In Hawaiʻi, each island has a host of songs they call their own about places and people. What island you’re from usually impacts your repertoire quite a bit. Here’s one of Maui’s most beloved tunes called “Haleakalā Hula.” This song is about Maui’s highest mountain, Haleakalā, which is 10,023 feet tall.
In the summer of 2012, while I was in the Institute of Hawaiian Music on Maui, my cohort took a Hawaiian music through hula class. We were pretty hopeless dancers for the most part, but we had fun and learned this song which is why I feel a fond connection to it and still play it at performances.
This tune is written in a very traditional verse-verse-verse style with easy chords. This means the chord progression repeats for every verse and all that changes are the words. Each verse speaks of a different piece of Haleakalā’a beauty.
Because of this fairly dry song structure, it’s standard in Hawaiian music to add a Hawaiian vamp in between each verse. Just strum D7 for two beats, G7 for two beats, and C for two beats. This helps break the song into chunks and differentiate the parts.
Translation available on Huapala.
Free PDF Version
C F C Kuahiwi nani ʻoe Haleakalā G7 C Kaulana hoʻi ʻoe kū kilakila C F C ʻO Makawao ia ua kaulana G7 C I kāohi ia iho o ka lāʻau C F C He ʻūkiu e ka ua o ka ʻāina G7 C Me ka makani aheahe ʻoluʻolu C F C E aho no ʻoe a e komo mai G7 C A e hoʻolaʻi ka malu o ke ao C F C Puana ka inoa i lohe ʻia G7 C Kuahiwi nani ʻoe Haleakalā