© Salina Fisher, 2019
 
Tōrino – echoes on pūtōrino improvisations by Rob Thorne (2016)
for string quartet
duration: 11'
Commissioned by Chamber Music New Zealand for performance by the New Zealand String Quartet
Programme Note

 

Discovering the music of Taonga Pūoro artist Rob Thorne has been the most deeply moving listening experience in my recent memory. I was mesmerized by the many powerful and haunting voices that Thorne could produce through one instrument in particular, the pūtōrino, and felt compelled to explore further and respond musically.
 

The pūtōrino is a purely Māori instrument, and is unique in that can function both as a ‘trumpet’ and ‘flute’. This results in two distinct voices: the deeper, mournful kōkiri o te tane (male voice), and the eerie, more agile waiata o te hine (female voice). An elusive third voice can be achieved by blowing across the māngai (central opening). Thorne ventures further, finding a fourth ‘humming’ voice, as well as percussive sounds. The instrument’s shape is based on the New Zealand case moth cocoon and embodies Hine Raukatauri, the atua (goddess) of music.


It became especially apparent when I had the chance to improvise alongside Thorne on violin, that the pūtōrino shares many musical elements with string playing, particularly in terms of registers, likeness to the human voice, breathy timbres, and flexibility in pitch. Tōrino (meaning ‘spiral’) is my exploration of this, based on transcriptions of recordings of a pūtōrino that Thorne himself had a hand in making.
 

My sincerest thanks, Rob, for your incredible openness, generosity, knowledge, support, and guidance through this beginning of a very special journey.


Mā te rongo, ka mōhio

Mā te mōhio, ka mārama

Mā te mārama, ka mātau

Mā te mātau, ka ora.

 

 

Score available at Wai-te-ata Music Press

View Score Sample

Media

Chamber Music New Zealand Interview with Rob Thorne

Rob Thorne, pūtōrino improvisation

RNZ Concert Upbeat Interview