Gabby Pahinui – notes for the recording PURE GABBY (Hula Records 567)
Virtuoso musician and soulful singer, Gabby Pahinui (1921-1980) was the founder of the modern Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar era, having made the first ever recordings with the Slack Key guitar in 1946. This classic album, recorded in 1961, presents him mainly in a trio setting, performing many of his favorite songs.
Gabby Pahinui: Slack Key guitar and vocals
Sonny Nicholas: acoustic bass
Danny Stewart: ‘ukulele
Hi’ilawe (vocal) (3:59)
Kï Hō’alu (instrumental) (2:47)
Nanea Ko Maka I Ka Le’ale’a (vocal) (2:25)
Līhu’e (vocal) (3:48)
Lei Nani (vocal) (3:04)’
Slack-Key Medley (Hula Medley): Nani Wale Līhu’e /Ka `I`iwi Polena/Silver Threads Among the Gold/ Nani Wali Līhu’e (march style)/Wai’alae (instrumental) (2:35)
Wai O Ke Aniani (vocal) (2:34)
Slack-Key Hula: Mauna Loa/Moana Chimes/Pua Be Still (instrumental) (2:35)
Mauna Loa (vocal) (4:58)
‘Ahulili (vocal) (2:49)
I Ka Pō Me Ke Ao (vocal) (2:44)
Farewell Medley: Isa Lei/Aloha ‘Oe (instrumental) (4:50)
“Dad knew exactly when to pop it out. He could make an audience laugh or cry on cue just by watching them and when the time was right, he’d touch their hearts.”
Bla Pahinui (Slack Key guitarist/vocalist)
“I tell you, all the songs my dad did still have a lot of meaning for me and always will. I never get tired of hearing them or playing them. They’re the songs that touch me the most.”
Cyril Pahinui (Slack Key guitarist/vocalist)
“When I sing, I feel him standing right next to me. My dad was and always will be the greatest.”
Martin Pahinui (vocalist/ bassist/Slack Key guitarist)
Virtuoso musician, consummate entertainer, Pops Gabby Pahinui is the founder of the modern Slack Key guitar era. Like Louis Armstrong, another musical giant who earned the honoring title of Pops, Gabby revolutionized the instrument he played, and was revered for his incredibly soulful vocals. His creative improvising, dynamic flair, and rhythmic mastery made him a hugely influential artist. More than twenty years after his death, he remains a towering figure, not only in Slack Key but also in wider music circles. As Ry Cooder put it in a recent interview, “He was the Man...I’d never heard anybody play guitar and sing like that...you meet folkloric people and you meet great players, but this guy seemed to be able to do everything.”
Gabby was famous for his live performances, where his inventiveness and charisma shone brightest. Fortunately, he made excellent use of the studio as well, becoming the first person to record Slack Key, and he recorded more often than any other Slack Key guitarist of his generation. His groundbreaking releases on Bell Records in 1946 – Hi’ilawe, Hula Medley (with Nani Wale Līhu’e, Hālona, and Wai’alae), Kī Ho’alu, and Wai O Ke Aniani - dazzled listeners, inspired musicians, and convinced other great Slack Key guitarists, such as Sonny Chillingworth (1932-1994), Leonard Kwan (1931-2000) - (Sonny and Leonard are the next most influential Slack Key guitarists in history), Abraham Konanui, Atta Isaacs (1929-1983), Ray Kane (1925- ), and others to begin recording what had previously often been a carefully guarded music style, seldom shared with the public at large. The power of these early recordings resounded in many Hawaiian homes. One can imagine the awe and confoundment of other Slack Key guitarists listening to these tracks, as each of the four were in different tunings! (Gabby’s first five recordings and fifteen other historical tracks by eight other great Slack Key guitarists from the 1940s and early 1950s have been reissued on the recording The History of Slack Key on Hana Ola Records 24000).
Gabby had five significant recording periods:
1. the mid 1940s for Bell and Aloha Records
2. the 1950s for Waikīkī Records
3. the early 1960s for Hula Records
4. the late 1960s for Hula and Tradewinds Records
5. the 1970s for Panini Records
Many of the songs he recorded became the definitive versions and the standard way to play them, and remain so to this day.
Gabby used four tunings: the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D - from the lowest pitched string to the highest), a C Wahine Tuning (C-G-E-G-B-E), the C Mauna Loa Tuning (C-G-E-G-A-E), and an F Wahine Tuning (F-C-E-G-C-E).
There are 3 main classifications of tunings: the Major Tunings, where the tuning is usually a full Major chord, or has a Major chord within the tuning; the Wahine Tunings, where the tuning has a major seventh note in it; and the Mauna Loa Tunings, where the two highest pitched strings are tuned a fifth interval apart.
Most Slack Key guitarists predominantly use one or two tunings from these three main categories. Usually a guitarist uses only one Mauna Loa Tuning, and often two Wahine Tunings, as Gabby did. Sometimes a guitarist will use two Major Tunings, as Cyril Pahinui does (the C Major Tuning [C-G-E-G-C-E] and the D Major Tuning [D-A-D-F# -A D]) and the late Leland “Atta” Isaacs did (the C Major Tuning [C-G-E-G-C-E] and occasionally the G Major Tuning [D-G-D-G-B-D]). When asked about playing tunings, though, Gabby told Dave Guard “It’s not how you tune ‘em up, it’s how you pluck ‘em.”
Gabby had four styles in which he liked to play Slack Key:
1.The first had an alternating “double-thumbing” bass, where the thumb plays the first and third beat bass notes on the fifth and sixth strings (depending on the chord being played), and plays the second and fourth beat bass notes on the fourth or third strings. He used this style for songs in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D) and the C Mauna Loa Tuning (C-G-E-G-A-E)––on this album, the songs Kī Ho’alu, Līhu’e, , Lei Nani, Wai O Ke Aniani, Slack Key Hula, Mauna Loa, ‘Ahululi, and I Ka Me Ka Ao.
2. For the second style, he played a bass note on the first and sometimes third beats, and played fills on the higher strings between the bass notes. He used this style for songs in his C Wahine Tuning (C-G-E-G-B-E)––on this album, the songs Hi’ilawe and Nanea Ko Maka I Ka Le’ale’a; and sometimes in the C Mauna Loa Tuning––on this album, in parts of the song I Ka Pō Me Ke Ao.
3. His third one was a march style, playing the bass notes on the sixth string on the first beat and the fifth string on the third beat. He often used this style when playing in his F Wahine Tuning (F-C-E-G-C-E)––on this album, the fourth song of the Slack Key Medley: Nani Wale Līhu’e (for the second time he plays this song; in the march tempo the second time).
