Humuhumunukunukuapua'a

by Karl Hitzemann

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.

This song marks our first-ever "Hawaiian" song. (It may also be our longest-ever one word title.) The humuhumunukunukuapua'a (we'll call it "humuhumu" for short) is the official state fish of Hawaii. There are many interpretations of what this very long name means including "fish with a snout like a pig." Another translation says that the name means (loosely) a fish put together in pieces like a jigsaw puzzle, with a face like a pig. Another rumored reason for the name is that when it is caught and brought out of the water, it snorts like a pig. According to this version, the name literally means "fish that comes out of the water and sounds like a pig." We, of course, chose to go with this version. How could we resist?!

You might think singing about the humuhumu could be tricky because of the long name, but the way we have set it to music makes it much easier than you might think. First of all, we have broken the name into three sections: "humuhumu," "nukunuku," "apua'a." Secondly, just remember that each section is pronounced pretty much the way it looks: "who-moo who-moo," "new-koo new-koo," "ah-poo-ah'ah." Your singers won't have to actually sing the name all at once. It's always broken up in this manner. For the dialog however, you will need two students who can say it correctly. Be sure to listen to the full performance track on the CD for this issue. It will help tremendously.

We made the accompaniment for this song sound very Hawaiian, complete with slide and acoustic guitars, bass and, of course, ukulele. And for the melody guide... well, it's another first for Music K-8 - "Hawaiian nose humming." Our very own John Riggio provided us with his virtuoso nose playing for this song. His technique was to hold one nostril closed with an index finger and tap the open nostril with his other index finger while humming the tune. We're not kidding. It's a hoot!

There are lots of movement and staging possibilities for this song. Hula dancing, grass skirts, Hawaiian shirts, palm trees, tiki lamps, etc. You could even have your singers making fishy faces and swimming motions during the spoken parts between verses.