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Halu'a

Like the Arctic Inuit, and their many terms for snow, the Hawaiians have a huge range of terms for water. Halu'a are ripples on the surface of water, subtle shifts which rapidly drift out.




After Pulelehua, this was the only etude I could write. I had evaded the issue of the re-entrant 4th string, and now had to confront it. I kept much of the rest of the texture the same. Except instead of working up and down the fretboard, I used the 4th string to create smaller shifts in melody, to illustrate the tight natural voicing of the ukulele.


From an aesthetic standpoint, this etude forms a sub-group with a number of the others, in that it creates rapid arpeggio figures in a triplet rhythm.


PERFORMANCE NOTES

Like Pulelehua, the vast majority of this piece can be played once a single technique has been mastered. Place your middle finger on the 1st string, index finger on the 2nd, and thumb on the 3rd. The goal is for the picking to be smooth and even. Try to play a triplet figure. Now, on the repeat, the thumb should play the 4th string. All the notes should be of equal length. 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 4, etc. It is most important to make sure that there is no extra pause between the 3/4 and 1.


The subtle change in the thumb action of this piece came quite naturally to me, and I might be taking it for granted that it will be an easy transition for others. If it is not, try practicing the right hand on an open tuning; that is, leave your left hand off the fretboard.


If there is a performance issue for me with this piece, it is in keeping track of the rhythm. I sometimes find it hard to latch onto the downbeat. In those cases, I try to listen to the alternating line between the 3rd and 4th string, which is generally easy to hear. While this piece doesn't have to played with strict rhythm, it does involve quite a lot of counting on the part of the performer.