Daniel's Notes

It's unclear to me why the passage of time seems to accelerate with age, but it surely does. I remember it felt like an eternity to graduate from kindergarten and enter the first grade. Each day after lunch, time almost stood still as I anxiously awaited the loud, but welcome ring of St. Patrick School's bell at 2:30 pm. Free at last! It was a short, three-block walk to our house, where we played with friends until Dad came home from work and took us to the beach.

Maybe it's the ever-accumulating, grown-up responsibilities that keep me squeezing minutes out of hours. Maybe it's a creative passion that doesn't know day from night. Either way, years fly by in what feels like days. I've come to realize that creativity has an inverse relationship to responsibility and I should pare life down to the absolute basics--minimizing cluttersome responsibilities to allow time and space for artistic endeavors. This has become an endless work in progress. Polani is a manifestation of this mindset. It was recorded on the simplest of instruments, one that defined my formative years in Hawai'i.

In November 2008, I pushed my paperwork aside and spent most of the month with my 'ukulele. I wrote and arranged these pieces between the hours of 10 pm and 4 am, and recorded them during the day. In my late-night musings, I developed an affinity for two intervals, half-steps and unisons. A half-step is one of the most dissonant intervals in music. However, it can be quite beautiful within the context of its surrounding harmony. I used this sonically dense interval in many of these pieces to enhance otherwise consonant chords. The harmonic opposite of a half-step is the unison, which is the most consonant musical interval. On an 'ukulele, unisons are produced by playing the same pitch on different strings (for example, the open A string and the 5th fret of the E string). Unisons provide smooth harmonic and melodic transitions because one of the notes, usually an open string, sustains as other musical elements change.

I used ostinatos (repeating musical figures) in the arrangements to create energy, counterpoint (inner lines moving independently of the melody) to add interest, and almost always chose extended chords (chords containing color tones to enrich the harmony) over basic triads. All songs are played fingerstyle to articulate the melody, harmony and bass parts independently.

In the end, this solo 'ukulele project wasn't all that simple. The music-making process is fairly involved, but the ultimate goal remains singular--to form an emotional connection with the audience. As it did for me, I hope these recordings offer a pleasant break from routine and reality. It took me back to those childhood days when I used to drive my family crazy playing the only song I knew, A Song for Anna, over and over again. There was no escaping me as I incessantly plucked about our little house in Kaimuki.


Honolulu Star-Advertiser  – February 10, 2011

Island Mele: Grammys ‘Polani’ review by John Berger

Daniel Ho may not be the busiest guy in the Hawaiian record business — such a ranking would be impossible to establish — but the four-time Grammy Award-winner has been busy in recent months as a record producer, song writer, recording artist and studio musician backing other artists.

He wears the first three of those four “hats” with this album of solo ukulele instrumentals.

Taken at surface value it is a simple project perfect for casual listening or as background music.

There is, however, more going on here.

Ho explains in the liner notes that he wrote the 11 original pieces partly for his own personal enjoyment and partly to explore the musical concepts of half-steps and unisons.  For the benefit of everyone whose college major wasn’t music theory and composition he explains that half-steps are the dissonant intervals between notes, and unisons are their opposite.  He also explains how he creates them on ukulele.

Nothing is more helpful in fully appreciating a recording than knowing what the artist was intending to do and how they approached the process.  Having that information is another reason to buy “Polani” rather than one of the many other ukulele instrumental albums out there.

Set aside the technical aspects and “Polani” is also a perfect choice for anyone trying to mellow out after dealing with rush hour gridlock or drama on the home front.


    Daniel Ho - ‘ukulele, recording, mixing, mastering, graphic design

    Lydia Miyashiro - photography

    Doug Katsumoto - additional graphic design, ‘ukulele drawing

Daniel plays KoAloha ‘ukuleles.
Record Label: Daniel Ho Creations
Release Date: April 2010
Catalog number: DHC 80065
UPC: 644718006529

  1. 1.Pala'ela'e (Bright as Sun) 3:23

  2. 2.Ho'okahi (In Solitude) 3:29

  3. 3.Ahe Lau Makani 2:42

  4. 4.Hana Malie (Quietly) 2:47

  5. 5.Polani (Pure) 3:19

  6. 6.Kulewa (Moving Like Clouds) 2:27

  7. 7.Ho'opa'ani (Playful) 3:20

  8. 8.Pule Nahenahe (Soft Prayer) 2:28

  9. 9.Ho'omaika'i (Grateful) 3:11

  10. 10. Holona (Sailing) 2:47

  11. 11. Ho'olana (Hopeful) 3:31

  12. 12. Ho'oipoipo (Romantic) 2:43

Song List



Daniel Ho

  1. audio demo

  2. hi res album art

Original compositions, plus "Ahe Lau Makani" composed by Queen Lili'uokalani, arranged and performed by GRAMMY® winner Daniel Ho.

*ALSO: Polani Songbook

The music of Polani in tablature and notation

CD ONLY - $15

53rd GRAMMY® Nominee!

First 'Ukulele Album in History

Nominated for a GRAMMY®

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CD & BOOK - $33