4. His fourth style used a rubato (no tempo) technique in the introduction to certain songs, a style which is very effectively used today by his son Cyril Pahinui. Gabby used this style often in his F Wahine Tuning (F-C-E-G-C-E)––on this album, for the first three songs in the Slack Key Medley: Nani Wale Līhu’e, Ka ‘I’iwi Polena, and Silver Threads Among the Gold; and in the Farewell Medley for the songs Isa Lei and Aloha ‘Oe.
By the late 1960s, a Slack Key revival had spread throughout the Islands, part of the Hawaiian Renaissance of reviving and expanding the great artistic traditions. Many important figures contributed to the movement, and Gabby led the way. He influenced, and continues to this day to influence, everyone who plays Slack Key guitar. Gabby was the founder of the modern Slack Key era, and his prolific and unique techniques led to greater recognition of the guitar as a solo instrument. He expanded the boundaries of Slack Key by creating a fully evolved solo guitar style capable of creatively interpreting a wide variety of Hawaiian traditional and standard songs, original pieces, contemporary songs, and songs from other cultures, such as Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, the Maori culture (of New Zealand), Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Portugal, and Spain––as well as Mainland American jazz, folk, pop, and country & western music. But Gabby most inspired other musicians through the feeling, the mana (soul), in his Slack Key guitar playing and with his hauntingly soulful and beautiful vocals, especially his ka leo ki’eki’e (falsetto singing). Additionally, he was a fine electric steel guitarist, and he occasionally recorded on steel. Because his artistry was both timeless and so well suited to its time, Gabby always attracted a diverse audience. At his concerts you could see everyone from white haired kupuna (elders), for whom Gabby was a youngster rekindling memories, to long haired teenagers, who saw Gabby as a cool uncle, a kindred spirit, a Slack Key rebel.
More than a local phenomenon, Gabby’s music spread globally. As a testament to the power of his music, this happened without him ever touring outside of Hawaiçi. He chose instead to stay home, playing concerts and clubs in Hawai’i, and hosting his famous Bell Street jam sessions, where technique and feeling commingled to create magic of a very high order. Collaborations with Ry Cooder, who dropped by to pay his respects in 1975, carried the Pahinui name to countless folk music fans who continue to sing his praises.
As the Slack Key movement continues to grow, with the number of recordings, concerts, classes, books, videos, and internet sites increasing every year, Gabby’s reputation spreads. Posthumous awards frequently come his way. In 2001 a sculpture of him by artist Jan-Michelle Sawyer was unveiled at the entranceway of the Waikīkī Shell, and in 2002 he was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Every year since 1982 the annual Gabby Pahinui/Atta Isaacs/ Sonny Chillingworth Slack Key Festival (also now called the Hawaiian Slack Key Festival) has been produced by Milton Lau and Ka-Hoku Productions. Perhaps the most fitting tribute is that so many of his albums are still in print, still bringing joy, and still inspiring young players and musicians of all ages, and every Slack Key guitarist. As his son, Cyril, says simply, “Music was his life.”
Gabby was born Charles Kapono Kahahawai, Jr. on April 22, 1921, of Hawaiian, Portuguese, and German ancestry. Adopted through the Hawaiian tradition of hanai by Philip and Emily Pahinui, he grew up in the colorful Kakaçako district of Honolulu, which at that time was home to duck ponds, small businesses, and a large, ethnically diverse population. Accounts of how Gabby got his nickname vary, though many agree it came from the gabardine cloth popular in his childhood.
By all accounts, Gabby was a precocious musician; learning bass at age ten and turning professional at 13. He often claimed that growing up he was more interested in jazz than Hawaiian music, once citing Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, and Django Reinhardt as particular favorites. His interest in Slack Key began after meeting a neighborhood guitarist he knew only as “Herman.” At that time Gabby was learning to play guitar in the Standard Tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E), and he was totally impressed by Herman’s ability to play the melody, rhythm, and bass at the same time. Herman died soon after showing Gabby the basics. He spent the next ten years practicing to develop his style. Gabby often described Herman as the greatest Slack Key player of all time, a description usually given to Gabby himself today.
By the mid-1930s, Gabby also played the çukulele and steel guitar. He acknowledged the great steel guitarist Sol Hoçopiçi as his main inspiration on steel guitar, though Gabby’s own style had a more delicate, filigree sound. He usually played the electric steel in the modern B11th Tuning (B-D#-F#-A-C#-E). His other favorite steel player was the lesser known Puni Kaulia. Gabby’s talents landed him the steel guitar post with the popular band Andy Cummings & His Hawaiian Serenaders in the late 1930s, and he was a regular in the swinging Waikīkī scene. He married Emily when he was seventeen, and they had thirteen children, four of whom became musicians (Bla, Cyril, Martin, and Philip Pahinui). In the 1950s, he continued to work as a steel guitarist, but focused more on Slack Key, recording many classic sides for the Waikīkī Record Label and playing bars throughout the Islands. He also began hosting the legendary jam sessions at his Bell Street home in Waimanalo.
One such visit to Gabby’s house resulted in the formation of the Sons of Hawai’i (with ‘ukulele master Eddie Kamae (1927-1917), the late great steel guitarist David “Feet” Rogers, and bassist Joe Marshall (1929-1993), the group most musicians credit with spearheading the Hawaiian Music Renaissance of the 1960s and early 1970s. Gabby played Slack Key and sang with the Sons of Hawai’i, bringing the spirit of classic older Hawaiian songs to a new generation. During this period he also recorded the trio sessions reissued here, and later in the 1960s, some seminal duets with his good friend and Slack Key master Atta Isaacs (on the late 1960s album Two Slack Key Guitars on Tradewinds Records 124).
On a stopover in the Islands in 1961, Dave Guard of the Kingston Trio produced the tracks that make up Pure Gabby. A Honolulu boy, Dave grew up admiring Gabby and wanted to make, as he put it, “a straight recording of his guitar and singing, with just a little bass and ‘ukulele along for the ride.” With Danny Stewart on ‘ukulele and Sonny Nicholas on bass, Dave recorded Gabby at Honolulu’s Central Union Church in two long sessions, which were interrupted every fifteen minutes by the ringing of church bells (you can hear them after Slack Key Medley. Once the album was completed, Dave shopped it around to mainland labels, hoping the power of Gabby’s music (or at least Dave’s own celebrity), would secure a national release. Suprisingly, there were no takers. Seventeen years later, however, Hula Records, who had first recorded Gabby with the Sons of Hawai’i in 1962, issued twelve of the songs along with a companion interview as the original Pure Gabby album, much to the delight of Gabby’s growing legions of fans.
