The Descendants

Here’s the track list of the soundtrack of The Descendants, the drama comedy movie directed by Alexander Payne and starring George Clooney:

The Descendants Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

1. Ka Makani Ka ‘Ili Aloha
2. Kalena Kai
3. Hi ‘Ilawe
4. ‘Ulilie
5. Pine Tree Slack Key
6. Auwe
7. Leahi
8. Hawaiian Skies
9. He’eia
10. ‘Ima Au Ia ‘Oe
11. Kaua ‘I Beauty
12. Hi’ilawe
13. Wai O Ke Aniani
14. Pua Hone
15. Hapuna Sunset
16. Deep In An Ancient Hawaiian Forest
17. Mom
18. Ka Mele Oku’u Pu ‘Uwai
The Descendants Song - The Descendants Music - The Descendants Soundtrack

The Descendants is the first mainstream American movie scored exclusively with Hawaiian music, most of it created by acknowledged masters of the genre, both modern and classical Gabby Pahinui, Ray Kane, Keola Beamer, Lena Machado, Sonny Chillingworth, Jeff Peterson, and Rev. Dennis Kamakahi, among others. The filmmakers sought to make a movie with a distinctly Hawaiian flavor, and the music was a crucial component. As well as echoing the experience of watching the film, The Descendants soundtrack will reveal to listeners the soulful and emotional spectrum of Hawaiian music over the decades and serve as an eye-opening introduction to some of Hawaiian music s greatest and most essential artists.

You may check below samples of the songs of the Descendants soundtrack:

The movie soundtrack of The Descendants will be released on November 22, 2011.

56 Responses - “The Descendants”

  1. richard ford

    you noted Craig Armstrong as the composer of this all Hawaiian soundtrack. while an amazing talent, he had nothing to do with the film or the music in the film!


    Richard Ford
    executive music producer, the descendants

  2. Movie Soundtrack

    Thanks for alerting us Richard!

  3. Melanie Hauck

    Which song on the “The Descendants” soundtrack was written by Queen Liliuokalani?

  4. richard ford

    On the soundtrack the song ‘Ima Au Ia Oe’ performed by Kealo Beamer, was written by [or credited to] Charles E King, who stamped his name on many traditional songs. Queen Liliuokalani wrote a song with the same title which could have been absorbed into his song.
    Info about the song –>here

    Also in the film, but not on the soundtrack is an excerpt from ‘Sanoe’ performed by Danny Carvalho, which is one of the many songs Queen Liliuokalani wrote.

  5. Jun

    When in the movie is Sanoe played?

  6. richard ford

    The excerpt from Danny Carvalho’s rendition of Sanoe is played after Matt King talks to Julie Speer on the beech – a little montage of rain falling, thru the the family walking up to Tahiti Nui bar.

    The melody of Sanoe is not in the excerpt used in the film so it’s not recognizable as such.

  7. Ai

    Richard, I appreciate your quick response. I’m not sure I understand. The melody used was not Sanoe? It’s a pretty recognizable melody so I’m trying to understand what excerpt was actually used. Also why were two versions of the same song (Hi’ilawe) listed on the soundtrack? I am in love with the soundtrack and wish Sanoe, written by Queen Lili’uokalani, would have made the cut on the cd. Mahalo nui!

  8. richard ford


    There are many reasons why a certain piece of music is used in a particular scene in a film. Sometimes it’s because of the melody and sometimes it is more to do with the feel and instrumentation of a piece (or excerpt of a piece) and how that works with the visuals of a scene. In this instance the feel and tonality of this particular section was the deciding factor as to what was used from Danny Carvahlo’s version of Sanoe. If you listen to his piece there is a section towards the end [where he strays away from the melody] that this is taken from. There is no denying the beauty of the Sanoe melody, but in this instance it was not the primary deciding factor.
    As far as the soundtrack choices – they were made by the director and music supervisor. I believe there are 2 versions of Hi’ilawe on the soundtrack because they were strikingly different from each other. And both used prominently in the film.
    I hope this has helped answer your question. Mahalo.

  9. Jesse gift

    You all may want to see this video story we did on how Richard used this amazing pre-recorded music as the soundtrack. Please enjoy, ‘the Dedendants, the Film’s Music story:

    “the Decendants” the Film’s Music Story

    Cheers, Jesse
    Producer/Director, Camera, and Avid Editor

  10. Mitch G


    I’ve been searching high and low for a song in the movie. It plays throughout the second trailer and is also in the credits. Can you please notify me with its name?


