Listen but Don′t Ask Question: Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar across the TransPacific
by: Kevin Fellezs
Performed on an acoustic steel-string guitar with open tunings and a finger-picking technique, Hawaiian slack key guitar music emerged in the mid-nineteenth century. Though performed on a non-Hawaiian instrument, it is widely considered to be an authentic Hawaiian tradition grounded in Hawaiian aesthetics and cultural values. In Listen But Don’t Ask Question Kevin Fellezs listens to Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) and non-Hawaiian slack key guitarists in Hawai‘i, California, and Japan, attentive to the ways in which notions of Kanaka Maoli belonging and authenticity are negotiated and articulated in all three locations.
In Hawai‘i, slack key guitar functions as a sign of Kanaka Maoli cultural renewal, resilience, and resistance in the face of appropriation and occupation, while in Japan it nurtures a merged Japanese-Hawaiian artistic and cultural sensibility. For diasporic Hawaiians in California, it provides a way to claim Hawaiian identity. By demonstrating how slack key guitar is a site for the articulation of Hawaiian values, Fellezs illuminates how slack key guitarists are reconfiguring notions of Hawaiian belonging, aesthetics, and politics throughout the transPacific.
Kevin Fellezs will be joined by speakers Jessica Bissett-Perea, Aaron A. Fox, Paige West, and Chris Washburne. Drs. Fox and Washburne are fellow professors in the Department of Music.
This event will take place in person and over Zoom. The Heyman Center requests that everyone register, regardless of how they'll be attending the event. For more information and to register for the event, please visit the event page.