In 1978, when Pure Gabby was finally released, Pops was at the height of his creativity, and a larger than life figure in the local music scene. His band, the Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band (sometimes with two, three, or four of his sons, plus always Slack Key guitarist Atta Isaacs, and sometimes Slack Key guitarist Sonny Chillingworth, and others) was a major concert draw and his recordings were top sellers. Still, like many musicians playing traditional music, Gabby worked a day job. He spent 14 years with the city road crew, and in the last years of his life taught Slack Key for Honolulu Parks and Recreation.
On the afternoon of Sunday, October 13, 1980, while playing golf with Andy Cummings, Gabby died. His wake was held at Honolulu Hale (the Honolulu City Hall). Andy and many other musicians paid their respects with heartfelt performances. Since then, there have been countless tributes to Gabby, but, in the end, his music speaks for itself.
“...It’s enough that he plays the sweetest, cleanest, most soulful, most Hawaiian guitar music ever heard. It’s enough that he was one of the finest voices in the world. It’s enough that when I hear Gabby I’m home.”
On Pronouncing Hawaiian:
A is sounded as in ‘ah’
E is sounded either ‘ay’ as in ‘bay,’ or ‘eh’ as in ‘men’
I is sounded like ‘ee’ as in ‘see’
O is sounded as in ‘go’
U is sounded ‘oo’ as in ‘too’
All syllables are pronounced separately, and most words are pronounced by sounding all the vowels. For example, kaça is pronounced ‘kah-ah.’
Also, the word haçina is often sung as the first word of the last verse. It is the first word of the phrase Haçina çia mai ana ka puana, meaning “the theme of the song has been told” or “tell the summary refrain” or “the story is told.”
(See the Discography for a complete listing of all of Gabby’s recordings, and for the other versions that Gabby has recorded of the songs on this album).
Tuning: C Wahine “Gabby’s Hi’ilawe” (C-G-E-G-B-E - from the lowest pitched string to the highest)
Using the beautiful Hi’ilawe waterfall (the highest waterfall in Hawai`i located deep in the Waipi’o Valley on the Big Island of Hawai’i), to symbolize a love affair that took place there, the traditional Hi’ilawe is regarded as Gabby’s signature tune. This subtly poignant story is about a girl from the Puna area of the Big Island who visits a young man she has fallen in love with in the Waipi'o Valley, and encounters the gossip of the small community, which is symbolized by the many chattering birds. She finally leaves this sad situation and goes back home where she is appreciated for who she is. Gabby recorded it at his first session for Bell Records in 1946 and soon again for Aloha Records in 1947 (both are reissued on the recording The History of Slack Key Guitar on Hana Ola Records 24000). He later recorded versions for Waikīkī Records in the 1950s, on The Best of Hawaiian Slack Key With Gabby Pahinui (Waikīkī Records 340); and in a slower tempo for Panini Records on his 1972 album Gabby (often called “the Brown Album”) on Panini Records 1002, and on the live compilation album from 1974, The Waimea Music Festival (Panini Records 1006). He also played a great soulful slow solo version of it at the end of the 1979 film Gabby Pahinui, Family & Friends.
On this recording, Gabby plays in a C Wahine Tuning which is referred to as “Gabby’s Hi’ilawe Tuning” or “Gabby’s C Wahine Tuning” because he was the first one to record in it, and was the guitarist who used it most prolifically, especially for his versions of Hi’ilawe. Wahine, literally translated as woman, is a term used to describe tunings with a Major 7th chord, such as this tuning, or any tunings with the major 7th note in it (here the B note on the second highest pitched string). This version of the song displays not only Gabby’s beautiful guitar playing, but also his spirited singing, which, like his instrumental work, was heavily influenced by Hawaiian traditions. Note how he percussively slaps the guitar, inspired by the ipu (the traditional Hawaiian gourd drum).
Gabby’s influence on other Slack Key guitarists is evident by how many guitarists have also recorded the songs on this album after hearing his versions.
For comparison, other Slack Key guitarists who have recorded vocal versions of Hi’ilawe are:
Sonny Chillingworth, in a different C Wahine Tuning (C-G-D-G-B-D), on his album Sonny Solo (Dancing Cat), and again in that same C Wahine Tuning, on his 1966 album Ka ‘Āina ‘O Hawai’i (Lehua Records).
Ray Kane, in a different C Wahine Tuning (C-G-D-G-B-E), on his album Waçahila (Dancing Cat Records), and in the G Wahine Tuning (D-G-D-F# -B-D), on his 1975 album Nanakuli’s Raymond Kane (Tradewinds Records - reissued on CD on Hana Ola Records, with the title The Legendary Ray Kane - Old Style Slack Key -The Complete Early Recordings).
Cyril Pahinui, in the C Major Tuning (C-G-E-G-C-E), on his 1998 album Night Moon (PŌ Mahina) (Dancing Cat Records).
Bla Pahinui, in the Dropped D Tuning (D-A-D-G-B-E), singing a different melody, on his 1983 album Bla Pahinui (Mountain Apple Records), and with the normal melody for a future recording for Dancing Cat Records.
Led Kaapana, in the Standard Tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E), playing in the key of C, on his 1994 album Led Live–Solo (Dancing Cat Records).
Haunani Kahalewai recorded it twice in the D Wahine Tuning (D-A-D-F# -A-C#), on her early 1960s album Haunani, The Voice Of Hawai’i (Decca Records – out-of-print), and on a 78 r.p.m. (49th State Records 181), to be reissued in the future on The History Of Slack Key - Volume 2 (Hana Ola Records) – From the early 1950s and farther back, Hi’ilawe and similar traditional songs were often played in the D Wahine Tuning, a tuning used less often today.
Instrumental Slack Key versions Hi’ilawe have been recorded by:
Atta Isaacs [with The Maile Serenaders (AKA the Sons of Hawai’i)], in his C Major Tuning (C-G-E-G-C-E), on the 1966 album Slack Key & Steel Guitar Instrumentals, Volume 1 (formerly titled Kani Ka Pila! Volume 1) (Hula Records).
George Kuo, in the same C Wahine Tuning as Gabby (C-G-E-G-B-E), with the title Old Hi’ilawe, on his 1981 album NAHENAHE-HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY GUITAR (Hula Records).
