Category Archives: ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i

Back On (The) Board

hokuAfter a two and a half year long respite from the Board of Governors of the Hawai‘i Academy of Recording Arts, I’m back. Or at least I will be back officially after the swearing-in ceremony at the General Membership meeting. Mahalo to the current members of the board for accepting my offer to step back in and fill a vacant seat on the board. The General Membership meeting will be held on November 11, 2015 at Island Sound Studios in Hawai‘i Kai. I hope to see many members there. Please contact the HARA office for more information by calling (808) 593-9424 or emailing info@nahokuhanohano.org for more information.

One of the responsibilities I happily undertook during my previous time on the board – and will again – was handling the production of a newsletter, updating of the website and social media presences, and being a point of contact for members with questions or concerns about the organization, the awards, and entry process. So if anyone has anything to ask, feel free to contact me. I can’t respond in an official capacity until after November 11, but hopefully can provide some answers or insight.

I like to believe that musicians put out recordings as artistic expression as well as a means to support themselves and their families. The Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards and other such programs play a significant role in gaining exposure and (hopefully) sales. Understanding that, it is surprising when I’m contacted by industry professionals who don’t understand the awards, its entry requirements and guidelines. Please educate yourself. Know the time frame in which your recording must be released in order to be eligible for entry. Know the deadline by which your release must be entered. Know the criteria that determine the category or categories for which your recording is eligible. And if this is not clear – ASK!

Examples: If you want to have a recording entered in the “Hawaiian Album of the Year” category, know that 75% of the tracks must be in the Hawaiian language. Most genre categories have a 75% quantum. Know that if you are a mainland member, your releases are only eligible to be entered in the Hawaiian, Slack Key, Island Music, ‘Ukulele, Haku Mele, and Hawaiian Language Performance categories. Know that by rule all Christmas themed releases must be entered in the Christmas category. So if you live on the mainland and record a Hawaiian Christmas CD, it is not eligible to be entered in the awards. Anywhere. These are just a few examples. Yes it is complicated, and this is why it is behooves everyone to inquire and be informed.

I doubt that many of us really want to consider these things when recording and preparing a release. We don’t want these kinds of considerations to influence our art. But ignore these guidelines at your own peril. During my prior stint on the board, I spoke to many members who were upset at not being able to enter recordings in the categories that they wanted. But they should have considered these factors before finalizing the release.

Submission Forms and Ch…Ch…Changes

The submission guidelines, downloadable submission form and an online submission form for the 2016 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards are now available on the awards website. Please note some recent and important changes:

EP (Extended Play) Releases. The board changed the criteria for Extended Play releases. Previously the criteria included both a minimum and maximum number of tracks, as well as a maximum to play time (less than 30 minutes). Now, the criteria simply states that it must have more than 3 (three) tracks (read: a minimum of 4 tracks) and no more than 8 (eight). There is no maximum playtime. Important note: Since the Single category stipulates that a Single release can have only one or two songs, releases that have 3 (three) tracks cannot be entered in Single nor as EP releases.

Genre Categories. Releases entered in any of the genre categories must now contain 75% newly-recorded or previously unreleased material by the artist to qualify for submission. Anthologies, as albums of previously released material, are the only exception. The Anthology category stipulates that least 75% of the album must have previously released material from at least two (2) different releases.

Slack Key. The board and selection committee have refined the criteria for the Slack Key category. Here is the new language:

“Slack Key Guitar or Ki Ho‘alu Kika is a uniquely Hawaiian approach to guitar playing that is unlike any other guitar style in the world. It gets its name from the way the guitar is tuned – some of the strings are loosened or slacked. It is usually characterized as having an alternating bass line while the melody is plucked on the higher pitched strings.

