Ke Mele a me ke Oli ~ Song and Chant

Sources:
Pukui, Mary Kawena & Elbert, Samuel H.,
Hawaiian Dictionary, Revised
and Enlarged Edition, University Of Hawai`i Press, Honolulu, 1986.

Mâmaka Kaiao, He Puke Hua`Ôlelo Hawai`i Hou, Hale Kuamo`o (The Hawaiian Language Center, UH, Hilo)-Kikowaena `Ôlelo Hawai`i-`Aha Pûnana Leo, Hilo,1996.
Pronunciation Guide

mele

Song, anthem, or chant of any kind; poem, poetry; to sing, chant (preceded by both ke and ka); vocal music.

oli

Chant, not danced to, especially with prolonged phrases chanted in one breath, often with a trill (`i`i ) at the end of each phrase.

hîmeni

Hymn, any song not used for hula. Transliterated from the English, hymn.

 

kaona

Hidden meaning, as in mele and oli; concealed reference, as to a person, thing or place; words with double meanings that might bring good or bad fortune.

No wai ke kaona o kêia mele?
Who is being referred to in veiled language in that song?

Kaona ho`o`ino`ino (pejorative innuendo).
For an example, learn the meaning of the words to Kaulana Nâ Pua.

 

Ka Po`e o Ka Mele / The People of Song

anaina

Audience.

haku mele

Composer, poet; to compose songs or chants.

In Hawaiian thinking, ka haku o ke mele (the owner of a song or a chant) is the one for whom it was composed (rather than the composer). Thus, the following distinction is made:

Kâna mele means "his/her song", that which is sung or composed BY that person. No ownership is implied.

Kona mele also means "his/her song", that which has been composed FOR that person. Ownership is understood.

ho`opa`a

Drummer and hula chanter. Lit., the memorizer.

ROOT WORDS:
ho`opa`a (to make pa`a (solid), memorize)

ka`i pu`ukani

Vocal coach.

ROOT WORDS:
ka`i (to lead) + pu`ukani (singer)

mea hîmeni

Singer of hymns or any song not used for hula.

Root words:
Mea (person, thing) + hîmeni (hymn, song)

mea oli

Chanter.

ROOT WORDS:
mea (person, thing) + oli (chant)

pu`ukani

 

Singer. Also used as an adjective: sweet-voiced as in singing; sweet-toned.

Root words:
pu`u (mound, throat) + kani (sound).

 

Ho`omele / To Sing

English uses the word, sing, in many contexts. Ka `Ôlelo Hawai`i is more context-specific, using different words for various modes of singing.

mele

To sing, to chant (preceded by both ke or ka). Ho`omele, to cause to sing or chant.

hîmeni

To sing hymns or any song not used for hula.

 hîmeni aku ka po`e hîmeni.
The singers sang.

memele

Plural of mele, to sing.

Nâ po`e memele.
The singers.

Eia nâ `ânela ke memele nei.
Here the angels sing.

hea

To sing or recite a name chant.

kani

To sing, as birds.

koihonua

To sing genealogical chants; to sing such chants; also, presto (in music, quick part).

hô`oma`oma

To pretend to sing; to work the mouth but not sing with others.

ha`iha`i

To sing with a breaking voice, a style of singing thusly; rising and falling of the voice; quavering.

Ma ka leo kauô, ho`ânu`unu`u, â ho`oha`iha`i .
With loud voice, vibrating, rising and falling.

kolekolea

To sing of the kâhuli, a land shell. Fig., a child that runs about wildly.

kani le`a

To sing cheerfully, as birds.

 

Kinds of Songs

mele

Song, anthem or chant of any kind; poem, poetry; to sing, chant.