Keola Beamer, in the G6th Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-E), on his 1997 album Mauna Kea–White Mountain Journal (Dancing Cat Records).
Cindy Combs, in the G6th Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-E), on her 1997 album Slack Key Lady (Dancing Cat Records).
Tuning: C Mauna Loa (C-G-E-G-A-E)
Another of the first songs Gabby recorded on slack key guitar in 1946 for Bell Records (with the title Key Kaholo), Kī Ho’alu (literally meaning “Slack Key”) offers variations on a traditional theme widely played in slack key circles. Gabby’s 1946 version (reissued on the recording The History of Slack Key Guitar on Hana Ola Records 24000) featured the theme used in this version, along with another traditional theme for the beginning part that is similar to Leonard Kwan’s 1960 recording Pau Pilikia, on his album Slack Key (the “Red Album”) on Tradewinds Records 103.
This recording nicely illustrates the uniqueness of this C Mauna Loa Tuning, which Gabby was the first one to record in. In Mauna Loa Tunings the two highest pitched strings are tuned a fifth interval apart. This way the player can easily make sliding sixth interval double notes on those strings, rather than the more commonly used first and third strings (or the second and fourth strings in some tunings). This gives the Mauna Loa Tunings a distinctively sweet sound. Mauna Loa Tunings also allow the player to rapidly frail the two highest pitched strings (a technique that Gabby uses for I Ka Pō Me Ka Ao, song #11).
In the other tunings that Gabby employed, the C Wahine Tuning (C-G-E-G-B-E), the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), and the F Wahine Tuning (F-C-E-G-C-E), he used the first string and the thicker third string for the sixth intervals. In the last 10 years of his life Gabby used just the C Mauna Loa Tuning and the C Wahine Tuning for his recordings and live performances, changing only the second string to either the A or B note, depending on the song; and often tuning the whole guitar down between one and four half steps, depending on the key he sang the song in.
Note how Gabby beautifully strums with his thumb from the sixth to the first strings, while keeping a steady beat with the thumb on the bass notes (on the lowest pitched sixth and fifth strings on beats one and three, and on the higher third and fourth strings on beats two and four).
====maybe make the albums upper and lower case caps ??:
Kī Ho’alu, or variations on it with different names, has been recorded by:
Sonny Chillingworth, in the G Mauna Loa Tuning (D-G-D-D-G-D) with the title Key Kaholo, on his album SONNY CHILLINGWORTH (Makaha Records), and for a future album on Dancing Cat Records; and he also recorded another similar type song, Malasadas, in the G Wahine Tuning(D-G-D-F#-B-D) on his album WAIMEA COWBOY (Lehua Records), and also on his album SONNY SOLO (Dancing Cat Records); and another version with the title Kī Ho’alu , will be issued on his third album to be issued on Dancing Cat Records.
b. Leonard Kwan, in the G Mauna Loa Tuning (D-G-D-D-G-D) reissued on the album LEONARD KWAN-SLACK KEY MASTER-THE COMPLETE EARLY RECORDINGS (Hana Ola Records); and also in the G6th Mauna Loa Tuning (D-G-D-E-G-D] on his album KEALA’S MELE (Dancing Cat Records). He also recorded another similar type song, Pau Pilikia, in a different C Mauna Loa Tuning (C-G-C-G-A-E), reissued on the album LEONARD KWAN-SLACK KEY MASTER-THE COMPLETE EARLY RECORDINGS (Hana Ola Records).
c. Cyril Pahinui, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on his album HE’EIA (Dancing Cat Records).
Led Kaapana, in the G Wahine Tuning (D-G-D-F#-B-D), with the title Kiho Alu on the album HUI OHANA [the Reunion Album] (Paradise Records), and also on the album LED LIVE-SOLO (Dancing Cat Records)
Ray Kane recorded it with the title Popoki Slack Key in the A Mauna Loa Tuning (E-A-E-E-F#-C#) on his album WA’AHILA (Dancing Cat Records), and he is the only guitarist to record in it (as of 2020). He also recorded another similar traditional type song, Wai’anae Slack Key Hula, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on his album PUNAHELE (Dancing Cat Records). He also recorded another similar traditional type song, Auwe, reissued on the album THE LEGENDARY RAY KANE –OLD STYLE SLACK KEY–THE COMPLETE EARLY RECORDINGS (Hana Ola Records), and for his next album on Dancing Cat Records. He also plays variations on it as instrumental breaks in many of his vocal pieces.
George Kuo recorded a similar type song, Kohala Charmarita, in the G Wahine Tuning (D-G-D-F#-B-D) on his album NAHENAHE—HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY GUITAR (Hula Records), and for a future album on Dancing Cat Records).
Nanea Ko Maka I Ka Le’ale’a
Tuning: C Wahine “Gabby’s Hi’ilawe” (C-G-E-G-B-E)
Once a bar staple, this traditional risqué tale, which non-explicitly translates as “relaxed is your face in pleasure”, gives Gabby a chance to show off his kolohe (rascal) side. By all accounts, Gabby was the life of any party. As longtime friend and playing companion Sonny Chillingworth once said, “When Pops played a funny song, he had to make you laugh. If he couldn’t do it with the music, he’d roll his eyes, or toss in some off the wall ad lib. If that didn’t work, he’d get up and start dancing a comic hula.” He also recorded Nanea Ko Maka I Ka Le’ale’a as an instrumental, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), with the Maile Serenaders for Hula Records in 1969.
Most Hawaiian mele (songs) feature the use of kaona (poetic hidden meanings of love, lovemaking, and other subjects). Traditionally there can be different levels of kaona, and in the times before Western contact there were sometimes five different levels in the chants and hula dancing, for the common people up through the hierarchy to the ali`i (chiefs/ royality). This song, however, is rather unique with its totally explicit Hawaiian lyrics.
Other Slack Key artists who have recorded instrumental versions of this song are:
George Kuo, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on his 1981 album Nahenahe (Hula Records) – this version was inspired by Gabby’s version with the Maile Serenaders.
Ray Kane, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on his 1994 album Punahele (Dancing Cat Records) – this version was inspired by Gabby’s version with the Maile Serenaders.
A Slack Key version of this song with vocals was recorded by:
Sonny Chillingworth, in another C Wahine Tuning (C-G-D-G-B-D), on his 1966 album Ka çAina ‘O Hawai’i (Lehua Records), and for a future album for Dancing Cat Records.
