Looking 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.

Hoʻomau Mele. A site “dedicated to becoming your hub for traditional Hawaiian songs, contemporary Hawaiian songs mostly in the Hawaiian Language and Hapa Hoale [sic] Songs.” This site functions as a search portal. Put in a term or song title and it will return results for finding lyrics, tablature, videos

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 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.

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!!  Bonus: Click here to read an interview with Brett Ortone discussing the making of The Island Music Source Book.

Published Songbooks: At the site “Hawaiian Music and Hula Bibliography of Printed Sources,” the “Songbooks” menu option (in the menu on the banner) brings up links to several pages with pictorial listings of songbooks with notation, books of lyrics, etc. (The “etc.” pages are works in progress; there are other sites with far deeper historical coverage I will list below.)

Published Songbooks: At the M.E.L.E. Hawaiian Music Archive on Ulukau, the “Books” page contains links to scanned copies of 19th-century Hawaiian-language imprints of mele.

Published Songbooks for ‘Ukulele:  The Reference Desk page of the Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum has links to pictures of ʻukulele methods books and sheet music.

Published Songbooks for Steel Guitar:  Hmm. I gotta work on this one. Either that or my memory is playing tricks on me.

Published Songbooks for Kī Hō’alu / Slack Key Guitar:  The Taropatch.net Forum has a section “Learn” that includes a list of books and instructional videotapes / DVDs. It is not completely up to date; Peter Medeirosʻ monumental Hawaiian Slack Key: A Lifetime of Study Vol. 1 is not there. And Amazon.com is taking pre-orders for Russell Letsonʻs book.

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.


6 Responses to Looking for Hawaiian Songs?

  1. Pingback: New Links Pages and Essays | Hawaiian Music for Listening Pleasure

  2. Pingback: ‘Ike Kumu (Sources of Knowledge) — Kulia i ka Punawai Hula Camp 2013 | Hawaiian Music for Listening Pleasure

  3. Patty Lemapu says:

    Female vocalist remix of maunaleo can’t find and don’t know her name . Can u give me some options?

    • amykstillman says:

      HI Patty — Check out the group “Auntie Wandaʻs Mele Monday” on Facebook. There is a HUGE community of super fans there, and many know YouTube inside out!! Good luck!

  4. Leilani's Keeper says:

    Looking for the name and artist of this song that goes something like “kane kane kane” at the beginning, then, for the chorus, I think, it goes, “Oo la la lae, oo la la lae oo” (yodel or yodel like) and there is something about malihini in the song, too. It’s sung by a male artist. I can’t remember how the entire song goes or the name of it. Can anyone help? I am not sure I can find this through a lyrics search since I can’t remember much of the lyrics anymore.

    • amykstillman says:

      Hi there: My guess from your description is that you are looking for the song “Kupa Landing” by the Hoʻopiʻi Brothers (Rick & Sol), which Rick Hoʻopiʻi recorded on solo CD projects as well.

      Here are the brothers: https://youtu.be/nyuq5hCVoBw

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