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Taonga Pūoro, Chanting Voices and Digital Audio Textiles

Reo is voice – the human voice, the voices of our instruments, the voices of the natural world. In the traditional worldview, the entire natural world is a ‘voice’, a language, a music, a ‘reo’.

Reo is a music group formed in early 2010. It comprises important New Zealand important taonga pūoro players Horomona Horo, Alistair Fraser and James Webster. It also includes vocalists Erina Daniels and Charles Royal and is completed by digital music composer extraordinaire, Paddy Free.

The music of Reo utilises taonga pūoro, mōteatea styled chanting and digital textures; creating ambience in mood and atmosphere. Reo’s interests involve deepening yet further the spectrum of vocal quality, the soundscape of tāonga puoro together with digital textures and styles.

Paddy Free provides various kinds of digital textures against which Reo perform and intermittently improvise. He also introduces digital manipulations of our voices and those of the instruments. Reo creates distinctive soundscapes and voices in unique ways.

Key pieces by Reo include the chant Āio (peace), a mantra - a chanting upon the name of the godhead of Io, the supreme being of Māori tradition. The improvised music piece Reo (voice) breaks this word down into its constituent sounds (r, e, o) and explores this sound world. I haere nei koe (‘You have gone’), is a melancholic love song expressing the sorrow of the departure of a loved one. Matariki (the star cluster Pleiades) was composed to mark the appearance of this star cluster in the middle of the New Zealand winter, an event that signals the beginning of the Māori New Year. Other songs include Te Take o te Rākau (‘At the base of a tree I sing’) and Tautapatapa (‘Naming the elements of the natural world’).