Mark Nelson introduces Hawaiian slack key guitar and welcomes you to his lesson series.
Taught by Mark Kailana Nelson in Hawaiian slack key seriesLength: 9:11Difficulty: 0.5 of 5
Slack key playing is a Hawaiian form of guitar music that involves playing in open tunings. The Hawaiian word “ki ho’alu” refers to the genre of slack key guitar. This translates literally to “loosen key” or slack key. Each string of the guitar is detuned so that the open strings from a major chord. Typically, slack key players tune to an open G major chord. Here is a string-by-string breakdown of this open tuning:No Picks Allowed!6th: DSlack Key isn’t the only genre that utilizes open tunings. American blues players from the southwest cultivated their own system of open tunings. Open E, and open D are tunings frequently used by blues guitarists. As Mark later explains, slack key is closely related to blues and country blues music.
Open tunings have found their way into rock and roll as well. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards exploits open G tuning to great effect. Open tunings allow for certain chord shapes and techniques that are not possible in standard tuning.
Slack Key must be played fingerstyle. Bass and chord patterns are combined with soulful melody lines. The musical arrangement of the music necessitates the use of fingerstyle playing. For this reason, we recommend you check out the Phase 2 Fingerstyle lessons available on JamPlay. Studying these lessons in conjunction with this series will maximize your fingerstyle training.Brief History of Ki Ho’alu
Don’t worry if you have no experience with these techniques. Mark will walk you slowly through the right hand mechanics necessary to play in this style.
Mexican cowboys originally brought the guitar to Hawaii. Most historians speculate that this occurred around the middle of the nineteenth century. The Hawaiians referred to their visitors as “paniolo.” This Hawaiian word translates most closely to “Spaniards.” The Spaniards taught Hawaiians the basic fundamentals and techniques of their guitar style. From this point, the Hawaiians began to cultivate their own style. In the slack key style, traditional dance rhythms are combined with harmony native to the Hawaiian Islands.What’s to Come?
The primary focus of this lesson series is to develop guitar skills that are applicable to several genres. Studying the slack key style will hopefully open your eyes to an endless amount of new possibilities on the guitar.
Hawaiian slack key is a beautiful style of guitar that originated in Hawaii. By blending relaxing melodies with intricate fingerstyle playing, this traditional genre of music is sure to please.
Mark Nelson introduces Hawaiian slack key guitar and welcomes you to his lesson series.Length: 9:11 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Mark delves into the world of slack key guitar. He discusses basic concepts such as open tunings and chords.Length: 34:24 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
In this lesson, Mark teaches a slack key arrangement of the classic song "Brother John."Length: 14:12 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson teaches a beautiful Hawaiian piece that he calls "Old Style Slack."Length: 30:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Turnarounds are very important to the slack key genre. Mark explains what they are and how they are used in this lesson.Length: 22:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson teaches a beautiful Hawaiian slack key piece called "Salomila."Length: 19:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson demonstrates how double stops are used in Hawaiian slack key guitar.Length: 22:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson teaches a beautiful piece of music he calls "Ki Ho'Alu Slide."Length: 15:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson teaches a few more turnarounds. He demonstrates how you can link two turnarounds together.Length: 9:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson returns to the song "Salomila." Learn an altered version of this song that will put your slack key skills to the test.Length: 14:30 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson provides you with more slack key building blocks. He demonstrates some new turnarounds that involve playing double stops in sixths.Length: 23:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson returns to the song "Old Style Slack." In this lesson, he teaches a more advanced arrangement of the song.Length: 23:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark demonstrates some additional double stops and discusses common slack key chords.Length: 18:30 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson teaches an original song called "Taropatch Blues." He also explains how improvisation is used in the slack key genre.Length: 19:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson reviews the lesson series up to this point and discusses its future.Length: 16:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson introduces the G Wahine tuning, also known as double slack. He teaches a song in this tuning called "Aunty Style Slack."Length: 21:10 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark introduces the concept of the clave rhythm. He explains what the clave is and provides some fun Hawaiian themed exercises to play.Length: 15:56 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson will teaches a slack key piece called "Malasadas." This lesson