Kī hōʻalu, which literally means “loosen the key,” is a uniquely Hawaiian folk tradition born in the 1800s. Slack key guitar is often confused with and actually pre-dates the more well known Hawaiian lap steel that developed in the late 1880s or 1890s. Slack key was developed by Hawaiian cowboys who “slacked” the strings of guitars brought by Mexican and Spanish cowboys hired by King Kamehameha III to teach Hawaiians better ranching methods. Slack key may be played on any type of guitar but most often an acoustic guitar is used. The strings or “keys” are slacked to produce many beautiful tunings. In 2005, the slack key guitar tradition received national exposure when the compilation Slack Key Guitar Vol. 2 won Best Hawaiian Music Album at the 47th Annual GRAMMY Awards. For more information on Hawaiian slack key guitar, read Dancing Cat Production’s Slack Key Information Booklet.