Curiosities of Music - online book

Rare facts about the music traditions of many nations & cultures

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242                  CURIOSITIES OF MUSIC
earth tremble. The war song is raised, and in accordance with its rhythm, the men leap from side to side, each time coming down with a thud, as of some huge engine."*
The New Zealander often entertains himself with sham fights,f but nothing has so intense an effect upon him as the music and action of this rhythmic war-dance. Even when actual war is not impending, he will enter into it with a vigor that is terrible. It transforms him for the time into a monomaniac, and absorbs his whole nature; even when the dance is given in l^onor of a stranger, it is dangerous to go too near the Maori (native New Zealander) until he has become more tranquil.
On one occasion a party of New Zealanders, visiting a European ship, were requested to give an exhibition of their war-dance on board. They did so, beginning without much excitement, but gradually their leaps became so fierce and power­ful that the captain was afraid that they would break the deck; he begged of them to desist, but in vain; he might as well have spoken to a whirl­wind. His voice was drowned in the shouts and singing of the frenzied warriors. The chief of the party, showed the influence of its charms, in a ludicrous manner : —
He had been presented on his arrival, with a full suit of naval uniform, and he stalked around the deck, in all the dignity of new clothes. He
•Wood's Hist, of Man, v. I, p. 162.
t Meineeke Inseln d still. Oceans, v. I. p. 330.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III