  11. Richard Ford

    Hi Mitch,

    You are looking for the Earnest Tavares version of Hi’ilawe.

  12. samantha

    @richard ford, man i have been looking for the person who sings that song for the last two hours. you have made my day sir, thank you so much!

  13. Mitch G

    Thank you so much Richard!

  14. bern

    can anyone name the yodel song in the soundtract of the decendants? thanks

  15. Michael


    Can you tell me who the group is (and/or the song) that’s played by a trio in the restaurant scene. The one where Clooney tells his daughter to order something for him while he talks to Beau Bridges? Didn’t find it on the soundtrack clips.

  16. richard ford

    the group in the bar is ‘kanak attack’ they are a local band. there was no recording of the band other than when they filmed the scene.
    the yodeling song in the bar is called [wait for it…]
    ‘the yodel song’ written by Gary Haleamau



  17. Michael

    Thanks, Richard. So glad I found this site!

  18. noni

    Freddie and Ernie Tavares’ song “Hi’ilawe” is track #19 from the 1959 collection ‘Hukilau Hulas’. Luckily, Amazon still has this and you can purchase this single song:

    Curiously, the movie soundtrack doesn’t include this, but does include two versions. One by Gabby Pahinui and the other by Sonny Chillingsworth.

  19. richard ford

    Here is a link to a podcast interview i did about the process of how the film’s soundtrack came about. hope you guys enjoy it.

    –>The Descendants -Creating the Film’s Soundtrack
    By Drofy Music Edting

    In this fascinating interview, Richard Ford, Executive Music Producer of “The Descendants” reveals to film composer Mark Governor how the music score for the Golden Globe winning film was created using existing authentic Hawaiian Music. The Descendants was directed by Academy Award winner Alexander Payne and stars George Clooney. The film’s music features Hawaiian slack key guitar artists, Gaby Pahinui, Keola Beamer, Jeff Peterson, Sonny Chillingworth and Makana.

  20. Emilie

    Hi! I was wondering if anyone could tell me what is the name of the songs that plays near then end when they are on the boat and WARNING SPOILER they throw the ashes into the ocean. It’s a guitar composition that I would very much love to hear again. Thank you very much.

  21. richard ford

    hi Emille,

    that piece is by Makana – ‘Deep in an Ancient Hawaiian Forest’. It’s on the soundtrack.

  22. Emilie

    Oh that’s great! I will go by that immediatly!
    Thanks a lot! :)

  23. marie

    can anyone tell me what’s the name of the song playing when the King family is sitting on the couch watching tv at the end of the movie ?

    Thank you very much !

  24. richard ford

    hi marie,

    the piece you are looking for is Ka Makani Ka ‘Ili Aloha by Gaby Pahinui. it’s on the soundtrack!



  25. Barbara Ke'alohilani Slone

    Just out of curiosity, was any attempt made to decipher whether a song would be appropriate for a particular scene after viewing a translation into English? I am of Hawaiian descent and one of my friends who is quite good in Olelo (Hawaiian language) told me that she thought that some consideration should have been given to the meaning of a song before just sticking it into a scene because someone thought it sounded good at that point in the film. She felt that many of the songs were inappropriate for a given scene based on the meaning of the song. This being said, I am so happy that you used some of the old time late great composers and players. I dearly miss so many of them and it was very nostalgic for me to hear such hauntingly beautiful voices as those of Uncle Raymond Kane and Gabby Pahinui. Thanks for deciding to use real Hawaiian music made by a variety of real Hawaiians. I am happy that Hawaiian musicians would be well paid for use of their music (including the relatives of those who are deceased).

  26. Ai

    They mention why they decided to go with certain songs even though the lyrics may not have totally matched the scene on this podcast (–> here).

    In the end the love of Hawaii, the place and the people, is felt through the film and music chosen.

    For the producers, that being said, what are the chances of a second soundtrack? THE DESCENDANTS VOLUME 2 has a nice ring to it.

    And if you’re going to put Hi’ilawe on it again, check out Sudden Rush’s version. Would love to hear Sanoe by the Queen in its entirety.

    Rooting for The Descendants to win at Oscar’s!

  27. Tony Lynam

    Richard, I grew up on Oahu and have been a big fan of Hawaiian music and listen to it more and more in my adult life so I was just blown away to hear many of my favorite artists on the soundtrack. I could have sworn I heard Ray Kane’s “Popoki Slack Key” a couple of times in the movie but did not find it on the soundtrack. Is that correct?

