Lesson 6: Hawaiian Music

Hawaii may not have formerly become the 50th American state until 1959–can you even imagine the American flag with just 49 stars…?–but it has been in America’s sphere of influence, and part of the American consciousness, since the late 1800s. As we learned during our “folk and country” week, even the most “American” of American musical genres began as a mishmash of global sounds. This week we’ll see how Hawaiian music became part of America’s musical landscape long before Hawaii formally filled out the flag.

Hawaiian Music History: “Before Westerners arrived in the Hawaiian islands, Hawaiian folk music, like much other “pre-contact” music from Polynesia, featured many kinds of chant-songs, known as mele, and much spiritual dance, known as hula….”

Hawaiian Instruments — the Ukulele: “A Hawaiian ‘invention’ that has become popular well beyond the borders of the islands is the ukulele….”

Hawaiian Instruments — Slack Key Guitar: “Slack Key Gutiar is an acoustic, fingerstyle style that arose as a low-key, island-based genre and only since the 1970s has it become well known worldwide….”

Hawaiian Songs — Mele: “Hawaii’s classic folk songs proudly celebrate the love Hawaiians hold for their beautiful island home….”

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