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The Tahitian Choir


French ethnomusicologist Pascal Nabet Meyer made recordings of the Tahitian Choir in the early '90s that became a surprising international success. More than 120 women and men make up this choir, which is based on the island of Rapa Iti, about a thousand miles south of Tahiti. The himene (songs) are a mix of missionary hymns and ancient traditional music, spiced with distinct embellishments that may initially sound flat to a Western ear, but are musically exciting once you get used to it. The singing can be frantic and rhythmic or overflowing with exuberance. One amazing fact: most untainted indigenous singing around the world is in unison, but some claim that Polynesian groups such as the Tahitian Choir were actually featuring harmony well before contact with Westerners.

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