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Sheet music is rarely of interest to people who can't read it, but this beautiful book is an exception. A dedicated group of Hawaiian scholars devoted a quarter-century to researching, editing and annotating 60 songs that were either written by Queen Liliuokalani or associated with her. Hundreds of hours were spent reviewing and cross-checking the arrangements, lyrics, English translations and historic commentary before the book was published in 1999.
"The Queen's Songbook" (Hui Hanai, 1999, $48 clothbound, $35 paperback) is perfect for anyone interested in Hawaiian music, Hawaiian history or the legacy of the beloved queen.
Those who read music will be particularly interested in the songs published here for the first time. Vocalists will find pointers on pronunciation and other aspects of performance.
Nonmusicians will enjoy "The Queen's Songbook" for the extensive annotation. Along with each song's history, editor Barbara Barnard Smith in some cases provides informed speculation regarding the identities of the people alluded to in the lyrics.
Liliuokalani's handwritten manuscript for "Aloha 'Oe" is among the treasures to be found in "The Queen's Songbook."|
"Aloha 'Oe" is here, of course, presented with original Hawaiian lyrics and two English translations -- Liliuokalani's original poetic translation and a modern "plain and literal" translation by Hui Hanai. Illustrations of the queen's handwritten manuscripts and lyrics, in both languages, add a personal connection between Liliu and who honor her memory and her music today.
"The Queen's Songbook" also contains a broader over-view of Liliuokalani's music and the songs she collected for her own never-published anthology, "He Buke Mele Hawaii," more than a century ago. A biography gives newcomers an understanding of her life and times and a short but well-written history of 19th-century Hawaiian music. There is even a chronological listing of selected compositions, a glossary and an index that lists the songs by opening lines.
It would be hard to find a better Christmas gift for any true Hawaiian or student of things Hawaiian.
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