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Music of Hawai'i

Music of Hawai'i | Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Music has always been an important part of native Hawaiian culture. In early Hawai'i, mele (chant) paid homage to gods and remembered the actions of powerful people with drums and dancing. The small string of islands in the Pacific Ocean has also attracted sailors, explorers, and migrant workers, who all left their marks. Following the arrival of Europeans, Christian hymns and string instruments influenced native music and contributed to the development of new forms. In the mid 20th century, immigrants from Puerto Rico, Spain, Mexico, and Japan brought their own styles of music and singing. Both contemporary and traditional musical styles still thrive in Hawai'i.