Techniques and ornamentations include slides, pull-offs, add-ons, hammers, slurs, and harmonics (sometimes referred to as chimes). The music sometimes reflects hula rhythms and is characterized by turnarounds or “vamps”, phrases, and chordal structure of the compositions. Just playing in an alternate tuning does NOT make it slack key. It’s the dedication to the bass in support of the melody that differentiates it.”

In my opinion, there are many recent slack key releases that have begun to wander further and further from the foundations of slack key, incorporating more and more non-Hawaiian influences, and some are becoming indistinguishable from other folk, “world music” and Americana acoustic guitar recordings. Artists are certainly free to do so and call their releases “slack key” if they like. But the Academy – for the purposes of the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards – has chosen to require a closer adherence to the peformance characteristics that make eligible recordings more idenitfiably “slack key.” This decision was made prior to my return to the board, but I support it.

Haku Mele. There is a limit on the number of composers/composition teams that may be entered from any single release: one (1) composition per composer per release is permitted. Compositions co-written with one or more composers may be submitted up to a total of three (3) distinct composer(s)/composer groups per release. This change was implemented last year for the 2015 awards, but it is worth reiterating here.

Deadline For Entries. Friday, January 15, 2016 by 4:00 p.m. All submission forms and deposit material (CDs, DVDs, lyric/translation copies; and for online digital releases only: track sheets, credit listings and cover art) must be received at the HARA office by the deadline, without exception.

Please feel free to visit these pages and read my previous ruminations on the Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards, and if you have questions – ask!

More Information

The Origins of Hawaiian Language Support in Mac OS and iOS: So You Want To Change The World?

BryanFryeOnly a handful of my friends will recognize the gentleman standing in the back of this picture, Brian Frye. He is one of the unsung heroes of getting technology support for ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i to where it is today. I’ve told this story to some folks privately, but never shared it publicly before. Since he’s not at Apple anymore, it’s safe to do so.

Brian was an Apple support engineer for Hawai‘i in the mid-late 1990s. During his time here we became friends, and he tried to help me find the individuals who could assist us in getting support for the Hawaiian language into Mac OS, but with little luck. He returned to work at Apple’s at headquarters after that. One day he was walking through the hallways of Apple’s headquarters, passed a couple of people talking in the hallway, and overheard one say to the other, “what other languages don’t we support?” Turns out they were system engineers working on language support in OS X. He stopped, introduced himself and said “there is a guy in Hawai‘i you need to talk to.” Me. The connection was made, and 18 months or so of email exchanges, swapped files, and testing followed. On August 24, 2002, Mac OS 10.2 shipped, and in it were a Hawaiian keyboard, sorting routines and some translated strings (mostly date and time related).

The fact that iOS’s core software was largely based on OS X meant that a lot of support for Hawaiian that is baked into OS X transferred to iOS. Brian had left Apple by then, but the connections he helped forge remained, and we were able to get them to add the ability to type the ‘okina and kahakō, and eventually a Hawaiian keyboard in iOS. Other friends have helped along the way, but as they are still at Apple it is best if I don’t name names here. But none of it would have happened if not for that chance meeting in Cupertino. Mahalo nui, Brian. If any of you have ever typed an ‘okina or kahakō on any Apple device, you should mahalo him as well. And mahalo Beryl Morimoto for sharing the pic.

Pipi holo ka‘ao…

He Ahupuaʻa Ke Mele

“Ke Ahupuaʻa” by Mele McPherson.

“Ke Ahupuaʻa” by Mele McPherson.

I was thrilled to have my paper, entitled “He Ahupuaʻa Ke Mele: The Ahupuaʻa Land Division as a Conceptual Metaphor for Hawaiian Language Composition and Vocal Performance”, published in the journal Ethnomusicology Reivew today. I started it over five and a half years ago in a single 10 hour (or so) writing binge that started at about 2 A.M. on a cold morning in Dunedin, N.Z. After many revisions and much restructuring, and trying to weave western academic theory with a Hawaiian conceptual model (the ahupua‘a) it was finally ready to see the light of day.

