The influence of Maori Music Traditions in the Flute Compositions of Gillian Whitehead
Doctor of Musical Arts thesis
This paper will investigate the two primary flute compositions by New Zealand composer Gillian Whitehead (b. 1941), who is perhaps the most well-known composer from that country. This paper focuses on two works: Hine Raukatauri (1999), a piece for three Western flutes (flute, piccolo, and alto flute) and traditional Maori instruments (taonga puoro); and Taurangi, (1999) for flute and piano. Both of these works demonstrate Whitehead's appreciation for and understanding of traditional Maori music and instruments. The importance of Hine Raukatauri is in the blend between Western and Maori flutes, and how Whitehead creates a unified sound with very different instruments. The second work, Taurangi, is for two Western instruments, yet the sounds that are produced from the flute show a very definite connection with traditional Maori instruments. Whitehead also uses the piano in unconventional ways, including rolling a ping pong ball across the strings, inside the piano. Whitehead's biographical information is presented, including details about her family background and Maori ancestry, the sites of her musical training, her compositions, and the most important influences on her work. Much of the information in the document is based on interviews with the composer and others of her circle.