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Get inside the songs

If you happen to hear a melody in the air tonight, chances are it’s coming from the Carterton Events Centre where Wairarapa Word event Inside the Song is kicking off.

Bringing a range of genres and talents to the region, Inside the Song attendees will hear performances of homegrown music from young artists and veterans alike, and gain insight into their songwriting process.

In the first category, 18-year-old pianist and singer Meg Hunter said one of the songs she has chosen is the first song she ever wrote.

“It’s called Orchard of Possibility, and I had just turned 14,” Hunter said.

“My teen angst when I was 14 definitely manifested itself in pretty big words. But in all seriousness, I think that the main thing that’s changed is the musical complexity of my songs.”

Hunter said she uses the piano as a songwriting tool, adding complexity and jazz undertones to simple chord progressions.

“I think that my songwriting has also changed in the fact that I’m kind of starting to branch out genre-wise,” Hunter said.

“Creativity is play – there is a really childlike thing that I think draws a lot of people to creativity.”

Hunter said there ar e great connections within the local music community, noting Ryan Coles – a local musician playing tonight – had been one of her judges in Talent Wairarapa.

It’s a busy weekend for Coles, who played in Wellington’s regional finals of the nationwide Battle of the Bands rock competition last night, along with another Wairarapa group, Jeff and the Angry Stick.

Coles – who is playing with “guitar wizard” Brian Belluomini – said he tends to write the bones of the songs, and Belluomini “makes an artwork out of them”.

One of the songs they will play tonight is the result of Coles sitting in his office on an arbitrary Wednesday night practising jazz chords.

“I wrote ‘Spaceman’ about my wife. It’s about how sometimes you feel distant,” Coles said.

“But even if I were a spaceman, I would still do anything to get back down to Earth to be with her.”

When one thinks of local music veterans, the legend that is The Warratahs’ Barry Saunders comes to mind.

Those in the audience will be lucky enough to be treated to a few songs from Saunders, who said he is looking forward to seeing what other artists put out there.

“I’ll probably do ‘One Red Morning’, because that was the first song I ever wrote when I shifted out here,” Saunders said.

“A lot of my songs are about places, so I’ll probably stick to that aspect, rather than internal combustion!”

Having travelled and toured a lot, Saunders said places and people have a strong influence.

“They get into you visually, so a lot of my songs include that sort of imagery.”

Starting the performances off is local musician and kapa haka instructor Keepa Smith, who specialises in Polynesian entertainment.

Though a local talent, he has travelled the world, taking the gift of traditional and cultural entertainment with him.

Smith will be performing waiata by songwriting legend Tommy Taurima, along with the Te Rerearangi Māori Choir – a name gifted by “Uncle Tommy” himself.

Taurima’s music comprised of traditional Maori waiata based on myths and legends, with complex harmony structures.

“Everything is pitched around a soprano voice,” Smith said.

“Then the bass brings it all together.”

Smith worked with Taurima and under his tutelage at the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Hawaii.

He was a strict tutor, Smith said.

“You didn’t muck around with him.”

Smith and the choir will perform four songs tonight, but he’s keeping them under wraps”.

Smith’s personal connection to Taurima spans through the generations, with his own mother having worked alongside him.

Music is something passed down, it’s a passion, he said.

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