The Pātē is a Samoan percussion instrument of Tahitian origin, named after the Samoan word for "beat" or "clap" "pulse". It is one of many Samoan log drum variants and is of the slit drum family, and therefore is also of the idiophone percussion family. It is made from a hollowed-out log, usually of Miro wood and produces a distinctive and loud sound. Different sizes of log drums offer different pitches and volumes, as well as striking the log drum in the middle or near the ends.
|Other names||Pātē (Rarotonga) French Polynesia) Kā'ara (Mangaia)|
|Hornbostel–Sachs classification||classification needed|
Talipalau drums are a Samoan variant a little larger than a pate drum and somewhat smaller than the Lali log drum variant. The dimensions of some Talipalau are large as 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) high and 3 metres (9.8 ft) in length; these Talipalau are a distant cousin to the Fijian Lali drum which were larger in size. The smaller pate was said to be introduced to Samoa by inter-married Tahitians whom visited and settled in Samoa some 500 years ago. However, in recent times the pate is used together with the other lesser known traditional log drum variants as well as the Samoan fala as percussive musical instruments. Because of the widespread distribution of Samoan music through the great Polynesian expansion, the use of the Pātē has gained much popularity among other neighbouring Polynesian Islands such as Uvea and Futuna, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Niue.
There are five main Samoan wooden slit drum variants:
Tahitian warriors introduced intricate wooden log pate drumming to the Samoan Islands and the Cook Islands. In Rarotonga its origins have grown into deep spiritual roots that are still found in Cook Islands drumming today.
In Samoa log drums have traditionally been used in communicating over large distances in times of war and for signaling times of Sa, Chief and Village Meetings. Drums are also used in traditional song and dance.
In Tahiti the people have taken a more contemporary approach where drumming and dancing is used more for entertainment and tourism than traditional functions. For example, French Polynesia celebrates the annual Heiva i Tahiti festival where different tribes and island clan groups are able to compete against each other in a dance and drumming competition.
First a segment of a hardwood tree trunk or thick branch is taken and stripped of its bark. Holes are then bored into the log in a straight line, from one end to the other, optionally leaving some space at each end. What remains in between the holes is then chiseled out, forming the characteristic slit. After this, the log continues to be hollowed out through the slit. Both the shape of the slit and the extent that the log is gutted will affect the tone and pitch of the pate.