Hi’ilawe – Waip’o Valley, Hawai’i Island

Welcome to the first lesson in the Intermediate Realm! If you have arrived here and have not yet taken any of the Slack Key lessons from the Beginning Realm, please go back and start here.
Hiʻilawe was the great slack key guitarist Gabby Pahinui’s signature song, and he recorded it several times, beginning in 1946. Here, I take an entirely different approach in his interpretation of this popular slack key piece, adding many new parts to the original melody.
My recorded interpretation of Hiʻilawe is from my recording “Mauna Kea White Mountain Journal” and is played on two nylon string guitars in a G6th tuning (D- G-D-G-B-E).
Please note that the tablature presented here is a “basic” version of the song and does not duplicate the complicity of my recording. I hope that the haumāna (student) will play this basic version and then take off from it with some improvisation and have some fun, adding your own interpretation to the song. Think of this TAB as a runway and you are going to lift off into the sky from it. Its very common in the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar to re-create a song using the performers own individual stylistic elements. Try experimenting with different ornamentation and see what happens. Have fun.
After you have finished this piece, go on to Kolowaka.
Keola Beamer

Lesson Resources

Tuning: G6th tuning (D-G-D-G-B-E)