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Hula ‘Auana

Modern hula (hula ‘auana) arose from adaptation of traditional hula ideas (dance and mele) to Western influences. The primary influences were Christian morality and melodic harmony. Hula ‘auana still tells or comments on a story, but the stories may include events since the 1800s. The costumes of the women dancers are less revealing and the music is heavily Western-influenced.

Songs

The mele of hula ‘auana are generally sung as if they were popular music. A lead voice sings in a major scale, with occasional harmony parts.

The subject of the songs is as broad as the range of human experience.  People write mele hula ‘auana to comment on significant people, places or events or simply to express an emotion or idea.

Instruments

The musicians performing hula ‘auana will typically use portable acoustic stringed instruments.

•    ’Ukelele-  four-, six- or eight-stringed, used to maintain the rhythm if there are no other instruments
•    Guitar—used as part of the rhythm section, or as a lead instrument
•    Steel guitar—accents the vocalist
•    Bass—maintains the rhythm

Costumes

Costumes play an important role in illustrating the hula instructor’s interpretation of the mele. While there is some freedom of choice, most hālau follow the accepted costuming traditions. Women generally wear skirts or dresses of some sort. Men may wear long or short pants, skirts, or a malo (a cloth wrapped under and around the crotch). For slow, graceful dances, the dancers will wear formal clothing such as a mu’umu’u for women and a sash for men. A fast, lively, “rascal” song will be performed by dancers in more revealing or festive attire. The hula kahiko is always performed with bare feet, but the hula ‘auana can be performed with bare feet or shoes.

Modern hula arose from adaptation of traditional hula ideas (dance and mele) to Western influences. The primary influences were Christian morality and melodic harmony. Hula ‘auana still tells or comments on a story, but the stories may include events since the 1800s. The costumes of the women dancers are less revealing and the music is heavily Western-influenced.

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