applies the clave bass pattern from lesson 17.Length: 14:17 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark expands your knowledge of double slack tuning. He introduces some common chords and double stops in this tuning.Length: 13:57 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson teaches a beautiful Hawaiian slack key song entitled "Playful Popoki."Length: 23:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark teaches another version of "Playful Popoki."Length: 25:17 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson introduces C Wahine tuning.Length: 10:54 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson expands on Drop C / C Wahine tuning. He explains how familiar chords and double stops can be played in this tuning.Length: 15:31 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson teaches a classic Hawaiian slack key piece entitled "Hi`ilawe."Length: 18:12 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark "Kailana" Nelson covers the Drop C / C Wahine tuning again in this lesson. This time around he introduces more chords and variations.Length: 10:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson teaches a beautiful piece entitled "Molokai Waltz" in this lesson. This song demonstrates how you can play melody out of chord shapes.Length: 13:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson teaches a Hawaiian slack key piece entitled "Kowali" in this lesson.Length: 13:42 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson returns to the song "Kowali" and introduces the concept of modulation in this lesson.Length: 11:30 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson returns to the world of Hawaiian slack key with a beautiful piece entitled "Sanoe."Length: 17:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark revisits the beautiful song "Sanoe." He explains how the song modulates in this lesson.Length: 11:31 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson returns with more slack key! Find out what Mark plans to teach in upcoming lessons and learn his approach to fingerpicking technique.Length: 14:00 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson explores the wonders of the beautiful F Wahine tuning.Length: 29:37 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson shares his rendition of the beautiful slack key song "My Yellow Ginger Lei."Length: 14:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson teaches a basic version of the song "Mauna Loa."Length: 10:26 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark teaches a more elaborate version of "Mauna Loa."Length: 12:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson teaches a song called "Kawohikukapulani" and discusses the history behind it.Length: 9:19 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson talks about discovering your own style as he plays and improvises "My Yellow Ginger Lei" in F Wahine tuning.Length: 27:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson shares his rendition of the song "He Aloha No'o Honolulu" in F Wahine tuning.Length: 11:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson covers an extended version of "He Aloha No'o Honolulu" and continues to touch on the subject of creating your own style.Length: 20:17 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson shares his beautiful rendition of the song "Makee Ailana" in this lesson.Length: 22:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson shares his rendition of "Tiare Tahiti," a lovely song named after the sweet Tahitian Tiare flower.Length: 20:22 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Mark continues his discussion on the song "Tiare Tahiti" in this lesson.Length: 17:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson begins his series wrap-up with a lesson about the similarities and differences between tunings. The song "Sanoe" is used as an example.Length: 12:27 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark continues his series wrap-up with another great lesson filled with information on tunings.Length: 21:23 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson concludes his series wrap-up with a lesson on "My Yellow Ginger Lei" in Taropatch tuning. He also shares tips and advice to continue on your own until he returns to JamPlay with more lessons.Length: 19:51 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Kailana Nelson is back by popular demand with more amazing slack key guitar! In this series reintroduction, he talks about what he will be teaching in his new set of lessons.Length: 10:27 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson continues his Slack Key series with another song called "Nanea Kou Maka i ka Le‘ale‘a." Mark lays out the basics of the song and talks a little about making it your own.Length: 24:38 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson talks about intros and outros using the tune, "Nanea Kou Maka i ka Le‘ale‘a" as an example to work from.Length: 19:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson introduces "'Ulupalakua," a song he will be using to teach different skills and techniques. In this lesson, he explains the tune and asks that you get it under your belt before moving on.Length: 6:42 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Mark Nelson touches on singing and backing up a singer in this lesson. He uses the song "'Ulupalakua" as an example and explains the lyrics.Length: 25:02 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson demonstrates