Thursday, November 11, 2010

'Ako Hiva

Yes I’m starting up my blog again. No excuses/reasons why I haven’t done it… I’m just starting again. ;)

After being in Tonga for over a year, many things have begun to feel more natural. That is, until something new happens and I am reminded that there are many things I don’t understand. And then I feel right back to square one.

Recently I started feeling like I needed something else to do. The school year is coming to a close and things have felt pretty slow. (Granted this is Tonga and everything is slower….) I decided it was time for a new undertaking, something that would help me be more social with my village in a more regular manner. And again, this is Tonga, so the only social events in my village are church related. Therefore, I am now in a church choir. (Don’t laugh, I sing well enough for this!)
So tonight was my first choir practice, or in Tongan, ‘ako hiva. Now I’ve been in music quite a bit and have a good ear so I figured I could just read the words (printed in a hymnal without any written music,) like I do every Sunday in church and listen to the tune and catch on eventually. Not so much. Apparently before even learning the words to the song, they learn the melodies. And that is NOT done by reading music that looks like ours. It looks something like this:

3:- 3: 3: 3: etc …………………….
5:-5: 5: 5: etc …………………….
8:- 8: 8: 849: etc …………………….

When I arrived at the practice, I was given a paper that looks like this and everyone just starting singing. A good friend of mine, despite the fact that she can speak English well, was not entirely helpful. I asked her to explain and she simply responded by singing it to me. Needless to say, it didn’t help much.

The small amount I deduced from this practice tonight is that they sing the first syllable or the number that is written, (in Tongan.) The numbers seemed to correspond to a scale but not in sequential order as I expected. The lines following the number notate how long the note is held and the closer the numbers are together, the faster they seemed to be sung. But that doesn’t help much when there are pages of this stuff. J

When practice ended, people were thanking me for coming and asking if I had fun. I told them yes, but I have no idea how to read their music, it’s so different! From this I had hoped someone would say “Hey, I’ll teach you!” But again, not so much. The response was laughter and “Come again Thursday!”

I guess this will be another “learn as I go” experience, one of many here in Tonga!