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Ala Mai Moana

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voice and piano
Year composed:
c. 3:00
A4, pp6, digital download (PDF)
The inspiration for this song is a call to action for Moana to rise up and claim her place in the world. It looks at Moana in three ways: one, as the ocean; two, as the people of the ocean; and three, as a personal reminder from parent to child of the legacy they want to keep alive. The gift that parents can give their children, who are seen as ’oloa or koloa (gifts), includes passing on knowledge and stories, hopes and dreams of the family for their young. The piano accompaniment emulates the waves of the ocean and its rhythmic drive, although in contrast to the melody line sung by the soprano, it is meant to complement the buoyant nature of the lyrics. The text of the song is written in Gagana Samoa (Samoan language), a language rarely associated with Western art music. Choosing to write the lyrics in Samoan pays tribute to my heritage language. The lyrics provided the inspiration for the melody of this song. In traditional Samoan culture, words matter greatly, as encapsulated in one of our proverbial expressions: e pala ma’a, ae e lē pala upu — stones decay, but words do not.