Hawaiian music is a captivating blend of many influences, with tranquil rhythms and poetic lyrics that pay tribute to the beauty of the islands. Traditional Hawaiian music was mainly composed of singing and dancing (hula) accompanied by percussion instruments, and was used for religious ceremonies, festivities, and entertainment. In the 19th century, Western string instruments and Christian hymns were brought to Hawaii, transforming previous forms of Hawaiian music and providing the components for new musical styles. Nowadays, songs are usually sung with a ukulele or steel guitar, sometimes accompanied by a steel-string guitar. Melodies usually have an interval jump, such as a perfect fourth or octave, and falsetto vocals are suitable for these jumps and are common in Hawaiian singing, as is the use of microtones.
The loose guitar music is a unique Hawaiian synthesis of traditional Hawaiian vocal styles with elements of Western music. King David Kalakaua, the Hawaiian ruler considered a true Renaissance man, encouraged a musical revival and urged all Hawaiians to use music as an expression of Hawaiian pride. During the 1970s, several Hawaiian musicians staged a musical revival to revive music and cultural traditions, such as Slack Key, Leo Kiʻekiʻe, traditional hula, the Hawaiian language, and other suppressed cultural practices. The ukulele is the ultimate symbol of Hawaiian music and is synonymous with island aloha. Like the folk music of other early civilizations, ancient Hawaiian music was a form of oral history and storytelling. Our elders or kupuna taught the keiki (children) a combination of songs and dances that transmitted our ancestry, mythology, genealogy and emotion. Hawaii's rich music is unlike any other in the world.
It is an expression of aloha that has been passed down through generations and continues to be shared today.