Mahalo palena ‘ole to everyone who contributed their mana‘o and support doing this long process, and to the editors of Ethnomusicology Review for feeling it worthy of publication..

“HI” Fonts on Newer Versions of Mac OS

MacFontsI occasionally get emails from folks telling me that the old “Papa Pihi HI” for “HI” fonts no longer works on more recent versions of Mac OS X. While I’ve always encouraged folks to abandon those fonts and use the “Hawaiian” keyboard and Unicode fonts built into Mac OS X, sometimes there are valid reasons for using the old fonts.

A few years ago the format for keyboard layout resources changed. The old format is actually a remnant of the pre-OS X operating systems. The new keyboard layouts are XML based, and I created one of these kinds of keyboard layouts a few years ago. Feel free to download and install it. You need to unzip the file, put it in /Library/Keyboard Layouts/, and either logout of your account or restart the computer. Then go into System Preferences -> International (or Language and Text, depending on the version of OS X), and select Input Source, scroll down and select “Papa Pihi HI”.

Please visit my page on Hawaiian language support in Mac OS to read more, and to download the new XML based “Papa Pihi HI”.

Aloha Keauhou In “Song of the Year” and “Single of the Year” for 2103 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards

AlohaKeauhou“Aloha Keauhou”, with music by Kenneth Makuakāne and lyrics by yours truly, is on the preliminary ballot for the 2013 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards in the Single of the Year Category and Song of the Year. We originally composed it for the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest in 2012, and Kenneth re-recorded it for the CD “Ho‘ōla Lāhui, Ho‘oulu Pae‘āina”, released last year. The senior girls won the women’s division of the competition with their performance, and tied for first with their language use. You can listen to the recording on my page for “Aloha Keauhou”, which includes a lot of the story behind the composition, and links to the video of the senior girls’ performance.

HARA voters, I hope you will give it a listen, and if you believe it is worthy, please consider including it in your five choices for Song of the Year and Single of the Year. Mahalo!

Visual Basic Scripts Back In Word 2011 For Mac

For whatever reason, I never did warm up to MS Word 2007 for Mac, and continued to use Word 2004 until recently. When I received my new MacBookPro 13′, I decided to abandon Office 2004 and make the leap to Office 2011. I’m glad I did, and just noticed something pretty cool. The ability to run Visual Basic macros-removed from Office 2007–is back. This means that the VB macros I originally wrote to convert documents written in our old HI font system to Unicode work again. So if you happen to have older documents that have Hawaiian text in the HI format, you can easiliy convert them to Unicode. While probably less useful, there is also a macro that converts Unicode-formatted Hawaiian back to HI font format.

And of course if you don’t know what any of this means, it probably doesn’t affect you. Please ignore.

New Windows 8 Operating System Supports The Hawaiian Language


While still a devout Macintosh user, I’m extremely grateful for friends at Microsoft who shepherded this project through to completion, and saw that the work we did stayed embedded as Windows 8 was being developed. I’ll be documenting how to activate the keyboard and type the ‘okina and kahakō later, but if you have Win 8, please feel free to explore and experiment.

And I would like to ask my fellow Macintosh aficionados to refrain from the normal litany of Windows bashing. This is significant development for the language that will help other important projects move forward.

I’m cautiously optimistic that this will be my swan song when it comes to technology and the Hawaiian language. This PR piece went out today from the UH media office.

Kahului, HI — November 8, 2012 — In a major step forward in promoting and perpetuating the Native Hawaiian language, Microsoft’s recent launch of Windows 8 includes support for the Hawaiian language, thanks to a collaborative effort with University of Hawaiʻi faculty.

The Windows 8 operating software includes a Hawaiian keyboard layout in the operating system, many fonts containing the diacritical marks used in the Hawaiian language, and other localized resources such as the ability toshow days of the week and months in Hawaiian.  This development was made possible by the joint efforts of staff of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Microsoft.

