Public Domain Hawaiian Songs

Copyrighted material needs to be licensed for commercial use (educational use is a wishful thinking grey-area). Since licensing is expensive and humbug, finding and teaching songs in the public domain in many cases makes more sense for a small-time ukulele instructor like myself.

Any song published before 1925 (as of 2021) is consider in the public domain – free to use without licensing.

As I’ve researched Hawaiian songs in the PD, I’ve been compiling a list of potential options. Since this hasn’t been documented well anywhere I can easily find, I figured I’d share my work for anybody who might find it useful.

These are just a first-pass look at what is most likely fair-game. I have not verified the publishing status of any of these songs. All my conclusions come mainly from He Mele Aloha and Huapala, along with some Google searches for obituary information. You should absolutely do more detailed research if you want to use a song commercially.

Hawaiian music publishing from the early 20th century is a total mess. Not all songs were well-documented and some businessmen and families found ways to copyright older songs again which has often pushed the copyright date out way further than the written or first-published dates.

Take this all with a grain of salt. I apologize for the terrible formatting but I can’t justify the time it would take to make it look nice.

If you have any additions or insight on the status of any of these tunes, please shoot me an email: brad@liveukulele.com

Adios Ke Aloha
Ahe Lau Makani
Ahi Wela
Aia Hiki Mai
Akahi Hoi
Aloha ʻOe
Aloha Ka Manini
Aloha Nō Wau I Ko Maka
Beautiful Kahana
Hāliʻilua
Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī
Hawaii Aloha
He Aloha Nō ʻO Honolulu
He Inoa No Kaʻiulani
Hiilawe
Hilo Hanakahi
Hilo One
Ho’okena – Lot Kauwē (d. 1922)
Hoʻonani I Ka Makua Mau
Hole Waimea
Honolulu I’m Coming Back Again
Hula O Makee – 1903
ʻAhulili
ʻĀinahau
ʻAkahi Hoʻi
ʻAlekoki
ʻĀlika
ʻAnapau
ʻImi Au Ke Aloha – Liliʻuokalani – Published 1916
ʻIniki Mālie – James Kahale – 1917
Iā ʻOe E Ka Lā E ʻAlohi Nei – Nāhinu – 1881
Iniki Malie?
Ka ʻAnoʻi – Kamealoha – Published 1897
Ka Makani Kāʻili Aloha – 1916
Ka Naʻi Aupuni – Samuel K. Kamakaia – Published 1897
Ka Wai Māpuna – Liliʻuokalani – 1876
Ka Wiliwiliwai – Liliʻuokalani
Kaʻahumanu – Helen Desha Beamer – 1916
Kaimana Hila
Kalama’ula – Hannah Dudoit – 1922
Kaleleonālani – Nuʻuanu – 1870s
Kalena Kai
Kamehameha Waltz – Charles E. King – 1915
Kanaka Waiwai – Johnny Alemeida? – 1915
Kananaka – Kauhailikua – 1915
Kāua I Ka Huahuaʻi – Leleiōhoku -1860
Kaula ‘Ili?
Kaulana Nā Pua – Ellen Wright Prendergast – 1893 (Copyrighted later?)
Ke Kaʻupu – Leleiōhoku – 1888
Ke Kali Nei Au (Hawaiian Wedding Song) – Charles E. King – 1925 – Published?
Keaukaha – Albert Nāhlaeʻā
Kilakila o Haleakala
Kilima Waltz
Koni Au I Ka Wai – Kalākaua (“Figgs”) – 1888
Kuʻu ʻIʻini – Charles E. King – 1921
Kuʻu Ipo I Ka Heʻe Puʻe One – Likelike
Kuʻu Lei Aloha – Charles E. King – 1925
Kuʻu Lei Poina ʻOle – Matthew H. Kane/Charles E. King – 1917
Kuʻu Pua I Paoakalani Liliʻuoklani 1895
Kupa Landing – Lot Kauwē – 1890s
Lanakila Kawaihau – Mekia Kealakaʻi – 1903
Latitū
Lēʻahi – Mary Pūlaʻa Robins – 1895
Lei No Kaʻiulani – John Edwards? – Published 1899
Mai Poina ʻOe Iaʻu – 1897
Maikaʻi Ka Makani O Kohala – William Sheldon – 1897
Makalapua – 1800s
Maui Girl – Sylvester Thomas Kalama – 1892
Maunaloa – Helen Lindsey Parker
Meleana e
Moanikeʻala – Leleiōhoku – 1888
Molokaʻi Nui A Hina – Matthew Kāne (d. 1920)
Molokaʻi Waltz – Matthew Kāne (d. 1920)
My Sweet Sweeting – J.K. Namoʻolau/Kalani Peters – 1908
Nā Hala O Naue – J. Kahinu – 1888
Nā Lei O Hawaiʻi – Charles E. King – 1915
Nā Moku ʻEha – J. Kealoha – 1920
Nani Haili Pō I Ka Lehua – Konia – 1888
Nani Kauaʻi – Lizzie ʻAlohikea – 1918
Nani Wale Līhuʻe – Leleiōhoku – 1897
Niu Haohao – Bina Mossman – 1924
Noho Paipai
Now Is the Hour – Maewa Kaihan – 1913
Old Plantation – Mary Jane Montano/David Nape – 1904
On the Beach at Waikiki – G.H. Stover/Henry Kailimai – 1915
Paʻahana – 1899
Pālolo – Charles E. King – 1917
Papalina Lahilahi
Pua Carnation – Charles E. King – 1916
Pua ʻIliahi – Bill Aliʻiloa Lincoln – 1897
Pua Līlia – Alfred U. Alohikea – 1916
Pua Mohala
Pua O Ka Mākāhala – Katie Stevens ʻĪʻī – 1916
Puʻuohulu – Eliza Haʻaheo Holt – 1897
Pulupē Nei ʻIli I Ke Anu – 1916
Pūpū Aʻo ʻEwa – 1870s
Queen’s Jubilee – Lili’uokalani – 1887
Queen’s Prayer/Ka Haku Ke Aloha – Lili’uokalani – 1895
Sanoe – Lili’uokalani – 1870s
Sassy – J.Kokolia/Solomon Hiram – 1890s
Sweet Lei Mamo – Charles Hopkins – Late 1800s
Tūtū – Liliʻuokalani – 1890s
Ua Like Nō A Like – Alice Everett – 1882
Ua Mau – 1880s
Ua Noho Au A Kupa – Edward Nainoa – 1890s
Uluhua Wale Au – Theresa Cartwright – 1898
Uluwehi ʻO Kaʻala – Kanihomauʻole – 1916
Wahīikaʻahuʻula – Ruth Lilikalani – 1923
Wai O Ke Aniani – 1897
Waiʻalae – Mekia Kealakaʻi – pre-1912

Soon to Enter PD (Next 10 Years)

Kuhio Bay – 1928
Lei ʻIlima by Charles E. King – 1926
Lei Nani – 1929
Maile Lauliʻi – 1928
Nā Aliʻi – 1928
Nāmolokama Lā – 1928
Royal Hawaiian Hotel – 1927

brad bordessa avatar About the author: Brad Bordessa I’m an ‘ukulele artist from Honoka’a, Hawai’i, where I run this site from an off-grid cabin in the jungle. I’ve taught workshops internationally, made Herb Ohta Jr. laugh until he cried, and once jammed with HAPA onstage in my boardshorts. More about me

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