WHO AM I ?
My name is Heimana, I live in Tahiti (French Polynesia).
I work as a computer programmer for 20 years.
I’m a big fan of japanese anime and video games.
I like tahitian music ; toere and ukulele, so I make videos online !
WHAT IS A TOERE ?
Let’s talk about the basics : what is a Toere ?
Toere is a polynesian instrument that is used for drumming purpose.
Its origin should be from Cook Islands and then came to French Polynesia (source : wikipedia).
Here is what it looks like :
* It is a big trunk of wood. Usually made of trees like “MIRO, TOU or TAMANU”.
For the confection, artist sculptors make a slit on a piece of trunk.
They make a hole inside to have a resonance sound. (watch this video)
* Sometime it has some carved drawing to make it a little fancier.
* A piece of wood (stick) is used to strike the Toere.
The length of this stick depends of your physiology (measure it with your forearm).
* The height can vary between 40 to 120 cm, they have given name for each kind of Toere :
– Tokere-mamaiti : small size
– Tokere-tangarongaro : medium size
– Tokere-taki : big size
In a drumming group, the Toere can be played in 5 styles :
– MUA : leader
– ROPU : middle
– MURI : support
– TAHAPE : counter-beat
– ORO ORO : for every purpose (less marked by the pehe beat, dancers should be aware of which one is played)
Toere players usually plays what we call “PEHE” which are drumming pattern that compose an OTEA (Dance).
Want a more indepth read ? : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahitian_drumming
WHERE DID I LEARN TOERE ?
I’ve learned toere a long time ago at our famous local musical school in Papeete TAHITI
which is called “conservatoire de Tahiti” at the age of 14 years old.
I spent about 4 years learning this instrument in a toere classroom with 2 professors at this time : ROGER and HANS (Rest In Peace).
I had to stop going to that school because of my college study in the year 2000.
In 2012, more than 10 years later, I decided to learn from a toere specialist whose name is JOËL to learn how to play better Toere. I wanted to be taught how to play faster and understand how Toere pehe are decomposed.
A friend of mine at work came to the courses also, he asked me if there was a way to write down the Toere in notation because there was no material to practice at home except recordings that you have to do during class for your own.
That was the first attempt of the Toere spreadsheet.
WHERE DOES THE TOERE NOTATION COME FROM ?
The Toere notation that I use on my website was taught at the Conservatoire of Tahiti
before the year 2000 by the professor : ROGER.
He was a very good teacher, I’ve learned a lot from him.
And then, came another professor : HANS kept the same ROGER’s notation to teach us new PEHE pattern.
HANS wanted his student to practice a lot at home, he is right, but that put a lot of pressure and stress with this way of teaching. We were only kids at that time, you know school was the priority back then for me.
I took some music theory night class for 2 years at Conservatoire of Tahiti,
that is how I found out that the notation was wrongly put by ROGER.
I challenged myself to rewrite all the pehe by ears and retranscript them in a better suited beat notation.
I just used his notation and adapt to western music theory. The notation of ROGER was already very good.
Nowadays, the Conservatoire of Tahiti has came-up with another kind of Toere notation, a more “classical” approach instead of drum beat. I’m not very fond of this new notation, it is harder to read and not user friendly.
ROGER‘s toere notation is for me the best and better suited to transmit knowledge of Toere, too bad that they didn’t keep it.
WHAT DID I LEARN IN ADVANCED TOERE MASTERCLASS ?
In advanced Toere class in 2012 with JOËL in Tahiti, that’s where I was enlighted by how toere pehe are made of !
MUA / ROPU / MURI / TAHAPE, all theses 4 variations of a single pattern were taught to me by JOËL.
I have only heard of 2 variations for 2 pehe (samba and toma) at my old musical school in 4 years (it was before the year 2000, I hope it changed since then).
But, he didn’t taught me how to play ORO ORO style :( ; he prefers to teach the normal and straight way to strike the toere : just strike it straight ; find the rebound on the toere ; control ; repeat (old school way of teaching I think but effective). I practiced with him 4 hours every saturday morning, the end of the lesson was hell : eardrums sore, my right forearm was swelling … But it was worth it.
Too bad that after 5 months of so, he hired someone else to teach toere, I decided to quit the class.
WHY THIS WEBSITE ?
To be honest, in the first place, making toere video was merly for FUN and show it to my co-workers.
Then I wanted to practice and learn some video software to gain skills while making Toere video.
When I saw a lot of people commenting my videos on youtube ; facebook ;
and even email me to say that it was so helpful.
That’s how I started to take it seriously !
After some research over internet, I found out that :
– Toere PEHE were not documented at all
– there was no book talking about PEHE
– with all the technology that we have, nobody has ever tried to make something about this instrument.
So, I came up with that crazy idea to share to the world all my knowledge that I gathered all theses years on Toere playing.
I took actions by learning everything needed to get a website up and running and get my hand on softwares to deliver better content.
I rapidly came up to a wall (so to speak) that I didn’t know all PEHE’s variation (they just don’t exist).
So I just made them myself with the explanation of JOËL on how to make pehe variation.
It is not easy to make them, you need to balance with adjustment when played for real on a Toere (sometime it is not as playable as I want it to be). I still need adjustment on my PEHE variation.
That’s the reason why my toere video has flaws, it is a mixed of what I’ve learned and what I have created.
In my humble opinion, as long as dancers and auditors know what pehe you are playing, the rest is magic (ORO ORO playing ? :))
WHAT ABOUT UKULELE ?
I learned ukulele at the Conservatoire of Tahiti also (at the same time as learning Toere) before the year 2000.
My professors at this time were : TETIA and ANDRE.
With TETIA as a professor I learned A LOT of tahitian songs !
He taught me basic strumming and chords on ukulele.
He is a really cool guy to learn from, I appreciated his teaching when I was young.
I’ve learned some guitar also with him … But guitar is not for me, it is so hard and needs ultimate dexterity.
ANDRE as a professor was more advanced courses, I learned only 1 song with him for a whole year (…), he had a french chord notation (but he is 100% native Tahitian), I learned from him some tricks like how to play with all my fingers while strumming.
I’ve learned also how to play by ears the ukulele strumming.
He is a very skilled ukulele player, but I have doubts about his teaching methodology (not easy for beginners).
JOEL, my last Toere teacher, asked me if I wanted to take ukulele lesson with him because I have some difficulties with strumming (I am strumming by ears … what would you expect ? ^^).
I refused as I am already busy, but he gave me some strumming tips to help me … but that was in 2012, I’m not confident if I can still remember what he taught me in half an hour.
Did I mention that I do KARAOKE UKULELE COVER ? :)
But I am still struggling with Tahitian lyrics.