No sooner than finding sheet music to BEGIN’s Hana, my retired Japanese language professor friend in California introduced an even more nostalgic song from Okinawa. It’s also called Hana. The composer is Kina Shoukichi (喜納昌吉).
This led me on a wild goose chase. The melody was so sticky that it became obsessive. My classmate from Utrecht Conservatory, Shumpei, now a concert pianist with a thriving piano studio on Okinawa, quickly responded to my hunt on Facebook with sheet music and a web page of the lyrics and English translation by another fan. I printed the two pages of Shumpei’s sheet music and “tested” it on my advanced theory students, whose task was to figure out the melody and sing it together. For my advanced piano students, I’ll have them work out improvisations and accompaniment.
A high school classmate on Facebook pointed out that Keiko Kina, the daughter of the composer of this song, was on Facebook. So I’m now connected but my Japanese is too basic to be able to communicate this exciting adventure of getting hooked on nostalgic songs of Okinawa and finding or arranging the sheet music to play and sing it on Maui.
Meanwhile, my colleague, a Japanese counselor, found an even more chicken-skin tickling rendition by the popular Okinawan singer Rimi Natsukawa.
Rimi sings more or less to the lead sheet I found on the Web, to which I translated into Romaji for my piano class to decipher and sing along. Click on the sample score below for the 1-page PDF of the lead sheet.
While checking that my Romaji lyrics were in sync with Rimi Natsukawa’s version, I discovered yet another nostalgic song of Okinawa, below. Shima Uta (literally translated as “Island Song”) has its lead sheet with hiragana lyrics.
One thing leads to another. I promised Shumpei I’d arrange a piano solo version of Kina’s Hana. But already this new Island Song is calling me!