The Musical Traditions of a Tropical Paradise

Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches and landscapes, but it also has some unique musical traditions. All tourists should get the chance to experience the state through the sites and sounds of traditional Hawaiian music.

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Anytime you go to Hawaii you can guarantee it is s going to be great. Plus, you can really spoil yourself and go for the full on celebrity experience by staying at a luxurious rental home designed to please any star. It is always fun to get pampered, but you also need to get out and experience the culture of Hawaii. So when you aren’t relaxing at one of your Maui vacation rentals fit for a rockstar, check out Hawaii’s music scene.

Of course tourists can experience popular music like modern rock and hip-hop, but traditional folk music plays a large part in the musical heritage of Hawaii. Hawaiians have been able to retain the state’s traditional music knowledge from centuries ago. Traditional Hawaiian folk music has peaceful rhythms and usually includes chanting and dance music.


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Instruments have played a large role in shaping Hawaii’s music. The ultimate music symbol of Hawaii is the ukulele, which is a high-pitched, four-stringed instrument that is shaped like a mini guitar. The slack key guitar is known around the world, but originated in Hawaii. The steel guitar is also from Hawaii and has become a main staple in country music. The ‘Ohe hano ihu, also known as the Traditional Hawaiian Nose Flute, is made from a single section of bamboo. It is usually played for fun or privately, but it also been known to be played alongside chants and hula. Even some notable jazz performers are from Hawaii like saxophone player Gabe Bltazar, pianist Rene Paulo, and drummer/ukulele player Abe Lagrimas Jr.

HawaiiMusic festivals are common throughout the tropical islands of Hawaii. One of the largest festivals is the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival. Hula groups from around the world come to Hawaii for the weeklong event. Aloha Week, which takes place every April, is a popular tourists favorite and so is the Moloka’I Music Festival held around Labor Day. Hawaii also hosts a number of guitar festivals like the Big Island Slack Key Guitar Festival, the Gabby Pahinui/Atta Isaacs Slack Key Festival and the Steel Guitar Association Festival. Every autumn, the Pacific Rim Jazz Festival comes to the Hawaii Convention Center and the Manoa Jazz and Heritage Festival is held at the Andrews Amphitheatre at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

Due to all of the music festivals that come to Hawaii every year, the state is known for some large music venues that always host great events. The Performing Arts Center at the University of Hawaii at Hilo seats about 600 guests. It also happens to be the largest concert venue on the Big Island. The Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center is a cultural exhibition center that has a 560-seat venue. One of the largest venues in the state is the Neal S. Blasidell Center Arena, Concert Hall and Exhibition Hall in Honolulu. A lot of the hotels and local establishments also have venues and areas where they can host a variety musical events.

Who knew that a vacation in Hawaii could turn into a musical experience? If you ever get the chance to visit Hawaii, you must take time to go out and explore all of the wonders of Hawaiian traditional folk music.