Keola Donaghy, formerly of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani and now a faculty member in the music department of University of Hawai‘i Maui College, collaborated with programmers in Microsoft’s Local Languages Program for several years to develop these resources and see that they were included inWindows 8. “We’re getting very close to the day that Hawaiian speakers will be able to take for granted the fact that they can simply type in Hawaiian when they buy a new computer, tablet, or smart phone without installing special software,” Donaghy said.

“Providing technology support in a native language is critical to helping people access the tools they need to create better economic opportunities,” said Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education for Microsoft.  “Language preservation and support also helps preserve cultural identities for the next generation of learners.”

Keiki Kawae‘ae‘a, a faculty member of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani added, “We are thrilled that Microsoft has recognized the significance of the Hawaiian language to its people, and how important it is for us to be able to use it on our computers. Given the high percentage of personal computers that ship with and run the Windows operating system, this is one of the most significant developments that we’ve made.”

Language support for computer operating systems and programs has historically depended on the number of speakers of the language and perceived market. Major European and Asian languages have been widely supported by software vendors for many years, while speakers of native American, Polynesian, and other indigenous languages have had to depend on customized fonts and keyboards simply to be able to view, type and print the characters used in their languages on personal computers.

However, in recent years major operating system and software vendors such as Microsoft, Google, and Apple Computer, Inc. have recognized the importance of supporting a wider array of languages.

Memories Of Kamehameha Schools’ Song Contest, 2012

On the evening of March 16, 2012, my wife and I traveled to Honolulu to attend the 92nd annual Kamehameha Schools Song Contest which was held that evening at the Neil Blaisdell Center. It was a night that Kenneth Makuakāne and I and our families had looked forward to for over four months. Back in the fall of last year, we had been asked to contribute a composition for this year’s song contest. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of Kamehameha Schools. The theme of this year’s contest was “Ho‘ōla Lāhui, Ho‘oulu Pae ‘Āina — Vibrant People, Thriving Lands”. Ten composers and composer teams were asked to create new mele that honor significant parcels of land that comprise the Bishop Estate. Some of them help fund the Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop’ vision, and other are rich cultural resources.

Kenneth and I were asked to compose a new mele for Keauhou, Ka‘ū, on Hawai‘i island. This is a different area than Keauhou, Kona. It is situated just on the border between Ka‘ū and Puna, on the Ka‘u side of the entrance to Volcanoes National Park. I was aware of the place, but had no idea of the work that Kamehameha Schools is engaged in there. Previously, large sections of the ahupua‘a were covered with koa trees. Many years ago, many of the koa trees were felled, and subsequently much of the land was leased for grazing. The school later bought back the leases and began reforestation efforts. We were invited to spend a day in Keauhou, and because of work commitments we were unable to visit Keauhou together. We did visit on separate dates, and subsequently shared our experiences. We were both amazed at the efforts being made to reestablish the koa forests, keep out invasive plants and animals, and how dedicated the staff were to their task.

Over the course of the next two months we worked on the mele, sharing concepts, words, melodies, and verses, using the telephone, Skype, emails, instant messages, and occasionally (!) working face to face. The mele essentially documented the day of our first impressions, our experiences, and our hopes for Keauhou. As the group I traveled with moved through the ahupua‘a, we were followed by ‘io (hawks) that watched our every move. When cautiously entered the Kīlauea Forest Preseve (an area that escaped deforestation and remains a pristine habitat), we were observed by the ‘elepaio birds of the forest. I watch as one flew by me and missed my head by only about a foot. All of these experiences became part of the mele “Aloha Keauhou”.

In December, the mele and melody were complete, and turned over to Randie Fong at KS. Our understanding was that one of their regular arrangers would create the vocal arrangments for the students. Shortly thereafter they contacted Kenenth and asked if he would do the arrangment himself. I helped him by formatting the charts in Finale, but otherwise the arrangements were all his. Shortly thereafter, Randie informed Kenneth that the senior girls would be performing our mele.