some fun variations to spice up your playing using the song "Ulupalakua" as an example.Length: 29:23 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson wraps up this tune by demonstrating two similar songs you may play now that you have "Ulupalakua" under your belt.Length: 8:01 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson introduces the catchy "Hula Blues" in this lesson. He asks that you get the song under your belt before moving on to the lessons to follow.Length: 20:22 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson continues his instruction on the catchy tune "Hula Blues" with some fun variations.Length: 23:33 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson continues the "Hula Blues" with a lesson on lyrics and singing. Mark demonstrates some useful tips and tricks to get you going.Length: 15:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson introduces a new slack key tune called "‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e" in this lesson. As usual, Mark starts off by going over each section of the song and asks that you to get it down before moving...Length: 23:41 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson shows off some fun variations for the catchy slack key tune "‘Opihi Mo‘emo‘e." His primary goal for this lesson is to help make this song unique to your personal style.Length: 13:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson wraps up the tune "Opihi Mo‘emo‘e" in this lesson, providing full tab and discussing song structure.Length: 11:50 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
In this short miniseries wrap-up, Mark Nelson slides into his own version of the blues, slack key style.Length: 5:00 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson introduces and explains an open Bb major tuning in this miniseries introduction.Length: 14:09 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Mark Nelson goes over a tune called "Green Rose Hula" in the beautiful B flat tuning.Length: 12:25 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
In this lesson, Mark Nelson takes a look at more complex harmonies while teaching the beautiful song "Pua Lilia".Length: 12:57 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Mark Nelson wraps up his open Bb tuning miniseries with a look at a song you might recognize from previous lessons, "‘Ulupalakua".Length: 10:28 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
About Mark Kailana Nelson
View Full Biography
Ki Ho `alu, or slack key guitar, is a uniquely Hawaiian music. Legend has it that Spanish cowboys hired to teach cattle handling in the 1830's brought the first guitars the Polynesians had seen. Until very recently, slack key
was almost unknown outside of the Islands.
Mark's lifelong interest in slack key led him to write "Learn to Play Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar" (Mel Bay Publications), with legendary Hawaiian musician Keola Beamer â€“ the first widely available instruction method for this gentle art. Keola and Mark co-host the Aloha Music Camp â€“ an immersion into the music and culture of Hawaii held each summer in the Hawaiian Islands.
Mark's 2004 CD, "The Water is Wide," brings together the nahenahe sounds of slack key guitar with the sweet sounds of the dulcimer. In 2006 he released "Old Time Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar," nineteen classic Hawaiian songs recorded live in the studio. A book of note-for-note transcriptions in Tab and standard notation facilitates learning the songs.. His most recent book and CD set, "Ke Kukima Polinahe," is the first-ever recording of traditional slack key music arranged for the dulcimer.
Mark began playing guitar and bass professionally at the not-so-tender age of 12. Over the years he's added a number of instruments, including mandolin, `ukulele, bodhran and the Appalachian dulcimer and its European kin.
In the early 1970's Mark was one of a handful of free-spirited musicians who created a whole new vocabulary for the Appalachian dulcimer and guitar. He created a driving flatpicking dulcimer style, playing the instrument with a force and passion seldom heard before. A first place win at the National Mountain Dulcimer Championships in Winfield, Kansas in 1979 led to appearances at festivals, colleges and coffeehouses across North America and Europe, and a recording career spanning over 25 years.
He's an engaging performer, artfully weaving stories and humor with heartfelt music to transport the audience. Mark has performed just about everywhere from Barrow to Boston; Sligo to San Diego. He's shared the stage with performers as diverse as Grover Washington, Jr.; Norton Buffalo; Phoebe Snow, Doc Watson, George Winston and many others. He once worked as a banjo playing gorilla in Dublin, but that's another story...
"Nelson is a musician who possesses that rare combination of insight and talent necessary to successfully transcend conventional concepts of genre and culture."
John Berger, Honolulu Star-Bulletin
"Every once in a while a musician comes along who can make an instrument speak in tongues"
Deseret News, Salt Lake City
"Mark Nelson seems to be on to something new and sweet with his marriage of Appalachian dulcimer and Hawaiian slack key guitar. Drizzle is one of the most achingly beautiful slack key numbers heard in years."
Danny Carnahan, Acoustic Guitar Magazine
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Duke Walls, Hana, Maui
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