Traditional mele and oli demonstrated, 1936.


(Special Star-Bulletin Correspondence)

LIHUE, Kauai, July 30.—A delightful hour of ancient Hawaiian chanting and use of the oldest musical instruments of the islands was presented by Fred Malulani Beckley Kahea and Timothy Makalei Montgomery on Monday evening at the parish house.

Both Mr. Kahea and Mr.Montgomery are from Honolulu and the program was sponsored by the Kauai Historical society and the Kauai Chamber of Commerce.

Some of the instruments on the stage were familiar, such as the feather top rattle gourd, the uliuli, the conch shells called pu and the…

Mr. Montgomery

…puili, bamboo rattlers, which  are often used for modern hula accompaniment.But the nose flute, the musical bow and the wistful hookie, nose whistle gourd, are instruments which have been silent since the time when the lover in the valley would call to his sweetheart by the sea, or played in answer to the little mountain birds.

The drums were exact replicas of the ancient ones found in the bishop museum. Mr. Montgomery gave an explanation of the complex lacing of the old Hawaiian drums and told of the difficulty he found in copying it when making his drums. They are laced without hoops in skin drumhead tightly and yet not such a way as to secure the shark0tear the skin pulling it. The base is of hollowed coconut or palm stump. The temple drum is tall so that the priest might stand while beating it. Beaten with the hands, the tone is deep, vibrant and far reaching.

Drum Announces Birth

Mr. Kahea gave a chant announcing the birth of a prince and the accompanying drum beats on the temple drum. Mr. Montgomery demonstrated the smaller drums, the pahu hula and the knee drum, or kilu, which is strapped to the knee of the sitting drummer and played with the knotted end of an olena chord, while the pahu hula is beaten with the other hand. The rythm is regular and is the accompaniment to hula dancing. The pebbles were played in the same even rythm. The treadle board, ka laau, and sticks, an ancient Kauai rythmical instrument, was demonstraged also by Mr. Montgomery.

The kaekeeke was an instrument used both for tone and rythm, consisting of three large bamboo pipes of different lengths which were struck in time on the floor,each pipe giving a different tone,the rythm governed by the player.

Mr. Kahea and Mr. Montgomery wore feather capes made by Mr.Kahea, who is an expert in Hawaiian feather work. He is the son of the late Maria Beckley Kahea of Kona, Hawaii. Formerly a member of the Royal Hawaiian band, Mr.Kahea is no the keeper of the royal mausoleum in Nuuanu.

Mr. Montgomery is a young man born and raised on Kauai. He attended the Kamehameha school for boys and the University of Hawaii. For the past sven months he has been studying with Mr.Kahea at the Bishop museum. He made all the instruments which he demonstrated. He has learned their usage by study and from old Hawaiian families about Oahu.

Mr. Kahea and Montgomery plan to continue their research in the music of Hawaii, including the ancient meles and olis, and also in the art of featherwork, which among the Hawaiians was more highly developed than among any other people.

Announces Prince’s Birth

Fred Malulani Beckley Kahea of Honolulu giving a chant announcing the birth of a prince, using a temple drum of old Hawaii. In company  with Timothy Makalei Montgomery, also of Honolulu, Mr. Kahea presented an hour’s recital of ancient Hawaiian music Monday night before a Kauai audience at the Lihue parish house.

(Star-Bulletin, 7/31/1936, p. 9)


Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Volume XLIV, Number 13869, Page 9. July 31, 1936.

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