4aMUa3. A lecture-demonstration of native Hawaiian music.

Session: Thursday Morning, December 5

Time: 8:35

Author: Randie K. Fong
Location: Kamehameha Schools Performing Arts Dept., 210 Konia Circle, Honolulu, HI 96817-1566


Polynesian seafarers are thought to have arrived in Hawaii some two millennia ago. Over centuries, a socially and politically complex civilization developed, which may have supported as many as a million inhabitants. The music of pre-Western Hawaii was primarily a vocal tradition that placed great emphasis on poetic verse. A variety of chant styles and settings were used for purposes of prayer, incantations, genealogical recitations, praise songs, hula (dance) as well as spontaneous expressions of emotion. A diverse inventory of implements made from various materials including stone, wood, bamboo, gourds, dog teeth, shells, and shark skin were developed and used to accompany solo and ensemble chant and dance. Generally, Hawaiian chant is categorized as either mele (strictly metered) or oli (extemporaneous, nonmetered), and typically utilizes from one to four tones with some quarter-tones, as well as several types of vocal ornamentations. From initial Western contact in the late 18th century to the present, indigenous Hawaiian music has evolved significantly from early syncretic ``Hawaiianized'' hymns, Euro-Hawaiian waltzes, marches and ballads, ragtime and swing arrangements, pop, rock, and reggae (``Jawaiian,'' or Jamaican--Hawaiian) to a contemporary neotraditional return to native sounds and styles spurred by cultural renaissance.

ASA 132nd meeting - Hawaii, December 1996