Finding Aids for Hawaiian Songs

The growth of the internet has made a wealth of resources available online. If you are looking for specific Hawaiian songs, here are sources to find lyrics, hear tunes, or identify books or recordings that contain the song/s you are looking for.

Lyrics: The first stop for anyone is unquestionably Huapala Hawaiian Music and Hula Archives.  The site was established in 1997 by Kaiulani Kanoa-Martin. There are hundreds of Hawaiian-language song lyrics and English translations now amassed on this important site. It is run as a labor of love, under the umbrella of Huapala Archives, a non-profit tax exempt organization that deserves our support. That said, a project of this scope does not come together without errors inadvertently creeping in. Users should always take care to cross check information from this site with other sources.

LyricsHapa Haole Songs: Lyrics to Hawaiian songs written in English 1916-1978. The title explains what this site is. There are also some good essays and lots of images.

TunesHe Mele Aloha (& Others) Hawaiian Melodies Reference Collection. This site contains MIDI recordings of the tunes for Hawaiian songs in many of the major songbooks—including the two collections of lyrics widely used for kani ka pila—He Mele Aloha and Nā Mele o Hawai‘i Nei: 101 Hawaiian Songs.  Since many Hawaiian music fans do not read music notation, and some popular song collections—like He Mele Aloha only contain lyrics, this site is an incredible resource to hear and learn the tunes. Mahalo nui loa to composer-pianist Robert Mondoy!

Song-finding aidBrett Ortoneʻs The Island Music Source Book, published in 1999, is an index of Hawaiian songs and musicians on recordings. It is now fully searchable on the MELE (Music and Entertainment Learning Experience) Archives, hosted by the Ulukau Hawaiian Electronic Library. You can even browse by record label. WOW!!

Song-finding aid: Amy Stillmanʻs indexes of published songs and published chants, hosted by the University of Hawai‘i Library’s Hawaiian Collection, is fully searchable at: http://www.useapencil.org/aks/songs_search.php This source will not give you lyrics, but it can tell you what songbook you can look in to find published presentations of Hawaiian songs and chants.

Images: hulapages.com—Hawaiian and Tropical Vintage Sheet Music Image Archives. Collector Keith Emmons generously shares thumbnail photographs from his immense sheet music collection, arranged chronologically by year of publication beginning in 1872. There is an index of musicians and songwriters, and even information on the artists who designed many of the covers.

Mele research: any serious researcher makes use of the treasures housed in Bishop Museum Archives. The online Mele Index catalog will only tell you if the item you are looking for is in their collections. You still have to go to the Museum to actually see the source/s, or pay a research to do so for you. The direct link to the Bishop Museum Archives Catalog (http://bishopmuseumarc.lib.hawaii.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&PAGE=First) takes you to a search page where you can type in a search term.  If you are searching for mele, be sure you select “Mele Index (Chants & Songs)” in the selection limits box immediately below the search term box.

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2 Responses to Finding Aids for Hawaiian Songs

  1. Pili says:

    Aloha Amy,

    Fantastic post as always. I’m really enjoying your blog! Sorry I can’t comment every time, but I’m trying to take it easy on the carpal tunnel.

    Some of these resources are new to me but I’m bookmarking them right now.

    Mahalo ā nui loa,
    Pili

  2. amykstillman says:

    mahalo Pili! Iʻm glad youʻre discovering useful new things. Please feel free to post or send in questions or suggestions.
    naʻu no,
    amy k.

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