Take 5: Hawaiian War Chant / Kāua i ka Huahua’i

Actually 1 Take today. But more to follow.

Here are several facts.

  1. “Kāua i ka Huahua’i” is understood to be a love song by Prince William Pitt Leleiohoku.
  2. The earliest known printed version of the songʻs lyrics is in the book Ka Buke Mele o Na Himeni Hawaii, compiled by Edward C. Holstein and published by the Hawaiian News Co. in 1897. [This volume was reprinted in facsimile by Bishop Museum Press in 2003.]
  3. The earliest known printed sheet music notation is by Bergstrom Music Co. in Honolulu. The copyright date on the sheet is 1903.
  4. The earliest identified sound recording at this writing is by the William Ellis Glee Club, on the Victor Records label, and dated 1904. I have not heard this recording, and queries to record collectors so far have been fruitless.
  5. The earliest recording of this song that I have heard dates from 1913, by the Hawaiian Quintette. Walter Kolomoku is identified as the vocalist. Released on Victor Records (65339), the recording is now accessible on the Library of Congressʻ National Jukebox. Here is a link:
Screen Shot 2014-01-11 at 9.24.39 PM

The National Jukebox at http://www.loc.gov/jukebox

http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/3241

Note three observations:

  1. The tempo is not wedding-march slow. It is uptempo.
  2. The verses and the chorus share the same melody.
  3. The “Auē kāua” [or “Auē ta-ha-u-a-la”] refrain is not present. That gets added when the song is repackaged as “Hawaiian War Chant.”

There is another recording, from 1916, featuring a duet by Horace Wright and Rene Deitrich. Aside from the fact that their names do not sound Hawaiian, I donʻt know anything about these singers. But interestingly they also recorded songs like “Pua Mohala” and “Lei Aloha” with Hawaiian-sounding pronunciation (albeit without ʻokina-s). “Kāua i ka Huahua’i” is the first song in a medley of three songs. They only sing the first verse. The ʻukulele strumming is at the same tempo as what follows: “My Hawaiian Maid.” “My Honolulu Tom Boy,” and a repeat of the first verse of “Kāua i ka Huahua’i.”

Listen here:  http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/5189

Many people presume that Palani Vaughanʻs 1970 recording of the song as a slow ballad represents the “original” conception of the song. These two recordings from The National Jukebox from 1913 and 1916 testify to an uptempo singing of the song.

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One Response to Take 5: Hawaiian War Chant / Kāua i ka Huahua’i

  1. Anne says:

    An enthusiastic love song! Your historical documentation is so important to our understanding! I’ll ask my cousin if he can help locate that 1904 Victor Records – he’s a collector of early phonographs and recordings, and even has cylinders and is a savant about early American music.

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