Mele and education according to Andrew K. Poepoe, 1930.

Modern Teacher Tells How Old Hawaiians Were Taught


(This is the second article by Mr. Poepoe, a Normal school instructor, telling of Hawaiian tone production methods.)

A story obtained from Kona, Hawaii, and recorded by the late Dr. Emerson, mentioning one of the methods used for the training of the chanters conveys to me several fundamental principles vital to vocal art, that aid in verifying the distinct tone focus and timbre in the Hawaiian voice.

“It refers to a little pool of shallow water in the rocks by the sea at Kailua, Hawaii, where the sun was reflected late every afternoon for a considerable interval. This and similar pools were called ‘poho na’u,’ poho, meaning both a depression in the surface and to blow gently. These pools were great swimming centers in olden times. Continue reading


Andrew K. Poepoe on retaining traditional mele styles, 1930.

Hawaiian Singers Urged to Preserve Native Characteristic Song Tones


With the advent of various mechanical music devices in the homes and public places, foreign tone qualities are being heard and are gradually replacing the distinct Hawaiian tones, so noticeable in Hawaiian songs. I feel it my duty to call the attention of the Hawaiian singers and lovers of Hawaiian vocal art to the fact that the peculiar Hawaiian tone quality that made Hawaii famous has a distinct focus in the vocal organs.

I feel that unless we distinguish the placement of our tones with its characteristics, and our phonetic system, in the vocal organs, from those we hear, the future generations will sing Hawaiian compositions, Hawaiian words, Hawaiian interpretation, with a foreign tone quality.

In written music we have artificial means of preserving the music by musical notations, whereas, in vocal singing we have to depend upon sensations felt in the vocal organs. Continue reading