Hawaiian Lyrics Links
Paʻa ka waha, nana ka maka; hana ka lima.
Shut the mouth; observe with the eyes; work with the hands. (One learns by listening, observing and doing.)
This was the traditional method for learning Hawaiian songs, as one sat near a musician as s/he played. Songs and tunings were passed down through generations of families — from kūpuna (elder) to keiki (child).
Hawaiian songs were rarely (if ever) put in writing, not even the lyrics. Very few musicians in Hawaiʻi could read music, so this was how the songs were perpetuated. Even today, many of the “top” musicians in Hawaiʻi do not read sheet music…they learn the old way, or from listening to a particular song over and over and playing along until they feel ready to play the song in public.
Hawaiian music fans outside the islands — in their eagerness to learn the lyrics and translations of their favorite songs — are often dismayed to find that they may also have to learn “the old way”.
Please Note: MELE.COM does not provide lyrics or translations.
No composer is required to provide a song’s lyrics (or translation) on demand. Some composers – especially composers of Hawaiian mele – may prefer to keep that information private, thus ensuring that the song will always honor the composer’s original intent. So don’t be surprised if you cannot find lyrics to a song — especially if it’s Hawaiian.
The first place to look for lyrics is in the liner notes of most CD’s.