Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Star of Gladness

Yesterday our local newspaper had this tiny blurb on the weather page:
What's up in the sky?
Arcturus, also known as Alpha Boötis and the Polynesian Hokule'a, or the "Star of Gladness," is nearly overhead just after sunset and is the brightest star in the northern half of the sky. ~Morrison Planetarium, California Academy of Sciences
Last night was too cloudy to see much at all, but it shouldn't be hard to spot the fourth brightest star once the skies clear a little.

Meanwhile, there is this song of Iz's, which I heard for the first time only recently. I don't think it's on any of his solo albums, but he did record it with the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau and it features in the dvd Israel Kamakawiwo'ole: The Man and His Music (well worth adding to your netflix or library queue).


Ancient Polynesians used Hokule'a as a guiding star to find the Hawaiian islands, and Iz's song expresses the joy of traveling on an open sea in anticipation of reaching land.

Below is my attempt at transcribing chords using the video. A .pdf file for sharing can be found here

Star of Gladness is another 3-chord song (really, almost a 2-chord song) and as such, it is easy to transpose for your singing voice. In this case, the G is the I, the D is the V, and the C is IV. So to play this song in C, you'd substitute C for G, G7 for D7, and F for C.

Star of Gladness
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole


G                                                                (Gdim-G)
Raindrops, they hamper my vision
G                                                              D7
Falling down and cutting incision in my mind
                  G                                 (D7-Am7)
While we sail away our time

G                                                      (Gdim-G)
Blow makani, shout jubilation
G
Carry us down to our destination
D7                        G
O wikiwiki, a keala Tahiti

G                                                      (Gdim-G)
Millions of stars up in the sky
G
Looking up, they all make us high
D7                                               G
Hokule'a (Hokule'a) Star of Gladness (you're the happy star)
D7                           G
Hokule'a, Star of Gladness

G                                                             (Gdim-G)
Stand beside me and be my friend
G
Make me smile and laugh again, yes
D7                                                G
Hokule'a (Hokule'a) Star of Gladness (you're the happy star)
D7                            G              (G7)
Hokule'a, Star of Gladness

Bridge:
C                                                        G                            (G7)
Lift your bow, your hull slides through the sea
C                                             G
Guide Hokule'a, Lord we ask you please
D7                                         G
In this we pray, Lord to show us the way

D7                                                G
Hokule'a (Hokule'a) Star of Gladness (you're the happy star)
D7                            G
Hokule'a, Star of Gladness (you're the happy star)


This song uses the Hawaiian D7, played on the second frets of the G and E strings (2020). Some other things one can see in the video are rocking on and off frets, plucking the top string and strumming, and other ways of elaborating that are too complicated for my beginner's eye to understand. But even played in its most basic version with only the 3 chords and a straight shuffle strum, this is a fun song to play on a starry summer night.

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