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Ancient Hula Type Name
Click to hear the pronunciation
Hula Kä`eke`eke (Dance with bamboo pipes)

Further Detail
Hula Kä`eke`eke, or dance with bamboo pipes, can be done in either a standing or seated position. In either case, the dancer does not execute hula steps, but instead moves the body forward and back, leaning and turning, shifting the weight, with the pipes in hand providing rhythm and sound. Hula Kä`eke`eke dancers typically chant themselves, as they keep their own rhythm and tell the story with the pipes in their hands.

It is the length of the pipes that determine the basic body position of the dancer. Longer pipes cannot easily be played or manipulated for storytelling while seated, and therefore are utilized in the standing version of this hula type. The shorter pipes can be played and manipulated by the dancer while seated, and therefore are utilized in the sitting version of this hula type.

Kä`eke`eke are made from bamboo and make a unique sound when hit upon the ground. The insides of the nodes in the piece of bamboo (with the exception of the bottom one) are removed so the sound resonates from the bottom where it is hit, through the pipe and out the open top. Sometimes even the bottom node is removed. The pipe's length and diameter, bamboo's type and thickness, environmental conditions (ex. humidity, temperature), and age of the bamboo all help to contribute to the quality of the sound each pipe generates.

Typically, a dancer uses two pipes of uneven length. The particular mawaena (interlude) used with the kä`eke`eke and the extent to which the pipes are utilized to tell the story may differ from one hula tradition to the next. Regardless of the particulars, a Hula Kä`eke`eke takes practice and dedication to simultaneously play the instruments, keep the rhythm, and chant.

General Body Position: Kü or Noho (Standing or Sitting)
Can be for Game, Pastime, or Sport: No
Implement or Instrument: With or Without

Published Research Sources

Hawaiian Dictionary (Puku`i/Elbert)
- Detail is given on construction of these "bamboo pipes" and how to play them. It suggests the term previously referred to a coconut-tree drum and the bamboo pipe meaning originated with Emerson. There is no listing for "Hula Kä`eke`eke."

Hula: Historical Perspectives (Barrere/Puku`i/Kelly)
- Chapter entitled "The Hula in Hawaiian Legends", sub-section "The Legend of La`amaikahiki" on page 11 tells how the kä`eke`eke were brought to Hawai`i from Tahiti and how associated implement terms may have been confused by Emerson in his book.

Nä Mele Hula volume 1 (Beamer)
- This Volume contains two Hula Kä`eke`eke, one for Kaläkaua (Holoana `O Kaläkaua) and one for Kaua`i (Hanohano Pihanakalani). Beamer offers a personal account, chant background, full text with translation, and her chant melody for each.

Unwritten Literature of Hawai`i (Emerson)
- Chapter XVII "The Hula Ka-eke-eke" details the use of the pipes in hula. This chapter and Chapter XXI "The Music and Musical Instruments of the Hawaiians" detail how they are best made of Hawaiian bamboo and played upon the ground or bags of sand.

Hula Pahu volume 2 (Tatar)
- Pages 288-291 detail two Hula Kä`eke`eke chants, Hanohano Pihanakalani and Holo Ana `O Kaläkaua, and the beats associated with them. They are 4-count patterns of simultaneous pipe-stamping and alternating pipe combinations.

Hula Pahu volume 1 (Kaeppler)
- Pages 17-18 note that the term "ka`eke" refers to a small wooden drum. It also notes that "kä`eke`eke" is thought to refer to the "sound sent forth from the kä`eke." There is no reference to the hula type with bamboo pipes under discussion here.

Additional Notes
Please see "Published Sources" section above for greater detail on where to find documented research on this Hula Type.

Another resource is Peter Buck's "Arts and Crafts of Hawai`i" Volume IX on "Musical Instruments." The section "Bamboo Pipes" gives detail into construction and playing of kä`eke`eke and notes the various pipe sizes in Bishop Museum's collection. A photo is included which shows kä`eke`eke, papa hehi, kalä`au, and `ili`ili. This series is published by Bishop Museum Press.

Please also consult the "Kupuna" section at bottom to read and hear what our elders have to share.

Dancer holding kä`eke`eke
Dancers performing a seated Hula Kä`eke`eke
Seated Hula Kä`eke`eke, 1998

Related Chants
Holo Ana `O Kaläkaua (Kaläkaua is sailing)

Related Implements/Instruments
Kä`eke`eke (Bamboo pipe)

Related Küpuna
Beamer, Nona Kapuailohiamanonokalani Desha
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