As promised, I am going to tell you about some instruments I used during my time dancing the hula.
The Pu’ili is a split bamboo instrument. You grip the solid end and bang the split ends together (crisscross in front of you) with each beat of the music. Sometimes the story being told calls for you to hit them above your head, to the side, or down low. They are used for sit-down hulas as well as standing hulas, and by men as well as women. Over time, the splits in this instrument can relax and become too wide, making a different sound, and the Pu’ili not look exactly right. I stored mine with a rubber band around the ends or something tied around the ends to keep the splits tight.
The ‘Ili’ili are Hawaiian castanets—four smooth, equal sized rocks that can be held easily, two per hand. These are challenging to hold, and even more so to click as you dance! And, you still have to move your hands and arms into various positions to tell the story. I found ‘Ili’ilis for sale on the internet for around $20 per set. Hmm . . . I just dug around outside and found four flat, equal sized rocks—worked for me!
I don’t own an Ipu. It is a hula percussion instrument—a gourd held in one hand and hit with the other for rhythm. The gourd is given a glossy finish and will have a different sound depending on its size and thickness.
The ‘Uli’Uli is a feathered gourd rattle. You use them in a set of two—one in each hand. I don’t own a set of ‘Uli’ulis. They are used by both men and women. You usually see these in the fast-paced Tahitian dancing.
Hope you enjoyed learning about the instruments I used when dancing. Now, go outside, find four rocks, and try your hand at Hawaiian castanets!
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