Tuning: G Major “Taro Patch” (D-G-D-G-B-D)
A mele inoa (place song) by Annie Koulukou, probably composed around the early 1900s, Līhu’e celebrates the Paupili rain, the sea at Niumalu, and other special features of Kaua’i’s largest city. Gabby plays it in the G Major “Taro Patch” Tuning favored by so many guitarists in Hawai’i, as well as in Mainland America and Europe, and he sings it beautifully and soulfully. He also recorded it in 1972 in his C Wahine Tuning (C-G-E-G-B-E), on his album Gabby (“the Brown Album”) on Panini Records 1002.
Tuning: G Major “Taro Patch” (D-G-D-G-B-D), tuned down a half step to sound in the key of F#
A song by Charles Namahoe, possibly written around the late 1940s (it was at least copywritten by him, and it may have been written by Joseph Suzuki Hunt, with the title Leilani). Lei Nani uses a pretty lei to press for reconciliation between two lovers. Gabby recorded it two other times and in two different arrangements: playing in his C Wahine Tuning (C-G-E-G-B-E), on his 1972 album Gabby (Panini Records 1002), was influenced by Mexican Mariachi music for the vamp, and is very different from his 1960 recording of it, in a different C Wahine Tuning than he usually used, the popular C-G-D-G-B-D (the only time he ever recorded in this tuning) on the album Hawaiian Slack Key, Volume I – With Gabby Pahinui (Waikīkī Records 319).
This recording features Gabby’s incredibly beautiful ka leo ki’eki’e (falsetto), which was as inspiring to musicians and listeners as his Slack Key playing. Note the ipu-style drumming on the guitar in the introduction and the ending. Take 1, the take used here, is looser, with more risk taking, and is being released for the first time.
Another Slack Key version of this song with vocals has been recorded by:
Cyril Pahinui, in the C Major Tuning (C-G-E-G-C-E), on his album MARKETPLACE.
Slack-Key Medley (Hula Medley): Nani Wale Līhu’e /Ka ‘I’iwi Polena/Silver Threads Among the Gold/Nani Wale Līhu’e (march style)/Wai’alae (instrumental)
Tuning: F Wahine “Gabby’s F” (F-C-E-G-C-E)
Medleys have long been a favorite device for Slack Key guitarists to extend the flow of a good instrumental performance, and Gabby always put together great medleys (four of which can be heard on the recordings Hawaiian Slack Key –With Gabby Pahinui, Volumes I & II on Waikīkī Records 319 & 320: Slack Key Medley: Kuhio Bay/ Roselani/ Henderson’s March/ Koni Au I Ka Wai/ Hu’i E on # 319; and Slack Key Medley: Nalani/ Akahi/ Hoi/Hoi Mai, and Slack Key Medley: Kona Kai Opua/ Kila Kila/ Haleakala Hanohano Hanalei, and Medley: Moana Chimes/ Kaulana Napua/ Kuwili on # 320). Often, as in many of the songs he did, Gabby’s medleys became the definitive and standard way to play the songs. Here Gabby joins ballads, a march, and a waltz - all popular musical forms in late 19th century Hawai’i.
Gabby plays this medley in his F Wahine Tuning. This unique Wahine Tuning has the major 7th note, the E note, on both the first and fourth strings, and is now called “Gabby’s F”, since he was the first guitarist ever to record in it, and he was the one who played most prominently in it.
Gabby plays two verses of the first tune, a ballad version of Nani Wale Līhu’e composed in the 1870s by Prince Leleiōhoku (1854-1877), and co-written with a composer named Kamakau. Leleiōhoku was the younger brother to both King Kalākaua (1836 -1891) and his successor, and the last Hawaiian monarch, Queen Liliçuokalani (1838-1917), Hawai’i’s most beloved songwriter. The song praises the beauty of Līhu’e and other scenic places on the Island of Kaua’i, to convey a romance that happened by chance.
The second song is a short variation of part of the melody of the ballad Ka `I’iwi Polena, a love song from the 1800s, attributed to Hiram Kapoli, that uses the symbolic images of the Içiwi bird and the Lehua flower. Gabby also backed up singer Melveen Leed on Slack Key guitar for this song, on her 1980 album Melveen With The Best Of Slack Key (Lehua Records). In that version, using tape editing, he used the C Mauna Loa Tuning (C-G-E-G-A-E) for the first 2 verses, then his C Wahine Tuning (C-G-E-G-B-E), capoed up two frets to sound in the key of D for his instrumental solo, then back to the C Mauna Loa Tuning, capoed up one fret to sound in the key of C# for the last verse.
The third piece, Silver Threads Among the Gold, is an American song composed in 1873 by Hart Danks and Eben Rexford. Gabby plays it as a ballad, with a verse, chorus, and another verse. This song had also been recorded by the late Slack Key guitarist Leonard Kwan the previous year, 1960, for his album Slack Key (“The Red Album”) on Tradewinds Records 103, in his C Wahine tuning (C-G-D-G-B-D), and either he or Gabby may have influenced the other to play it. Like Gabby, Leonard was noted for his definitive medleys. Note Gabby’s beautiful rolls in this song, which he plays by strumming from the sixth to the first strings with his thumb and his index finger of his right hand, then strumming the other way, from the first to the sixth strings, while playing beautiful Mexican-sounding double-note thirds on the two highest pitched strings with his left hand. Gabby loved and was very inspired by Mexican music.
These first three songs are played solo in a rubato (slow, undefined) tempo, and this was the first time Gabby had recorded entirely solo since his 1946 version of Hula Medley.
These three songs are then followed by another verse of Nani Wale Līhu’e, played this time in Gabby’s signature march style in his F Wahine Tuning, with his thumb picking the bass part on the first and third beats of the measure on the sixth string, and the second and fourth beats on the fifth string, while Sonny Nicholas and Danny Stewart come in here on the bass and the çukulele.
When Henry Berger (1844-1929), who also had arranged this song as a march, was hired by Hawai’i’s King Kamehameha V to start the Royal Hawaiian Band in 1872, he brought with him the influence of European marches. This tradition continues to live in the repertoire of today’s Royal Hawaiian Band, as well as with steel guitarists and Slack Key guitarists - especially songs such as Hilo March and Kohala March. Another example of Gabby playing march-style in his F Wahine Tuning can be heard in the selection called Slack Key Medley with the songs Kuhio Bay, Roselani, Henderson’s March, Koni Au I Ka Wai, and Hu’i E, on the album Hawaiian Slack Key Vol I–With Gabby Pahinui (Waikīkī Records 319). Gabby also recorded Hoi Mai as part of Slack Key Medley: Nalani/Akahi/Hoi/Hoi Mai on the album Hawaiian Slack Key Volume 2 – With Gabby Pahinui (Waikīkī Records 320).
