Ernest Ka'ai's Hone A Ka Wai

Hone A Ka Wai is one of the European style dance tunes that Ernest Ka'ai included in the 1916 edition of his book The Ukulele and How It's Played.

This delicious waltz has been later arranged by John King (for his book Famous Solos & Duets for the 'Ukulele), James Hill (in a campanella style) and many others.  Here's my own arrangement, thought to be played on a low G ukulele –although perfectly playable as is on a reentrant tuned instrument. 

I conceived this setting for students to practice three techniques in just one piece: 

  • Alternate picking with middle and index fingers;
  • Left hand position shifts; 
  • Controlling note duration with planting fingers.

Grab the tabs below, then continue reading the

Performance notes

This tune alternate between short scale runs (including many chromaticisms) and longer sustained notes with picked chords in between.

Play the scales with alternate plucks of the index and middle fingers. In this very example, starting with the middle works best, as your hand is then ready to go to the top string with the middle. Use the video as a guide!

I've included lots of fingering and position annotations. And I've really given much thought to them, as I've used this piece to get a bunch of students a level up in their fingerpicking. I feel there's a shortage of proper ukulele melodic material that requires the player to concentrate on position shifting –in contrast to right hand arpeggio studies. If you're ready to work on your shifts, I'd recommend my Study No. 17 - Seriously Fun as additional material for your workout.

(Note: on bar 16 the parenthesised notes are optional, if your ukulele is small or your hands big enough to make the stretch from the fifth to the tenth fret reasonable, play this measure in fifth position.)

Then, the staccato chords. Starting on measure 2, you'll find most of the pairs of 'comping' chords have a dot under them. That means there should be a small rest in between that chord and the next one. Your best bet to stop the notes ringing is planting your right hand fingers before attacking again.

Now, on tempo: practice and learn the piece playing on the beat. Then forget about a steady pulse and make the music flow. A waltz of three equal beats is a boring waltz. But beware of cheating by disguising technical limitations with a rubato. I'm watching you!

Please, don't hesitate to contact me, privately or through the Patreon comments if you need help or have some question.

Bonus: I've also uploaded the a scan from the original book by Ka'ai for reference.

If you're new around here, be welcome! Take a look around, check what I have to offer, and, please, consider supporting my work by joining as a patron or buying me a coffee.
I'm also offering private Skype ukulele lessons.

Oh, if you like this kind of Hawaiian/European music, I also arranged Hoolah Mazurka, from 1910's Kaai book some time ago.

Have fun!

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