Hoʻokūkū Hīmeni

Each Song Contest is judged by five prominent figures in Hawaiian language and music. The judges score each song using a rubric of predefined criteria. At the end of the night, six coveted awards are presented to the groups with the best performances.

Judges

Two language judges critique the pronunciation and flow of each song's use of Hawaiian language. Two music judges critique the quality, dynamics, and intonation of each song's musical presentation. An overall judge critiques both categories. The judges' scores are tallied to determine the award winners.

The judges' scores determine which groups receive five of the six coveted awards: the George Alanson Andrus Cup for best men's performance, the New England Mothers' Cup for best women's performance, the Charles E. King Cup for best co-ed performance, the Helen Desha Beamer Award for best musical performance, and the Richard Lyman, Jr. ʻŌlelo Makuahine Award for best use of the Hawaiian language.

Scoring system

Under the current scoring system, which has been in place since 1990, a perfect score is 204 points. The scoring system has changed several times over the decades. Perfect scores under previous scoring systems include:

  • 204 points (1990–present)
  • 128 points (1982–1989)
  • 500 points (1969–1981)
  • 100 points (1964–1968)

This page describes the current 204-point scoring system.

For the co-ed, men's, and women's awards, each song's score is calculated by adding up the five judges' scores. The four language and music judges can give a maximum score of 36 points each. The overall judge can give a maximum score of 60 points. Therefore, the songs with the highest score out of 36 × 4 + 60 = 204 points in each division wins an award.

The scores for the music and language awards are calculated differently. Each song's music score is calculated by adding the two music judges' scores (maximum of 36 points each), the overall judge's music score (maximum of 24 points), and the overall judge's "overall impression" score (maximum of 12 points). The language score is calculated in the same way. Therefore, the songs with the highest score out of 36 × 2 + 24 + 12 = 108 points in music and language win those awards.

Sample score sheets

These are samples of the score sheets that judges use to evaluate songs. Each judge has space to write comments for the director.

Using the sample scores below, we can calculate the overall score, music score, and language score for each song. Assuming that the 2 music judges gave the exact same scores, and the 2 language judges gave the exact same scores, the total scores for each song are:

  • Men's song: 179/204 points overall, 101/108 points for music, and 90/108 points for language
  • Women's song: 192/204 points overall, 102/108 points for music, and 100/108 points for language
  • Coed song: 190/204 points overall, 94/108 points for music, and 108/108 points for language

Judge: Overall
Category Men Women Co-ed
Quality of sound (1-6)
tone
6 6 6
Ensemble (1-6)
blend, balance
5 5 6
Interpretation (1-6)
dynamics, tempo
4 6 5
Intonation (1-6)
singing in tune
6 5 5
Ka puana ʻana (2-12 even)
pronunciation and enunciation of words in singing, as opposed to speaking
10 8 12
Nahenahe i ka pepeiao (2-12 even)
overall flow and sound of lyrics as a whole
12 10 12
Overall impression (2-12 even) 12 10 12
Total 55/60 50/60 58/60

Judge: Language
Category Men Women Co-ed
Ka puana ʻana (2-12 even)
pronunciation and enunciation of words in singing, as opposed to speaking
10 12 12
Nahenahe i ka pepeiao (2-12 even)
overall flow and sound of lyrics as a whole
8 12 12
Overall impression (2-12 even) 10 12 12
Total 28/36 36/36 36/36

Judge: Music
Category Men Women Co-ed
Quality of sound (1-6)
tone
5 6 5
Ensemble (1-6)
blend, balance
6 6 5
Interpretation (1-6)
dynamics, tempo
5 5 5
Intonation (1-6)
singing in tune
6 6 5
Overall impression (2-12 even) 12 12 10
Total 34/36 35/36 30/36