Arranging marches for guitar is a distinct part of the Slack Key tradition, and eleven other notable examples are:
Gabby Pahinui recorded Nani Wale Līhu’e in a march tempo as part of his Hula Medley, in his F Wahine Tuning
(F-C-E-G-C-E). He recorded it twice: In 1946, reissued on The History of Slack Key Guitar-Vintage Hawaiian Treasures, Volume 7 (Hana Ola Records 24000), and in 1961 on the album Pure Gabby (Hula Records 567).
Sonny Chillingworth also recorded this medley in the C Wahine Tuning (C-G-D-G-B-D) on his album Sonny Solo (Dancing Cat Records 38005), and Ray Kane also recorded it in 1975 in another C Wahine Tuning (C-G-D-G-B-E) with the title Nani Wale Lihu’e / Wai’alae/ Halona (Hula Medley), on his album The Legendary Ray Kane-Old Style Slack Key-The Complete Early Recordings (Hana Ola Records HOCD 52000).
c. Gabby Pahinui recorded a march medley called Slack Key Medley with the songs Kuhio Bay, Roselani, Henderson’s March, Koni Au I Ka Wai, and Hu’i E in his F Wahine Tuning (F-C-E-G-C-E), on his influential 1960 album, Hawaiian Slack Key, Volume 1–With Gabby Pahinui (Waikīkī Records 319).
3. Gabby Pahinui recorded Hoi Mai as part of Slack Key Medley: Nalani/Akahi Hoi/Hoi Mai on the album Hawaiian Slack Key Volume 2 – With Gabby Pahinui (Waikīkī Records 320).
d. Leonard Kwan recorded Aia Hiki Mai/Koni Au/Palisa in the D Wahine Tuning
(D-A-D-F# -A C#), on the early 1960s album Slack Key (also known as the “Black & White Album”, which also has tracks by Slack Key guitarist Ray Kane, on Tradewinds Records 106) – Leonard’s tracks from that album are reissued on Hana Ola Records HOCD 55000, with the title Two Leonard Kwan-Slack Key Master-The Complete Early Recordings.
e. Atta Isaacs and Gabby Pahinui recorded March Medley: Aia Hiki Mai/Haili Po Ika Lehua, on their 1969 album Two Slack Key Guitars (Tradewinds Records 1124), with Atta in his C Major Tuning (C-G-E-G-C-E), and Gabby Pahinui in his C Wahine Tuning (C-G-E-G-B-E).
f. Atta Isaacs recorded Kohala March in his C Major Tuning (C-G-E-G-C-E), on his 1971 album Atta (Tradewinds Records 1126 - (reissued as The Legendary Atta Isaacs-Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Master on Hana Ola Records HOCD 84000).
g. Atta Isaacs recorded Maikai Makani/ Kui Au (aka Maika’i Ka Makani ‘O Kohala/ Moani Ke Ala) in his C Major Tuning (C-G-E-G-C-E) with The New Hawaiian Band, on their 1975 album The New Hawaiian Band (Hana Ola Classic Collector Series, Volume 7 HOCD 12000 - formerly released on Trim Records in 1975 – this track has also been reissued on the album THE LEGENDARY ATTA ISAACS–HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY GUITAR MASTER (Hana Ola Records HOCD 84000).
h. Atta Isaacs recorded Hilo March in his C Major Tuning (C-G-E-G-C-E) with steel guitarist Jerry Byrd, on Jerry’s 1974 album STEEL GUITAR HAWAIIAN STYLE (Lehua Records 7023). This song is played in the keys of E, A, and D and Atta’s solo is in the key of D. This is a rare track featuring slack key guitar with acoustic steel guitar.
i. The Kahumoku Brothers (George and Moses) recorded Hilo March/Maui Chimes, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on their 1988 album Sweet and Sassy-Hawaiian Slack Key Stylings, Vol.1 (Kahumoku Farms Record Company KFRC-1010).
j. George Kuo recorded Wai`alae/Koni Au I Ka Wai, in the C Wahine Tuning (C-G-D-G-B-D), on his 1996 album he Aloha No Na Kupuna-Love for the Elders (Dancing Cat Records 38009).
k. George Kuo also recorded Hawaiian March Medley: Hilo March/Ainahau/Ka Makani O Kohala, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on his 1981 album Nahenahe (Hula Records 576).
l. Cyril Pahinui also recorded Kela Mea Whiffa / Hilo March in the D Major Tuning (D-A-D-F#-A-D) with acoustic steel guitarist Bob Brozman on their 1999 albumFour Hands Sweet and Hot (Dancing Cat Records 38048).
m. Led Kaapana recorded Hilo March and Kohala March as part of his Big Island Medley: Hilo March/Kohala March/San Antonio Rose/Yellow Bird, in the Standard Tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E) - Hilo March/Kohala March is played in the key of D (and San Antonio Rose is played in the key of G, and Yellow Bird is played in the key of C), on his album Four Still Pressin’ [with the group I Kona] (Kahale Music 2001).
14. Mika`ele Mike McClellan recorded Mallonee Slack Key March in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D) on his recording Four Some New Things ! Kī Ho’Alu: He Mau Mea Hou !
The last song in the medley, Wai’alae, is the beautiful waltz and popular standard written in 1898 by Mekia Kealakai (1867-1944), who led the Royal Hawaiian Band in the 1920s. It was probably adapted from a Mexican melody, and Mexican music was one of the influences on Hawaiian music in the 1800s. Gabby also recorded Wai’alae as a medley with the waltz Hālona in the key of D in the Standard Tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E) [GW CHECK TUNING] on the 1962 album Gabby Pahinui With the Sons of Hawai’i (Hula Records 503), and by itself in the C Mauna Loa Tuning (C-G-E-G-A-E) on the 1973 album The Rabbit Island Music Festival (Panini Records 1004).
Gabby’s 1946 version of Hula Medley (reissued on the recording The History of Slack Key Guitar on Hana Ola Records 24000) was different from this medley. For that recording, he used the three songs Nani Wale Līhu’e, Hālona, and Wai’alae. Gabby also played these in his F Wahine Tuning on that recording.
Other Slack Key guitarists who have recorded instrumental versions of Gabby’s Hula Medley (with Nani Wale Līhu’e, Hālona, and Wai’alae) include:
Sonny Chillingworth, in a C Wahine Tuning (C-G-D-G-B-D), on his 1994 album Sonny Solo (Dancing Cat Records).
