nvt. Chant that was not danced to, especially with prolonged phrases chanted in one breath, often with a trill (ʻiʻi) at the end of each phrase; to chant thus. Ke oli, the chant. Mea oli, chanter. (PNP oli.).
Welcome to Merrie Monarch week in beautiful Hilo, Hawaiʻi. Lots going on in this quaint little town: hula, shopping, parade, shopping, eating, shopping, and more hula. So I thought this an appropriate time to brush up on one important word pertinent to the week.
If you’re going to watch the Merrie Monarch on television (or one of the few who get to view it in person), you will certainly hear a lot of oli. Notice no ʻokina. Oli is chanting that is NOT accompanied by hula. If there is hula involved, then it is mele. When the dancer(s) first go onto the stage the performance will probably begin with an oli, probably a n oli of welcome or something to do with the dance that will follow.
There are many different types or styles of oli, as you have probably noticed. Some of these include: kepakepa (fast, rhythmic chant), hoʻāeae (chant with lengthened vowels), or kēwele (similar but slower than kepakepa). There are more.
Oli (chant) is NOT to be confused with ʻoli (note the ʻokina) which means joyful or happy as in hauʻoli—happy, or nū ʻoli—good news.
Hoihoi nā oli ma ka hoʻokūkū hula – The chants at the hula competition are interesting.
Lōʻihi kekahi mau oli – Some chants are long.
Ikaika ka leo o nāmea oli – the chanters have strong voices.
Tonight is the Miss Aloha Hula competition and each wahine competing will be doing an oli during the kahiko portion. See if you can identify the type of oli!