai)  Samoa for Samoa (arise, arise)
Samoa mo Samoa (o mai, o mai, o mai)  Samoa for Samoa (come, come, come)

Samoa mo Samoa tulai mai, tulai mai  Samoa for Samoa arise, arise
Samoa mo Samoa o mai, o mai, o mai.........  Samoa for Samoa come, come, come..........

Tune in next time for more music and me :-)
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SAMOA MO SAMOA 

In 2011 I had the privilege of writing some original music for the play about the Mau Movement in Samoa.  The play was called Samoa mo Samoa.  You can read the theatre review here

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I wrote three pieces of music for this play written by Jeanie Tualima, original concept by Obed Unasa, directed by Edward Peni, Stage manager extraordinaire Monique van der Kolk who did everything else as well!  

The final performance review is also worth checking out.  Click here



Tune in next time when I profile the music :-)
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ALIVE INSIDE documentary

I really enjoyed watching this short excerpt from the documentary.
It made me think about the power of music in my life.

The doctor talks about the philosopher Kant saying that music is a quickening art.
We see evidence of the patient Henry being 'quickened' thanks to the power of music.

When Henry is asked 'What does music do to you?"
He replies, "It gives me the feeling of love, romance! I figure right now the world needs to come into music, singing, you've got beautiful music here, beautiful, lovely.  I feel a band of love, dreams. . . "

I hope that I will always feel that 'quickening' every time I hear music.
I hope that you will always have that feeling too.
That band of love and dreams that Henry talks about :-)


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I wanted to share a performance from the school choir at the last high school where I taught.
The thing that amazes me is that the majority of the students in the choir are not Samoan, yet they sang a Samoan song (they must've had a really demanding choir director haha).  

In this performance of Ia Pepese Aleluia (let us sing Hallelujah) I wanted to set the popular text to music that I thought was different and contrasted with what has normally been associated with this hymn.  The song lyrics speak about giving thanks to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.  

The lyrics are as follows:

V1.  Faafetai i le Atua                 
Le na tatou tupu ai                      
Ina ua na alofa fua
Ia te i tatou uma nei

Chorus:
Ia pepese (Aleluia)
Ia pepese (Aleluia)
Ia pepese (Aleluia)
Ia pepese (Aleluia)
Ia pepese Aleluia

V2. Faafetai i Lona Alo
Le na afio mai luga
Le ua fai ma faapaolo 
Ai le puapuaga

V3. Faafetai i le Agaga
Le fesoasoani mai
E manuia ai talosaga
Atoa uma mea e fai


 



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When I feel inspired, I will write music.

I have an interest in writing choral music, choral arrangements, piano pieces, songs with lyrics in various styles - pop, r'n'b, reggae, gospel.  
When I was teaching music, it was difficult to write music as the creative energy was spent being poured and invested into developing the musical skills of students. 
I didn't regret it - but I think it's definitely a challenge that performing arts and visual arts teachers face - finding the time to create their own masterpieces while they help to shape and mould future artists in front of their eyes.

One day I will pluck up the courage to include videos of my own music here.
I haven't had the time to rehearse as much as I would like - to the standard that I have been accustomed to as a teenager and young adult.  I guess you could say, I have channelled my energy into other aspects that still involve music - writing about music as opposed to writing it - but it doesn't mean I love music any less.

At times I have struggled to reconcile the fact that people saw me as the pianist, the musician, the singer (and I use that last term lightly - I never rated myself as a singer but people thought I could hold a tune lol), but that also comes down to also not pursuing a career as a musician, arranger or composer.  I felt a deeper sense of satisfaction - passing on knowledge and watching others take flight.

When I feel inspired, I will write music.
When I teach others to write music, they inspire me.

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We've been together for a such a long time now
Music, music and me

Probably one of the most soothing and relaxing experiences for me is playing this instrument right here.
This picture was taken 4 years ago :-)

Music has been an integral part of my life from a very early age.
I was fascinated with music, having grown up in a musical household, a staunch church-going family (that still goes to church) and sacred music played a large part in my understanding of religion, worship and reverence.

I hope you enjoy reading ManuScript as much as I enjoy putting it together.
It has been a great source of healing for me, sharing my love of music and sharing how I interpret it with the rest of the world.

Birds of a feather will fly together
Now music, music and me