Ray Kane, under the title Wai’alae – Hālona Medley (which also includes Nani Wale Līhu’e), in a different C Wahine Tuning (C-G-D-G-B-E), on his 1975 album Nanakuli’s Raymond Kane (Tradewinds Records 130 - reissued on CD on Hana Ola Records HOCD 52000, with the title The Legendary Ray Kane - Old Style Slack Key -The Complete Early Recordings), and a version to be released on his next album for Dancing Cat Records.
Leonard Kwan, in an F Wahine Tuning (C-F-C-G-C-E), where the three lowest strings are tuned differently from Gabby’s F Wahine Tuning (F-C-E-G-C-E), to be released on his next album on Dancing Cat Records.
Wai O Ke Aniani
Tuning: G Major “Taro Patch” (D-G-D-G-B-D), tuned down a half step to sound in the key of F#
Another of Gabby’s signature tunes, this traditional song is probably from the late 1800s, and it may have been adapted from an older song. First recorded by him in 1946 for Bell Records (reissued on The History of Slack Key Guitar on Hana Ola Records 24000), Wai O Ke Aniani (sometimes called Wai Hu’ihu’i O Ke Aniani) celebrates a ridge in Oçahu’s Moanalua Valley and the tingling cold waters (wai). Gabby drops some of the vocal verses that are often sung, leaving more room for pa’ani (instrumental breaks). The chorus again illustrates Gabby’s beautiful ka leo ki’eki’e (falsetto singing). In contrast to his younger, sweeter voice in the 1940s, here the timbre has darkened, giving him a very soulful and mature, much admired quality.
He also recorded Wai O Ke Aniani in the G Tuning in the 1950s on the album The Best of Hawaiian Slack Key With Gabby Pahinui (Waikīkī Records 340), and in 1972 on the album Gabby (“the Brown Album”)on Panini Records 1002, in his C Wahine Tuning (C-G-E-G-B-E). Notice here Gabby’s beautiful guitar phrases in the G Major Tuning in the introduction, at the end of each vocal verse, and in his two instrumental solo verses.
Other Slack Key guitarists who have recorded this song are:
Ray Kane, with vocals, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on his 1998 album Wa’ahila (Dancing Cat Records); and on his album Nanakuli’s Raymond Kane (Tradewinds Records 130 - reissued on CD on Hana Ola Records 52000, with the title The Legendary Ray Kane - Old Style Slack Key -The Complete Early Recordings). Ray learned this song from Gabby, and it has become a signature song for him as well.
George Kuo, as an instrumental medley with ‘Ahululi, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on his 1996 album Aloha No NĀ KŪpuna (Love For The Elders) (Dancing Cat Records).
Slack-Key Hula (Mauna Loa/Moana Chimes/Pua Be Still)
Tuning: G Major “Taro Patch” (D-G-D-G-B-D)
Although mele hula is a vocal art, which uses dance to convey a visual representation of the text, Slack Key guitarists love to adapt hula tunes and rhythms to purely instrumental use. Here, Gabby, continuing in the G Major Tuning, plays beautiful variations on three songs, including two popular hulas, Mauna Loa (see song #9) and a much faster than usual version of Pua Be Still, a haunting love ballad about the breezes of Kohala on the Big Island that was composed by falsetto legend Bill Ali’iloa Lincoln around 1940. Between the two hulas is his adaptation, in a fast Slack Key tempo, of Moana Chimes, a well known steel guitar standard from 1928 by the great pre-electric steel guitarist M.K. Moke. Gabby plays three verses of Mauna Loa, then two verses of Moana Chimes (here as a Slack Key guitar piece, and Gabby was a great electric steel guitarist also),, followed by two verses of Pua Be Still, one more verse again of Moana Chimes, and ends with one more verse again of Mauna Loa.
Gabby recorded a different version of Moana Chimes, in the C Mauna Loa Tuning (C-G-E-G-A-E), as a medley with the songs Kaulana Na Pua and Kuwili, on the 1960 album Hawaiian Slack Key, Volume II – With Gabby Pahinui (Waikīkī Records 320).
This medley, along with the previous song, Wai O Ke Aniani (song # 7), and the next song, Mauna Loa (song # 9), are a virtual encyclopedia of phrases and techniques in the G Major Tuning. Also notice Gabby’s whimsical retarding at the end, a way he often ended songs.
This instrumental Slack Key medley has also been recorded by:
Ozzie Kotani, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on his 1988 recording Classical Slack (Pacific Sound Design – out-of-print), and for a future album on Dancing Cat Records.
Other versions of Moana Chimes with Slack Key guitar have been recorded by:
Sonny Chillingworth, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on his album Endlessly (Dancing Cat Records), and on his 1964 album Waimea Cowboy (Lehua Records).
George Kuo, on Slack Key guitar, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), with Barney Isaacs on acoustic steel guitar, on their 1995 duet album Hawaiian Touch (Dancing Cat Records).
Led Kaapana, on Slack Key guitar, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), with Bob Brozman on acoustic steel guitar, on their 1997 duet album KĪkĀ Kila Meets KĪ HŌ ’alu (Dancing Cat Records).
Ray Kane, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on the early 1960s album Slack Key (the “Black & White Album”, which also has tracks by Slack Key guitarist Leonard Kwan, on Tradewinds Records 106) – Ray’s tracks are reissued on CD on Hana Ola Records 52000, with the title The Legendary Ray Kane - Old Style Slack Key -The Complete Early Recordings.
The original version by the composer, acoustic steel guitarist M.K. Moke, in High Bass G Tuning (G-B-D-G-B-D - tuned up one half step to sound in the key of A flat) from 1928 has been reissued on the album The History of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar (Hana Ola Records 34000).
Other instrumental Slack Key versions of Pua Be Still, as a ballad, include:
Keola Beamer, as a medley with Ku’u Lei ‘Awapuhi, in the F Wahine Tuning that Leonard Kwan often used (C-F-C-G-C-E), on his 1995 album Moe ‘uhane KĪkĀ (Tales Of The Dream Guitar) (Dancing Cat Records).
Led Kaapana, on Slack Key guitar in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), as a duet with steel guitarist Bob Brozman, on their 2001 album In The Saddle (Dancing Cat Records).
