Written by Ellen Kekoaohiwaikalani Wright Prendergast in 1893, "Kaulana Nā Pua" protests the illegal overthrow that year of Queen Liliʻuokalani by American missionary descendants and their allies, who created the Republic of Hawaiʻi. Blending traditional Hawaiian poetics, an open call to resist annexation, and a stirring melody, the song quickly became a rallying cry for the Queen's supporters. This mele kūʻē (song of resistance) continues to resonate with supporters of Hawaiian sovereignty more than a century later. It is the ultimate Hawaiian lament and blues.

I created this arrangement in 1971 going for a soulful feel that honors the subject and mood of the song. Because this song has such importance to our culture, I’ve included the lyrics for your study, prepared by my brother, Kaliko Beamer Trapp.

You’ll notice that in this recorded version from my CD, “Soliloquy - Ka Leo O Loko” I use overdubs to create a guitar trio. The steel string guitar tuning is often called "Dropped C" because it is the same as the popular G Major Tuning, with the lowest pitched 6th string tuned down from D to C. It is sometimes also called "Leonard's C" because it has been recorded in most prominently by the late Leonard Kwan (1931-2000), one of the three most influential slack key guitarists of all time (along with the late Philip "Gabby" Pahinui, 1921-1980, and the late Sonny Chillingworth, 1932-1994).

I played two nylon string guitars, both in C Wahine "Keola's C," played in the key of G, and one steel string guitar in C Wahine "Leonard's C" (C-G-D-G-B-D), played in the key of G.

After you have finished this piece, go on to Holo Waʻapā.

Keola Beamer

Lesson Resources

Tuning: Keola’s C or C Wahine (C-D-G-B-D-E) in the key of G

Tablature: PDF of Kaulana Nā Pua tabs

Lyrics: PDF of Kaulana Nā Pua lyrics

Audio File: M4A Audio of Kaulana Nā Pua

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