The Art of Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar

Keola Beamer
80-minute video, Includes music and tab book
  • Code:DLKEOGT21
  • Skill Level:Early Intermediate (3)

The beauty and elegance of Hawaiian slack key guitar is becoming increasingly popular, and Keola Beamer, one of the contemporary masters of the style, provides the perfect introduction to this music. His lush fingerpicking and evocative songs will add new sounds and flavors to your repertoire.

Keola has chosen seven traditional and original compositions to give you an overview of this style. He has skillfully organized the tunes in order of difficulty for the benefit of players who are new to this genre. You'll learn the techniques that give Hawaiian slack key guitar its distinctive sound: Vibrato, harmonics, slurs, harmonies in thirds and sixths, legato playing and a variety of tunings that will be useful in this and many other styles.

Here are the beautiful instrumentals you'll be playing in the slack key style: Kuu Lei Awapuni Melemele (My Yellow Ginger Lei), Kalena Kai (Bath House), A Grandmother's Wish, Manu Kai (Sea Birds), Sanoe, Makika (The Mosquito), He Punahele (The Favorite Child).


"Slack key" guitar refers to a variety of very deep, richly toned tunings in which strings are loosened from standard pitch to suit the music. The thumb plays the bass while the other fingers are used to play melody, in a cross between country fingerpicking and classical guitar. This way of tuning and playing the instrument dates back to the 19th century when Spanish and Mexican cowboys introduced the guitar to the islands, but failed to show the Hawaiians how to tune it. Hawaiian musicians quickly adopted the guitar, inventing their own unique way to make music. This vital tradition has continued to evolve and grow through the years, with today's players adding powerful contemporary voices to family songs and tunings that have been handed down for generations. Slack key can be played on any guitar, acoustic or electric.


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