Mauna Loa (vocal)
Tuning: G Major “Taro Patch” (D-G-D-G-B-D, tuned down a half step to sound in the key of F#)
Gabby’s beautiful vocal performance of this standard, composed in the early 1900s by Helen Parker (who also composed the beautiful standard waltz Akaka Falls), tells a risqué tale of a spurned lover. This piece was another of Gabby’s best loved signature tunes. He performed and recorded it often. This recording again features his soulful ka leo ki’eki’e (falsetto singing) and was the most extended version he ever recorded. He also recorded it in the 1950s on the album The Best of Hawaiian Slack Key With Gabby Pahinui (Waikīkī Records 340). Mauna Loa was another of Gabby’s signature songs, as are most of the songs on this album. In fact, many of the songs Gabby recorded became signature songs and the definitive versions of those songs, as well as the standard way for many other Slack Key guitarists to play those pieces from then on. Gabby was truly one of the world’s greatest song interpreters of all time.
Another Slack Key version of this song with vocals has been recorded by:
Cyril Pahinui, in the C Major Tuning (C-G-E-G-C-E), on his 1998 album Night Moon (PŌ Mahina) (Dancing Cat Records).
Other Slack Key guitarists who have recorded this song as an instrumental include:
Leonard Kwan, in his F Wahine Tuning (C-F-C-G-C-E), on his 1995 album Keala’s Mele (Dancing Cat Records).
Ozzie Kotani, as part of a tribute medley to Gabby with ‘Ahulili and I Ka Pō Me Ke Ao, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on his 1995 album Kani KĪ Ho’alu (The Sound of Slack Key) (Dancing Cat Records).
Tuning: G Major “Taro Patch” (D-G-D-G-B-D), tuned down a half step to sound in the key of F#
Hawai’i’s cowboys, na paniolo, have always been actively involved in the Slack Key tradition, especially on the Big Island and on the Island of Maui (the Ni’ihau Slack Key guitarist Malaki Kanahele, who will have an album out in the future on Dancing Cat Records, also was a paniolo). This Maui favorite, composed by Scott Haçi probably in the early 1900s, takes us to the ranches near Kaupo where two suitors vie for the same woman. One, a paniolo, goes off to work faithfully. The other comes to visit the lady with a big bunch of freshly composed love songs. Which one will she choose? Gabby does beautiful ka leo ki’eki’e (falsetto singing), yodeling, and pa’ani (instrumental breaks) as always.
According to Gabby’s friend, the great singer and ‘ukulele player Clyde “Kindy” Sproat, people from different areas around the Islands would come together, often for days, to share special occasions and family celebrations. Plenty of music was played at these gatherings, and folks would take turns sharing “identification” songs about such things as their occupations, including paniolo, fisherman, stevedore (longshoreman), and more; and/or about the area where they lived. The folks from Kaupo would often sing ‘Ahulili, and Me Ka Nani A'o Kaupo (by Johnny Watkins), both of which allude to the prominent peak of Mauna Hape ("Happy Mountain"), an identifying feature of Kaupo. The town supported a thriving Hawaiian community for many years.
Kaupo means “night landing place”, and is thought to be a reference to canoe travel, which was once so fundamental to the area's way of life. Kaupo was a thriving Hawaiian settlement for close to a thousand years, but after Western civilization came, the population was greatly reduced in the second half of the 1800's. When the nearby Kaupo Ranch was established in the late 1920's, it brought new employment and activity to the area. Although the Kaupo Ranch is still in operation today, the town itself became almost completely deserted by World War II and has never been repopulated, and it is now one of the most remote areas in Hawai’i.
Many people continue to visit (and hike through) the remote area of Kaupo, which is located along the Hana Coast and on the way to the majestic peak of Haleakalā (which translates as "the house of the sun"). The great Slack Key guitarist, singer, and composer, Dennis Kamakahi said of 'Ahulili, in the liner notes of his 1996 Dancing Cat album Pua`ena (Glow brightly): “This is my favorite, because I was taken one time by the cowboys of Kaupo Ranch up to 'Ahulili. We rode up the horse trail and when you sing on horseback, boy, you really get the feeling for this song."
There is so very much to be learned about the Hawai'i of many years ago through the chants and songs that continue to be sung and perpetuated today. Place names (such as Mauna Hape and 'Ahulili) have deep meanings in Hawaiian song, on many levels, in many different contexts, and they can have different meaning for different people. Some are certain that the names of landmarks (such as some of the mountain peaks and cinder cones between Kaupo and Haleakalā) were given to star houses (constellations), and were included in navigational chants as memory cues, to aid ancient Hawaiian navigators in ocean travel.
Though today the coastline there is desert-like (partly due to the fact that the eastern slopes of Haleakalā block the clouds, preventing much moisture from reaching the area), it is thought that many years ago, the area was more green and lush. When driving around the remote coast of Kaupo, one can still see evidence of the stone formations remaining from centuries ago, and some of the old churches from over 150 years ago are still standing.
Notice the use of the English word “beauty” at the end of the second verse, which is sung twice after the first instrumental guitar break and once after the second guitar break. This is a technique which was sometimes used by Hawaiian composers in the late 1800s and the early 1900s for purposes of expression, humor, or playfulness, and sometimes to imply their command of the English language. One of the best known songs which also uses this is Kaula ‘Ili, where the English words “Oh Never Mind” are stated (see the Slack Key master Sonny Chillingworth’s version on his 1994 album Sonny solo on Dancing Cat Records).
Gabby also recorded it in the 1950s on the album The Best Of Hawaiian SLack Key – With Gabby Pahinui (Waikīkī 340).
Another Slack Key version of this song with vocals has been recorded by:
Dennis Kamakahi, in the C Mauna Loa Tuning (C-G-E-G-A-E), on his 1996 album Puaçena (Glow Brightly) (Dancing Cat Records).
Another Slack Key version of this song as an instrumental has been recorded by:
Ozzie Kotani, as part of a tribute medley to Gabby, with the songs Mauna Loa and I Ka Pō Me Ke Ao, in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D), on his 1995 album Kani Kī Ho’alu (The Sound of Slack Key) (Dancing Cat Records).
I Ka Pō Me Ke Ao (vocal)
Tuning: C Mauna Loa (C-G-E-G-A-E), tuned down a half step to sound in the key of B
Often translated as “night and day”, this Lena Salis and Vicky Silva classic, composed in the 1930s, makes reference to the high art of flirting with the eyes. Another standard that Gabby brought into the Slack Key repertoire, it was later recorded by Ray Kane in the G Major Tuning (D-G-D-G-B-D) on his 1994 album Punahele (Dancing Cat Records). These two tunings, the G Major Tuning and the C Mauna Loa Tuning , are very versatile and interchangeable––a song played in one is often played in the other by ano