Aotearoa (the land of the long white cloud) ao – cloud, tea – white or clear, roa – long or tall
Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand. Legend says that the explorer Kupe’s first
indication of land in the distance was the long cloud which hung over the North Island of NZ.
Most of my compositions have a story behind them …and these are no exception! Giving a
title or a story to a composition is for me, the make up for a lack of lyrics, and its rare for me
to sit and play these tunes without conjuring up the reason for the title, and the fun times that
happen behind the music.
The Heron (waltz)
The Resolved Dispute (air)
Miss Laura Robertson (jig)
Lesley’s Waltz (waltz)
Planxty Rosemary (waltz)
Always There (air)
The Heron was the first piece of music I wrote to fit onto the range of the Scottish Smallpipes, all
nine notes of them! It was somewhat of a challenge considering I had never had to put much thought
into writing in a set key (2 sharps) and a limited range, but it worked really well, and I have written
many tunes in this key since! It is dedicated to Shane’s then newly opened Heron Recording Studios.
There are two versions of this tune – a solo harp version and one where the harp accompanies the
melody instrument. We play The Heron and straight in to The Resolved Dispute.
The Resolved Dispute was the first tune co-written by Shane and myself. The first part was written
by Shane, and he gave it to me to see what I could do with it, and then also wrote a B part, which didn’t
take my fancy. So I wrote another B part, which he didn’t like. We had to set it aside for a month or
so until he saw the light, and decided my B part was perfect for the tune. All good things come in time!
Written to celebrate the birth of Miss Laura Robertson in 2001. Laura started learning the harp at the
age of four and a half, and now, in 2015, has passed her Grade 6 practical harp exams.
Maybe every new baby should have a dedicated tune to ensure musical talent in their later life?
Lesley’s Waltz was started by Shane and finished by me (we do this sometimes when we get a bit
stuck for where to go next with the tune) and dedicated to Shane’s mum, Lesley Carter. There is a
second version of this tune where the harp plays accompaniment to the melody line – I tend to do a
mix of both versions when we play it together. And, although there is a key change, this runs very
nicely into Planxty Rosemary.
Planxty Rosemary is dedicated to Australian harpist Rosemary St John who, several years ago, became
my penpal (she doesn’t have a computer) and this tune popped into my head when I was thinking of her
one morning. Her beautifully handwritten letters are always a delight to receive. There is also a harmony
line to go with this tune.
Always There is a piece of music written to put to rest some ghosts of passed loved ones who, and it
sounds weird, I know, kept appearing in my dreams. Their appearance were getting a bit upsetting, as I
miss each of them in their different ways, but I decided to write them a tune and let them know that
although they may be gone from this world, they will always be there in many ways.
Strangely, I haven’t dreamed of them since writing this piece.
Its always fun composing with Shane – we have contrary composing styles, so bringing them together
can be fun and challenging in one, and its great to be able to hand over a composition which has me
stumped and say ‘hey, can you finish this one’!
Cover art painted by the gorgeously talented Moira Pagan (www.moirapagan.wix.com) and
formatted by John Pagan