For those looking for a unique Big Island experience, look no further than the Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival on September 18 at the Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa.
Admission is free, but donations of $10 will be accepted at the door to benefit the Ki-ho’alu Foundation, a 501 ©(3) Non-Profit, whose only mission is to promote, preserve, and perpetuate slack key guitar.
The festival will feature some of Hawaii’s finest artists in the Slack Key Guitar Genre over 4 hours from 1-5:00 p.m. on the beautiful grounds of the Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa. Some featured artists include Ledward Kaapana, George Kuo, Kawika Kahiapo, Kailua Moon, Dwight Kanae, Stephen Inglis, Kamuela Kahoano, and others.
Starting 40 years ago, the festival showcases some of Hawaii’s foremost artists/musicians in the slack key guitar genre. For those unacquainted with the genre, the Hawaiian slack key guitar (ki-ho’alu) is an indigenous guitar art form that had its beginnings around 1830 when the Mexican vaqueros (cowboys) introduced the guitar to the islands after being contracted by the King at the time to teach cattle management to the native Hawaiians.
Hawaiian slack key guitar (ki-ho’alu) is considered one of today’s great acoustic guitar traditions. However, due to Hawai’i’s isolation (the islands lie furthest in the world from any land mass), ki-ho’alu remains one of the least known traditions. Ki-ho’alu, which means “loosen the key,” is the Hawaiian language name for this unique finger-picking style. The strings (or keys) are “slacked” to produce many beautiful tunings, almost always based on a major tonality, and offer a full major chord or chord with a major 7th or 6th note. Each tuning produces a characteristic resonance behind the melody, and each has its distinctive color and flavor, like a beautiful basket of fruit.
Slack key’s unique sound comes partly from techniques such as hammer-on, an ornament produced by plucking a note and immediately fretting that string to create a second higher tone; and pull-off, produced by plucking a fretted string and directly pulling the finger off that fret, sounding a second lower note that is either open or fretted by another finger. Other techniques include “Chimes and Harmonics.”
To experience this wonderful, unique, and indigenous guitar art form, it would be well worth your time to attend the festival in Kahului in Kona on September 18 at the Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa.
Featured image: Steve Roby
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