Hula, mele, and tradition, 1928.


There are some people here trying to find once more the hula, chants, and songs of old Hawaii.

Some people believe that it would be good to perpetuate the hula and olioli hoaeae of the the old. Some believe strongly that it is a waste of time or that type of endeavor would be old fashioned [olopaikini].

Some people think that it is very good for Hawaiian things to be fostered, and they are attempting to put an end to improper things like the kind of hula olapa of some people done in public.

It is true, according to some who know the customs of the hula, it is the beat of the drum where the quality of the hula lies; should the beat of the drum is unsatisfactory, then your hula won’t be good.

Olioli and hoaeae are things that are much sought after by the malihini.

Only if the performance of the olioli and hoaeae is fine and enjoyable, then it is pleasant to listen to.

Some people are searching after and trying to perpetuate these things, but how will these be found; the kamaaina and trained ones are dying. There are but a few left who are expert at performing these olioli hoaeae.

The ukeke is also something that is not played. It is something nice to listen to, which is like someone whispering, “E, e (let’s get a move on).”

When that man Ioane Ukeke was living, he was perhaps referred to by the people for him often playing the ukeke, and that is how the name was applied and that he was called that name.

If there was a group of people gathered at a street corner in Honolulu, you would know that there was Ioane playing his ukeke.

He would take a steel ukeke everywhere he went, and this is known as a Jew’s harp [hapa Iudaio].

There are many other beautiful things of the Hawaiians. And these things are being sought after.

Some people say, “What is the worth of Hawaiian music, because it is being jazzed up by the youth of this age.” And this is true.

According to a haole woman who visited Hilo nei this past year or maybe the year before, while we were eating at the Hilo Hotel, this was when Secretary Work came to Hawaii nei.

While we were dining together on the same table with the governor, William Kualii was singing that song “Imi Au Ia Oe.”

The husband of that woman immediately turned and said to me, “That man that is singing has such a beautiful voice.

“We heard this song in Honolulu yesterday, and the song was sung very differently, being it was done with a trill.”

I told him, “This is a real Hawaiian melody that you are listening to, the other was part Hawaiian and part haole.”

How can we put an end to that kind of singing of Hawaiian songs.

That kind of jazz singing does not come from the haole, but it is a type of singing from the blacks.

Therefore, all the people who want to perpetuate Hawaiian customs, they need to find a way to stop the jazzing up of Hawaiian mele, because it doesn’t match.

(Hoku o Hawaii, 7/24/1928, p. 2)


Ka Hoku o Hawaii, Buke XXII, Helu 9, Aoao 2. Iulai 24, 1928.


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