Among vocal styles in Hawaiian music, falsetto — leo ki‘eki‘e–occupies a prominent position. Well, all vocal styles in Hawaiian music are important. But like anything else, some vocal styles are more prominent than others, ‘eā? Falsetto singing on its own is not distinctive to Hawaiian music; many world traditions incorporate falsetto singing into their practice. What IS distinctive to Hawaiian music, though, is the way that falsetto singing is thoroughly intertwined with Hawaiian song types AND an aesthetic that is indigenously Hawaiian.
This is not the time place to talk about the Hawaiian aesthetic. At least three or four scholars are working right this moment at articulating and inscribing verbally the logics of a Hawaiian aesthetic in Hawaiian music.
But this is the time–for my students in MUS 478B at least–to familiarize their ears with a range of falsetto singing across the decades. This listening list is only a sampler. Good heavens, any listener would have the earbuds in their ears for at least two days straight if I were to be comprehensive historically. Just can‘t do that. (Not yet?) So this list is a sampler. Which is as good as it gets.
And let‘s remember, too, that Harry B. Soria, Jr. produced a magnificent historical compilation on the Cord CD Legends of Falsetto (HanaOla HOCD-35000) that surveys folks from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Class: consider that CD to be assigned listening. Wong A/V Center at Sinclair has it. So does the iTunes Store–at $9.99 for the entire album of 22 tracks, you really cannot go wrong.
[In the interest of time, I have to post this immediately. Complete discographic information will be added, and when pau, this comment will disappear. 🙂 ]
- Waikiki Stonewall Boys. “Hanohano Hawaii.” Columbia 1581-D, 1928. Reissued on The Great Singers 1928-1934 (Rounder Records 1053, 197x/R1989). Rockwell identifies the singer as Joseph Kawehi Punahele.
- Madame Riviere‘s Hawaiians (Rose & Tau Moe). “Paahaa.” Regal 67218, Columbia 40005-D, 1929. Reissued on The Great Singers 1928-1934 (Rounder Records 1053, 197x/R1989).
- Kalama‘s Quartet. “Lei E.” Hmm–Folklyric’s liner notes identify this as Victor 22946; Rockwell identifies this as Okeh 41285, 1929. Reissued on The Great Singers 1928-1934 (Rounder Records 1053, 197x/R1989) and on Kalama’s Quartet: Early Hawaiian Classics 1927-1932 (Folklyric 7028, 197x/R1993).
- Andy Cummings & His Hawaiian Serenaders. “Kaua‘i Beauty.” Bell LKS 217, 1948? Reissued on Andy Cummings & His Hawaiian Serenaders, The Wandering Troubadors (HanaOla HOCD 65000, 2004).
- George Kainapau. “Blue Lei.” Decca 27658, 1950. Also George Kainapau, Your Musical Holiday (Decca DL-8138, 195x.
- Joe Keawe & The Lei Momi Sweethearts. “Na Ka Pueo” 49th State 45-052, ca. 1950s.
- Kai Davis. “Niihau.” Souvenir Songs of Hawaii Vol. 22 (49th State 3222), ca. 1950s. Reissued on Mele Hula Hawaiian Style (Vintage Hawaiian Treasures Vol. 4) (HanaOla HOCD 2000, 1994), and Legends of Falsetto (HanaOla HOCD 35000, 200x).
- Bill Ali‘iloa Lincoln. “Ku‘u Milimili.” Bell LKS 148 (1946?). Reissued on Legends of Falsetto (HanaOla HOCD 35000, 200x)
- Ho‘opi‘i Brothers. “Ho‘okipa Paka.” No Ka ‘Oi (Poki SP-9006, 1975). Reissued on Nā Mele Henoheno (Poki SP-9056, 1996).
- Kekua Fernandes. “He U‘i.” Straight from Hawaii to You (South Seas SS-1001, 1977)
- Tony Conjugacion. “Ka Beauty A‘o Mānoa” Hawaiian Passion (Kahanu KHR-1003, 1985)
- Sam Bernard. “Punalu‘u.” Māhie Pālua (Kahanu KHR-1026, 1987)
- Dennis Pavao. “Lahela Ku‘u Poki‘i.” Ka Leo Ki‘eki‘e (Poki SP-9042, 1986). Reissued on Nā Mele Henoheno (Poki SP-9050, 1992), and Aloha Festivals Falsetto Contest Winners, Vol. 8 (Hula HS-647, 2007).
- Ledward Kaapana and the new Ikona. “I Kona.” Ledward Kaapana and the New Ikona (Kahale KMI-2201, 1991).
- Keali‘i Reichel. “Pua Mikinolia.” Kawaipunahele (Punahele PP-001, 1994)
- Cody Pueo Pata. “Moanalua.” E Ho’i Nā Wai (Ululoa UL-103, 2001)
- Bill Wynne. “Ku‘u Ipo Ku‘u Aloha Poina ‘Ole (Ida’s Hula).” Aloha Festivals 7 Hawaiian Falsetto Contest Winners (Hula HS-645, 2006)
- Nā Palapalai. “Pua Be Still.” Makani ‘Olu‘olu (Koops2 KPSE-1002, 2002)
Discography information here owes a tremendous debt to Malcolm Rockwellʻs magisterial and award-winning volume Hawaiian and Hawaiian Guitar Records 1891-1960 (Kula: Mahina Piha Press, 2007). Go to http://78data.com to check out availability.