The Quintessential Hawaiian Uke Song

Farkvam

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Of course there can be more than one; I'm looking to learn some. Too many people my age (or younger...keep forgetting I'm 35!) are playing songs like Riptide. Fun song, but I'd like to learn some traditional Hawaiian songs.

Any thoughts?
 

man0a

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A lot of the "traditional Hawaiian music" that you hear people playing was actually written after World War 2, often by composers that are still alive today. If you're looking for music that was written in the Kingdom of Hawaii, these are probably the 2 most popular ones today:


 
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badhabits

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The 2 mentioned above are probably going to be the most commonly mentioned. Even though it's a reworked hymn, Hawaii aloha is an unofficial anthem. Aloha oe was written by Queen Liliuokalani and has a poignant double meaning. Those 2 would be a good start.
 

Farkvam

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Thank you man0a and badhabits for the two song suggestions, I'll start with those.
And a great suggestion by Bill1, thank you for those links! It would have taken me some time to track those down.
And yes, I've definitely been enjoying playing different styles and moods on this versatile instrument, including the blues, jazz, reggae, pop and rock. My repertoire is limited but I love that the mighty uke can adapt to different genres so well :)
 

Dohle

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Definitely 'Hone A Ka Wai' for me, love this song:


You can get tabs for the song from the video description.
 

mds725

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I recommend a book called He Mele Aloha, which contains more than 200 Hawaiian songs. He Mele Aloha only has chords and lyrics, but you can find videos for most of the songs in the book on YouTube in order to learn the melodies.

https://hemelealoha.com/
 
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mds725

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With all respect to Tia Carrere, her phrasing of the hui (chorus) of Aloha 'Oe is not how Queen Lili'uokalani wrote it. I encourage people to learn this version instead.

 

badhabits

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there are a number of picking tabs out there for both Aloha oe and Hawaii aloha if singing isn't your thing, if interested maybe check Brad Bordessa's site (live ukulele). He mele aloha book has it's limitations as noted, but Steven Espaniola is doing tutorials for songs in book on youtube and his channel is a great resource for that. harry's guitar channel also has simple versions of Hawaiian songs
 
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rorym

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One more suggestion. Mark Nelson’s “Learn to Play Slack Key Style 'Ukulele” book contains tabs for many traditional Hawaiian tunes. I keep going back to this book and memorizing another tune.
 

Brad Bordessa

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Again, He Mele Aloha is really a must-have for any Hawaiian music-loving uke players. It contains most of the classics you'll hear recommended: Kaulana Nā Pua, Maunaloa, I Kona, Pua Carnation, Ulupalakua, Henehene Kou ʻAka, etc, and of course a lot of the Queens's songs.

I've yet to hear of it having an error in the Hawaiian lyrics. Having a reliable reference of the pronunciation is completely invaluable for those striving for accuracy. I have it out at least once a month to double-check lyrics.
 

OpihiMan

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He Hawaii Au, Kanaiaupuni, Koke'e, Ulupalakua, Kaulana Na Pua, Oiwi E, Wahine Ilikea, He Aloha Mele, Hawaii Loa, Ka Uluwehi o Ke Kai, Pua Olena, Laieikawai, Ka Pua U'i
 

Farkvam

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Some good suggestions here! OpihiMan, your post is all Greek to me. I'm impressed! It's a bit daunting to think of learning lyrics in a language that is foreign to me, but the uke is inspiring me.
 

Cluze

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Since several folks have brought it up, I was intrigued and went looking for more information on "He Mele Aloha." It seems that it is currently out of print? The physical copies are going for shocking prices on Amazon, and the website, hemelelaloha.com, simply says they are not in stock. You can still order the Kindle version from Amazon for a mostly reasonable price.

While digging, it also seems that the book only contains the lyrics and cords, not the music itself. I love the idea of this book, and think it is an amazing reference, but I think it might work better as a companion to other resources. I obviously don't have a copy, but I thought I would pass along what I had uncovered.
 

man0a

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Yes, the "He Mele Aloha" book is only chords and lyrics, plus a short history of each song. These are all pretty popular songs and you can find performances and/or tutorials on YouTube if you want to hear the rhythm or pronunciations for the lyrics. While Amazon does not carry the book, a lot of independent bookstores and music stores in Hawaii do carry it and they will ship it to you. For example, Kanile'a Ukulele sells the book from the accessories section of their website: https://www.kanileaukulele.com/shop/shop/accessories/he-mele-aloha
 
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