mele ahiahi

Evening song, vesper.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + ahiahi (evening)

mele aupuni

Anthem.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + aupuni (government)

mele hai pule

Hymn, religious song.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + pule (prayer)

mele hapa haole

Hawaiian type song mostly in English words.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + hapa (part) + haole (white person, foreigner)

mele hô`ala

Awakening song.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + hô`ala (to awaken, to arise)

mele ho`âlohaloha

Serenade.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + âlohaloha (express love and affection)

mele ho`oipoipo

Love song.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + ho`oipoipo (wooing, making love)

mele ho`onânâkeiki

Lullaby.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + ho`onânâ (to soothe) + keiki (child/children)

mele inoa

Name chant, composed in honor of a person.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + inoa (name)

mele kâhea

Chant or song for admittance to a hula school.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + kâhea (to call, to cry out, to invoke)

mele ka`i

Chant or song sung while dancers come out before the audience; a procession song.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + ka`i (to lead)

mele ka`i ho`i

Chant or song sung while dancers leave the audience; a recession song.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + ho`i (return)

mele ka`i kaua

Battle song.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + ka`i (to lead) + kaua (war)

mele kani kau

Dirge, mourning song.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + kani (sound) + kau (chant, lamentations)

mele komo

Welcoming song.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + komo (to enter, join)

mele kuahu

Altar chant.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + kuahu (altar)

mele ma`i

Genitals song.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + ma`i (genitals)

mele `oli

Joyful song.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + oli (joy, happiness)

mele paikau

A march; marching song.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + paikau (march, drill, parade)

mele ukali hua kumu

Alphabet song, as one repeating the vowels.

ROOT WORDS:
mele + ukali (following) + hua kumu (basic letters)

 

Ka Leo / Voice

leo

Voice. Also means: tone, tune, melody, sound, command, advice, syllable, verbal message; to speak, to make a sound.

Kona leo = his/her voice

Kâna leo = his/her tune

leo kâne
leo uô
pako

Bass

ROOT WORDS:
kâne = male; = bellow, loud ;
pako, transliterated from English.

hâ`oi

Baritone

ROOT WORDS:
(breath) + `oi (sharp)

leo kâne ki`eki`e

Tenor

ROOT WORDS:
leo (voice) + kâne (male) + ki`eki`e (high)

`aeko, `aleko, leo waena

Alto

ROOT WORDS:
`aeko, `aleko, tranliterated from English;
leo (voice) + waena (in between)

leo wahine, kopolano

Soprano

ROOT WORDS:
leo (voice) + wahine (woman);
kopolano, transliterated from English.

leo ki`eki`e

Falsetto

ROOT WORDS:
leo (voice) + ki`eki`e (high)

 

Singing Terminology

`i`i

Admired deep, rasping sound in chanting; tremor (vibrato); guttural quality of some sounds, as back vowels or strongly aspirated "h".

hone

Sweet and soft, as music; sweetly appealing, as perfume or a memory of love; to sound softly.

nahenahe

Soft, sweet, melodious, as music or a gentle voice.

polinahe

Soft and gentle, as low music or a breeze.

ka hui maika`i `ana o nâ leo mele

Harmony

`ea, leo

Melody, tune

Key, pitch and clef

  • kî alaka`i

Keynote

ROOT WORDS:
(key) + alaka`i (leader)

  • kî, ki`ina o ka leo, kani

Pitch

ki`ina = voice intonation

  • ki`ina leo ki`eki`e

High pitch

ROOT WORDS:
ki`ina (voice intonation) + leo (voice) + ki`eki`e (high)

  • leo ha`aha`a

Low pitch

ROOT WORDS:
leo (voice) + ha`aha`a (low, humble)

hua kani

Tone

leo halulu

Deep tone

ROOT WORDS:
halulu = roar, thunder

leo lele puni

A musical interlude of a full tone.

ROOT WORDS:
leo (voice) + lele (leaping) + puni (desired)

leo nahenahe

Sweet voice

ROOT WORDS:
leo (voice) + nahenahe (sweet, melodious, mellow)

mâpuna leo

Wafted voice

ROOT WORDS:
mâpuna = bubbling spring

ho`oko`iko`i

Deepen the voice.

ROOT WORDS:
ho`o (to) + ko`iko`i (to stress, to weigh down)

`apo leo

Record the voice.

ROOT WORDS:
`apo (catch, grasp) + leo (voice)
 

`aha mele

Concert, song concert, song festival

ROOT WORDS:
`aha (gathering) + mele (song)

`aha mele maluhale

Indoor concert

ROOT WORDS:
`aha mele + malu (shade) + hale (house)

`aha mele kaupokulani

Outdoor concert

ROOT WORDS:
`aha mele + kaupoku (ridgepost) + lani (heaven)

 

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