29 July 2014

Tahitian drumming

The drums musicians play have a hierarchy system. Drummers start on a large bass drum called tariparau (sometimes called pahu). This is the only drum that the very few female drummers in Tahiti play. It has two membranes traditionally made out of sharkskin and is struck with a single mallet making the timbre low but only slightly resonate. It provides the basic pulse for the rhythm. The second drum in the rank is the fa’atete drum. It is a single membrane which can be struck with hands or drum sticks. It is usually made out of coconut tree wood with sharkskin stretched across with intricate carving of flowers, sea turtles, leaves and designs on the bottom. It plays a slightly more complex texture than the tariparau. It has a high tom sound with less resonation. The last main drum is the most challenging to play. It is called the to’ere and is one of the main sounds associated with Tahiti. It’s a hollowed out log, usually from milo, kamani or kou wood (all trees native to Tahiti). The instrument is anywhere from two to six feet long (usually around three to four), with a slit down the side. It is played with a cone-shaped stick also made out of wood, and depending on where the instrument is struck, the sound will change. Like the tariparau, it also has carvings. The timbre is a hollow sound with higher pitches and moderate resonation.

The style of dance is widely known for the specific hip movements that later led to the hula dance in Hawai'i. They are abrupt hip movements that are enhanced by long grass skirts. The upper body remains more fluid and the head rarely moves.
More at Wikipedia.


  1. It was hard to focus on the drumming; the Tahitian dancer was a big distraction. And my husband didn't notice the drumming at all. "Drumming? What drumming?" he asked after he'd wiped the sweat off of his fevered brow.

  2. Have you noticed that she's really grinning starting about midway as if she's enjoying her effect on the audience?

  3. That dancing is illegal in 4 states....


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