  28. richard ford

    Hi Tony,

    the only Ray Kane track we used in the film was “Auwe’, which is on the soundtrack. The only piece with a similar feel [though the tuning is probably different] is ‘Pine Tree Slack Key’ by Pancho Graham. It’s not on the soundtrack [the above track listing is incorrect], the song has lyrics in english but we used just the instrumental sections of the song. It was used in the montage when the family is walking on the beach in Kau’ai reminiscing about Elisabeth King.

    So glad you enjoyed the music. It’s been a thrill working with and listening to such beautiful songs.


  29. Lynn Wirth

    Hi – why can’t I find The Yodel Song on the Soundtrack?
    Thanks. Lynn

  30. Dan C

    What is the song playing at the end in the hospital scene? It sounds like it’s played on a single guitar but I don’t know what it is.

  31. richard ford


    that is Makana ‘Deep In An Ancient Hawaiian Forest’. It’s on the soundtrack.



  32. Mai

    I heard there was some music in this movie by George Kahumoku, is this true?

  33. richard ford


    there is a short piece by george kahumoku, jr that is used when we meet the ‘sid’ character in the film.



  34. liz

    Hi there, is there anyway to get the English translation of the songs on the soundtrack?

  35. richard ford


    i think you might have to do an internet search for each song. i’m not aware or anything else. sorry.

  36. Ai

    For song translations, try HUAPALA (Hawaiian Music and Hula Archives) –>here

  37. liz

    Thank-you all for your responses. I will try each suggestion.

  38. Derek

    My wife and I just watched the movie. I was floored by the beautiful guitar work throughout. Just gorgeous instrumentals. And though each song was obviously distinct, the guitar instrumentals sounded to me like they came from the same player. Is this true…or were they all different guitarists?

  39. Derek

    Well– looks like I answered my own question. I just googled Keola Beamer and Jeff Peterson and watched them play slack key guitar on some posted videos. So beautiful. And yes—I’ll be getting the sound track!

  40. Lorrie

    Just want to give kudos to the entire movie crew. I have a deep love for Hawai’i and this movie captured the feel of the islands so well for me and my husband we kept saying, “Can you smell it?!!” Beautiful picture, beautiful story, beautiful music, beautiful execution!

  41. edd.

    The song played on the dvd menu… it sounds like a Hawaiian version of “brother flower” originally written by townes van zandt. Can anyone confirm this?

  42. christoper

    What is the name of the song played on guitar by George kahumoku when we are introduced Sid . It is wonderful.

  43. richard ford

    hi chris,

    that song is ‘Interlude #1’ by George Kahamuko Jr.

  44. Mar

    The song “Mom” at the end, do you know if David Alan Coe or Merle Haggard has ever recorded it? Thought I heard one of them sing it in Ft. Worth outdoor concert once but can’t find it on any of their albumns. Where would I go to find anymore info?

  45. Rob

    Fantastic soundtrack. Bought the soundtrack from iTunes and REALLY wanted the Tevares version of Hi’ilawe…no luck.

    SO…found it from a vendor on eBay.

    Ships in five days.


  46. joe

    Hi Richard,

    I’m looking for the name of the song that was playing after they visited their land in Kauai. They were in the car driving to the hotel. Thanks

  47. richard ford

    hi joe,

    the beautiful song you are referring to is Dennis Kamakahi’s ‘Pua Hone’.


  48. pauline m

    mom…was originally written by prince tui teka who has now passed on. Hails from new Zealand and it’s named “oh mum” or “mum” what ticked me off it was said in the credits written and performed by someone other than him and then used the American term for mum..i.e. mom. . really think that stinks people. who ever allowed that should of at least respected the original songwriter and given him his due credit!

  49. Matiu R

    Tena koe Pauline M,
    I too was surprised and a shocked to see Mom credits go to Lena Machado. I grew up with that song, sung it at parties and everyone knew Prince Tui Teka wrote the song “Oh Mum” when he was living in Australia. However, 20 minutes of Google have given me a fresh insight. Mrs Machado died in 1973, nearly a decade prior to Tui releasing his version. Also, Mrs Machado only released one album of material in the 60’s during her lifetime.
    Excellent film and soundtrack by the way.
    Kia ora

  50. Dondi B.

    Hi Pauline, I think you may be misinformed. Mom was written in the 40s. It’s a WWII song. Prince Tui Kea was probably 5 years old when it was written and recorded. The artist who sings it in The Descendants, Lena Machado, is also the composer. It is a very well known song in Hawaii.

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