We arrived at Blaisdell Arena on the evening of March 16 and met the other composers. I had heard that Kellen and Līhau Hannahs, Dennis Kamakahi and Keawe and Tracie Lopes were some of the composers, but didn’t know who else had been asked to contribute mele. Manu Boyd, Carlos Andrade, Ke‘ala Kwan, Nālani Choy, Kama Hopkins were the others. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized I was the only composer there that wasn’t a graduate of Kamehameha. Of course Kenneth is a KS gradute, and since we collaborate together so frequently, they graciously allowed him to invite me to collaborate on the mele. Still, it was a humbling relevation.

I won’t go into a long description of the event, and would encourage everyone to watch the program on the KS website. I can only say that I was astounded by the mele and the variety and quality of the compositions. The composers of each mele were asked to stand and recognize the performance of their mele upon its completion. I couldn’t stand-I was simply numbed by the performance of the senior women. I’m certainly happy I did not have to judge the competition this year, because all of the classes were outstanding. Neither Kenneth or I heard the rehearsals, so we, along with the audience, were hearing it for the first time. And of course the feeling returned when the presenters announced that the senior girls had won the girls’ division, and tied for their Hawaiian language pronunciation.

As things were winding down and the emotions settling on the Blaisdell arena floor, Manu Boyd joined us. He started raving “My God, I could see the rain, and the birds, and the forest!” and I thought I was going to really lose it. What a compliment from one of the preeminent haku mele of this time.

When Kenneth and I began working together eight years ago, I had two things that I hoped to accomplish as a composer. I didn’t tell anyone, and only mention it to Kenneth after we finished the mele. But one of them came true on Friday night. The other? It has nothing to do with the Grammy or Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. And I’m keeping it to myself until it happens. If it does, you’ll read about it here.

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together: More ‘Ōlelo Support in iOS

A new iPhone was announced today, the iPhone 4S, and the response to Apple’s press conference was a bit lukewarm. Many were expecting the iPhone 5 and/or iOS5 today. But one of the more exiting developments for us was found on the specification sheet for the phones (tip o’ the cap to Joseph Erb for the heads up): there will be a Hawaiian keyboard and spell-check document included. Yes, we’ve had support for the ‘okina and kahakō in the iPhone and iPad for a while; however, while you can generate them from the soft keyboard by long-holding your finger on a vowel, you could not type it when your device (iPads, mostly) was attached to an external keyboard. With this new development you will be able to do so. As soon as these features show up I’ll discuss them further. I believe all you will need to do to activate the Hawaiian spell-checker is select the Hawaiian keyboard.

Mahalo e ko Apple i ke kāko‘o mau ‘ana i ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i!

New Journal Publication

I was happy that my first peer-reviewed journal article (and first article of any type in several years) was published in Language Documentation and Conservation. I’ve had interactions with the National Foreign Language Resource Center at UH-Mānoa for many years, presented at their conferences, and have had a strong admiration for their work.

The paper is entitled “Puana ‘Ia me ka ‘Oko‘a: A Comparative Analysis of Hawaiian Language Pronunciation as Spoken and Sung”, and it is a translation, distillation, and revision of my MA thesis, which was originally written in Hawaiian. It is a comparative analysis that uses recordings and compositions by John Kameaaloha Almeida. It took nearly two years for me to translate and pare down, and nearly another two years to tweak it, get feedback, and then get it published. One reviewer felt is wasn’t linguistically focused for this journal, but I think I made an important point that in addition to acknowledging the importance of linguistic diversity in terms of the number of languages that are thriving in society, we also must look at and preserve the diversity that is inherent within a single language. To make this point I documented and examined some significant differences in Hawaiian language as spoken and sung. Some of these differences have been mentioned previously, but never closely examined nor explained.