Ten Guitars & the Māori Strum
February 5, 2018 10:54 PM   Subscribe

How an Engelbert Humperdinck B-side became New Zealand’s unofficial national anthem. The Secret Life of Ten Guitars (RNZ, 24’11, radio programme)

Ten Guitars:
Ten Guitars documentary (1996, NZonScreen) (57'58)
This full-length documentary gives warm-spirited context to the song that has been the soundtrack to countless back lawn crate parties and freezing works chains. It was released as the B-side of singer Engelbert Humperdinck's Please Release Me, and became an unlikely hit in Aotearoa with fans who have done the "dance, dance, dance ...": including Dalvanius (who discusses its "pop-schlock" charms), Bunny Walters, The Topp Twins, Tim Finn & Neil Finn, Jan Hellriegel, Purest Form, Mika and Moana Maniapoto. The documentary also explores why "the national anthem of Patea" is so appealing to Māori.
Ten Guitars at NZ Folk Song and here's the wiki.

Modern Māori Quartet presents My Party Song (First Episode - 3 parts, NZonScreen) (2017) (26’24)
Pull up a chair and grab your guitar; the Modern Māori Quartet — aka musicians Francis Kora, James Tito, Maaka Pohatu and Matariki Whatarau — are here to reinvigorate a clutch of classic Māori party tunes, helped along by a guest list of young and old. With their laidback style the boys trade jokes and memories, and older generations share the songs that make a room sing. This episode also features a new and improved version of 'Ten Guitars', some seriously sharp suits, and a roof-lifting performance from cultural group Te Waka Huia.

The Māori Strum

Ten Riffs on the Maori Strum (Michael Brown, Audio Culture)
The strum’s roots go back at least as far as the Māori concert parties of the 1930s. Today, it can be heard in numerous tributaries of New Zealand musical life, from kapa haka strumming through to the “jingajiks” of the guitar party singalong. It has also percolated into our popular recording heritage, including on several high profile tracks. With its full-bodied sound and percussive pulse, the strumming style is nothing if not versatile.

The history of the Māori strum (Jesse Mulligan interviewing Michael Brown, RNZ) (34’17 radio programme)
It’s a very full strum. We’re not talking about lots of fiddly little notes and finger-picking. Basic strum, full on the downbeat and then often with a percussive, damped quality on the offbeat so it gives you almost a snare drum sound.

He says it is a technique not taught by guitar teachers but rather learned by listening to other players and adapting.

It's what I would call a vernacular music style.

[I recommend skipping to 8’40 on this one]
Jingajik Guitar: The Māori Strumming Style (Justine Murray, RNZ) (29’01 radio programme)
Onomatopoeic terms like the jingajik, the a-ringa-chick strum or the fish-n-chip strum are known as the 'party sing-a-long' strums, or the 'Māori strumming' style.

Charles Royal demonstrates for us:
NZonScreen: The Māori Strum; a playlist

More of the Māori Strum in popular culture:
posted by Start with Dessert (10 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Happy Waitangi Day!
posted by Start with Dessert at 10:55 PM on February 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

Hearing this spoken of, I genuinely thought it was ‘Tin Guitars’, but clearly thit’s just the iccent.
posted by Segundus at 3:49 AM on February 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

Ten Guitars as discussed by Billy Connolly.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 4:15 AM on February 6, 2018

I think I understand the prevalence of jangle-pop bands from NZ a little better now.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 5:05 AM on February 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Something about those strumming patterns really reminds me of Elvis...
posted by joecacti at 5:24 AM on February 6, 2018

I originally heard about (and downloaded) this song from a blog that had a list of the songs Jarvis Cocker chose for Desert Island Discs and subsequently trawled (in vain) through Engelbert Humperdinck's discography for another tune I enjoyed as much as that one. Nice to learn more about it and its roots, thanks!
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:44 AM on February 6, 2018

I've never heard this song and I thank you very much for this post.
posted by JanetLand at 7:10 AM on February 6, 2018

A great post Start with Dessert. Lots of wonderful links and you clearly have out a lot of work in putting them altogether. They feel, and sound, very authentic and very much like the sound of Aotearoa/New Zealand.
posted by vac2003 at 12:16 PM on February 6, 2018

Man, that first video cuts from angle to angle so quickly - it must have been a new thing in 1967, but it's sure disconcerting to watch in 2018.
posted by Metro Gnome at 5:16 PM on February 6, 2018

With the NZ connection, Engelbert reminded me of Jemaine Clement.
posted by MtDewd at 6:24 PM on February 6, 2018

« Older A virtual trip to the Ghibli Museum   |   So, about this whole Furry thing... tweet from... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments