Lance Takamiya | Aloha, This Is Who We Are

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Aloha, This Is Who We Are

by Lance Takamiya

"Aloha, This is Who We Are" encapsulates an imagery of Hawai'i, inspired by the beauty that kindles the Aloha spirit and its cultural heritage through the art of Ki'hoalu or Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar.
Genre: World: Slack-Key Guitar
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Ho'olaulea Slack Key
2:35 $0.99
2. Paniolo Slack Key
2:52 $0.99
3. Haleiwa Town
3:02 $0.99
4. Naha
3:16 $0.99
5. Beach Walk Slack Key
2:51 $0.99
6. Aloha, This Is Who We Are
4:20 $0.99
7. Heihei Wa'a
2:10 $0.99
8. Green Room Rapture
2:30 $0.99
9. Rush
2:54 $0.99
10. Liliu's Waltz
3:50 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
This Album:

I’m happy to release my debut solo Slack Key (Ki’hoalu) instrumental album, “Aloha, This is Who We Are” featuring all original compositions. Two of the tracks include vocals, the Title song, and “Haleiwa Town”. I hope the music and lyrics in this album lead you to understand the island lifestyle and its reliance on the natural beauty of the islands. This relationship creates an energy that permeates through our being, lifts us up, kindles the Aloha Spirit and sets the framework for Hawai’i’s rich cultural heritage that attracts so many visitors from around the world. My songs pay homage to Hawai’i’s way of life and serve as a reminder that we should cherish and preserve Hawai’i’s natural beauty.

A Look Back:

I was born and raised on the island of Oahu, Hawai’i. During high school, I began picking up the acoustic steel guitar and enjoyed strumming chords to popular songs of the 70s“. My interest changed after hearing my brother’s friend play Mason William’s “Classical Gas”. This was the era of cassette tapes and 33-1/3 RPM vinyl records called LPs. (Long Plays). To figure out how to play the song, I would listen to this piece on Mason William’s 33 LP a few notes at a time lifting and dropping the record player needle arm over and over. Eventually, to my surprise, I was able to play “Classical Gas”. During that time the Hawaiian music renaissance was in full swing. A Keola and Kapono Beamer album caught my ear. The Slack Key guitar was the most beautiful sound I had heard. Not only that, I could feel the spirit (mana) of the islands in those songs sung in perfect harmony. I tried playing it but due to the lack of my understanding of tunings and its fundamentals, I was not able to replicate it.

While I was finishing my final semester at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, I entered the Pro Guitar Shop on Waialae Avenue looking for a classical nylon string guitar and the owner told me, “you play pretty good, want to take lessons for $5 a session? The teacher’s only in the islands for a few months at a time and plays at Bagwells restaurant in the Hyatt Regency Waikiki. Now that he’s here, you should give it a try.” Back then, 5 bucks was a lot as I had worked myself through college with money made from trimming pineapples at the cannery, being a companion for cognitive impaired residents at Waimano Home, a stock boy at Kress Store and selling fish. I had enough saved up to buy a cheap guitar. My girlfriend, now my wife, bought me the guitar for $600 so I could afford the lessons. The teacher’s name was Jose Ortega. I remember hearing him practicing before I entered a lesson and was awe struck as I watched him play complicated pieces as he sight read from classical music sheets. He set me up with fundamental positioning, posture and fingering techniques. He told me to buy an exercise book and said, “that person on the book, Andres Segovia, was my teacher.” I began to learn how to read music. Progress was slow as it was like starting from scratch. Shortly after, I began my career as an Engineer and stopped the lessons but continued to work on the classical exercises for years. Looking back, the classical training payed dividends as it strengthened my fingers and disciplined my guitar playing.

Years later, I observed Ozzie Kotani playing a beautiful Slack Key piece at a Slack Key Festival with the same classical style hand positioning. I found that he was teaching at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa Outreach Program. I took some classes and he asked if I was interested in undertaking an intense program in the art of Slack Key. We applied and we were awarded a Hawai’i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA) Folk Arts Apprenticeship grant in year 1992. The SFCA was established by the Hawai’i State Legislature to promote, perpetuate, preserve and encourage culture and the arts, history and the humanities as central to the quality of life of the people of Hawai’i. It was Ozzie’s efforts during and after the apprenticeship that allowed me to transform from a guitar hobbyist to a Slack Key guitar artist. He gave me opportunities to play at public events and meet other musicians, including Slack Key Masters Raymond Kane and Leonard Kwan. Upon completion of the SFCA Apprentice Program, Ozzie provided me the opportunity to teach at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa Outreach Program in year 1994. I would continue teaching there for 15 years. Teaching kept me focused and devoted to the art while experiencing great fulfillment by being around those who shared a common passion and love for Ki’hoalu. The warm aloha and appreciation I received from my students, and the friendships made over the years have been gratifying experiences. I want to thank Ozzie Kotani and the SFCA for making all of this possible and to each of my students for learning and sustaining the art by playing Ki’hoalu for your enjoyment as well as the enjoyment of your ohana (family) and friends.

The Art:

Hawaiian Slack Key guitar music may have a mesmerizing effect on the listener. The casual listener may not be able to discern why. Much is made about the slacking of guitar strings, “Ki” which means “keys on the guitar” and “hoalu” which means, “to loosen”. However, the playing technique is what sets Slack Key guitar apart from other styles of guitar playing. The alternating bass pattern played by the thumb and the melody played with the index, middle and ring fingers on the picking hand optimizes a guitar’s resonance and creates a uniquely warm, flowing and sweet sound. Ornamentation techniques used by fingers on the fret board such as chimes (harmonics), hammers, add-ons, pull-offs, slurs and slides give Slack Key pieces a uniquely Hawaiian sound. The fullness in sound also gives the listener the impression that more than one instrument is playing. Through the art of Slack Key, I developed an appreciation for Hawaiian music and for the island culture in general.


• Ozzie Kotani
• Jose Ortega
• My wife, Jan, and our two children Andrea and Evan Takamiya for their love and inspiration. Together we explored the islands, learned the passion of its people, ate its food, witnessed the indigenous art forms, observed its breathtaking beauty and learned its history. Our life in Hawai’i inspired me to compose these songs.
• Andrea Takamiya, website design.
• Kelii Borgonia and Andrea Takamiya, Album cover graphics.
• Eric Lagrimas, Pass Out Records and Songs of Passout (ASCAP)
• Fred Domingo
• Michael Cheape
• Les Lichtenberg
• Steve Grimes of Grimes Guitars.
• Karl Long, Sweetwater Sales Engineer

Story Behind Each Song

Track 1: Ho’olaulea Slack Key
By Lance Takamiya
Tuning: Taro Patch (DGDGBD)
6 String Steel Guitar: Lance Takamiya
I was asked if I could compose a song for use on a Hawaiian Airlines video for their May Day parade float building project. I composed this piece and named it Ho’olaulea (celebration) Slack Key. It’s an appropriate song to start off this debut album!

Track 2: Paniolo Slack Key
By Lance Takamiya
Tuning: Taro Patch (DGDGBD)
6 String Steel Guitar: Lance Takamiya
In year 1830, King Kamehameha III (Kauikeaouli) sent his emissary to California to make arrangements for Mexican Cowboys (Vaqueros) to come to Hawai’i to teach the Hawaiian cowboys (Paniolo) how to herd cattle. The Vaqueros brought with them the guitar and taught the Paniolo how to play the guitar. It is assumed that the Paniolo slacked certain strings possibly to match their vocal style, make it easier to play or the Vaqueros were not around long enough to teach them the standard tuning. This instrumental is a tribute to the Paniolo and the origin of slack key in Hawai’i.

Track 3: Hale'iwa Town
By Lance Takamiya
Tuning: Taro Patch (DGDGBD)
Nylon String Guitar, Vocal: Lance Takamiya
Visit Halei'wa Town and you fall in love with its old Hawaiian charm. This old plantation town has many estuaries flowing through it from the water shed high above. Annually, thousands of visitors and residents paddle-board or canoe the famous Anahulu stream, home to giant sea turtles, crustaceans and bait fish that provide food for the bigger fish in and around Hale'iwa Harbor. Hawai’i has lost many of its natural estuaries due to overdevelopment. Let’s vow to keep Hale'iwa a living and breathing ecosystem for all to enjoy.

Track 4: Naha
By Lance Takamiya
Tuning: Taro Patch (DGDGBD)
6 String Steel Guitar: Lance Takamiya
Lanai is a small and relatively undeveloped island in the Hawaiian chain. In our younger days, our family would take the long ride on the dirt road to a part of the coastline called “Naha”. There, I would walk the reefs and whip for papio (jacks) and ulua (giant trevally). All you can hear there is the rolling surf, the rubbing of kiawe tree branches and chirping of the resident cardinals. The peaceful and unspoiled beauty of Naha inspired me to compose this slack key instrumental done in the traditional Ki’hoalu style.

Track 5: Beach Walk Slack Key
By Lance Takamiya
Tuning: Drop C (CGDGBD)
Nylon String Guitar: Lance Takamiya
This instrumental describes without words the excitement and spirited atmosphere of visitors and residents traversing the glamorous Waikiki Beach Walk.

Track 6: Aloha, This Is Who We Are
By Lance Takamiya
Tuning: Drop C (CGDGBD)
Nylon String Guitar, Vocals, Orchestra: Lance Takamiya
Aloha is such an important ingredient in this special place called Hawai’i. The Aloha spirit encompasses one of compassion, grace and love permeating from our experiences with the beauty that surrounds us and tantalizes our senses. As long as we retain the beauty of our land and sea, the Aloha spirit will remain in us all.

Track 7: Heihei Wa’a
By Lance Takamiya
Tuning: Taro Patch (DGDGBD)
6 String Steel Guitar: Lance Takamiya
This instrumental depicts the coordinated efforts of canoe paddlers during an outrigger canoe race or “Heihei Wa’a”, where paddlers stroke in unison through ocean swells with fierce determination to challenge their abilities, defeating the elements in order to reach their destination.

Track 8: Green Room Rapture
By Lance Takamiya
Tuning: Drop C (CGDGBD)
Nylon String Guitar: Lance Takamiya
A surfer once explained to me what it’s like to surf waves at the Banzai Pipeline and riding through the tube, termed as the Green Room. This song epitomizes the exhilaration and euphoria I could only imagine one must feel when experiencing the Green Room.

Track 9: Rush
By Lance Takamiya
Tuning: Taro Patch (DGDGBD)
6 String Steel Guitar: Lance Takamiya
So many activities experienced in Hawai’i bring a rush to our senses. This sprightly composition played on slack key guitar epitomizes this feeling.

Track 10: Lili'u’s Waltz
By Lance Takamiya
Tuning: C6 (CGEGAE)
Nylon String Guitar: Lance Takamiya
A number of years ago, I went through a period of illness that floored me. Alone at home and unable to do anything but hold a guitar, I decided to compose a song to make the best of the situation. At the same time I began to empathize with how Queen Lili'uokalani must have felt, imprisoned and unable to leave the confines of her own home, the Iolani Palace. I decided to spend this time writing a piece to describe this period in her life. In this bittersweet composition, I hope you will hear the sounds that describe her elegance, her grace, the agony of losing her throne, and through it all maintaining her dignity and earning the respect and love of her people.

Produced and recorded by Akule Productions LLC, Lance Takamiya



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