Hawaiian Music

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Hawaiian folk music is a traditional music in Hawaii which includes several varieties of chanting, called mele, and the music meant for highly-ritualized dance, called hula. It was functional, used to express praise, communicate genealogy and mythology and accompany games, festivals and other secular events. Language and text meaning are important determinants of Hawaiian music. Mele or chanting was the poetry that could be brought into existence only through music. It is simple in melody and rhythms but is complex and rich in poetry. Hawaiian music has had a big impact on the music of other Polynesian islands. One of the music authors, Peter Manuel, called the influence of Hawaiian music is a “unifying factor in the development of modern Pacific music” (Hawaiian music and musicians: an illustrated history. Honolulu, 1979 page 7)

The monarchy, King Kalakaua and his sister, Liliuokalani, also played a part in Hawaii’s musical history. They composed songs that mixed the emotions of Hawaiian with the melodic tunes of Europe. Queen Liliuokalani composed more than 100 songs including the famous “Aloha Oe”. King Kamehameha V was also the original conductor of a band which later became the Honolulu Symphony.

There are three important instruments which involves in Hawaiian music. First was the ukulele. The ukulele is a small guitar was introduced by the Portuguese immigrants. This instrument became a very popular one in Hawaiian culture, and a majority of Hawaiian songs involve the ukulele. In Hawaiian, ukulele literally means “flea jumping” There are four sizes of ukulele; soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. The ukulele is mostly recognized as being Hawaiian, even though it is based on the Portuguese guitar. Second, the ukeke is a Hawaiian musical bow played with the mouth. It is the only stringed instrument indigenous to Hawaii. It is made of hardwood and is believed to have been brought from the Marquesas during the first wave of migrations. Third, the slack...
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