Hawaiian is unique among the fifty states, especially in regards to its native music form, which is still preformed, and captivates audiences even today. Hawaiian chanting, music, and dance are not only key parts of life on the island, but have also become cultural icons as well as profound symbols of nature and religion in Hawaii. Hawaii has a rich history, beginning with the early settlers from Polynesia who brought their traditions and religions to Hawaii. Over the years, the inhabitants took those traditions and adapted them to their new home, creating the definitive culture that, even with Western influences, still is a captivating force within the society.
Hawaii was originally settled by Polynesian pioneers as early as the fourth century. The islands had no contact with the western world until 1787, when Captain James Cook discovered it. In 1810, king Kamehameha I unified Hawaii under his rule, establishing a monarchy that would last almost ninety years. In 1894 the monarchy was overthrown and the short-lived Republic of Hawaii was born, only lasting four years. In 1898, the United States annexed Hawaii and made it one of their territories. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state in the United States.
Hawaii’s population is diverse and unique. The islands are the most racially diverse state in the Unites States; in fact there are, no racial majorities in the Hawaii. 38.3% of the population is Asian while only 26.1% is Caucasian. Because of the diversity of citizens and the mix of Western idea with Hawaiian traditions, Hawaii has a varied and ethnically assorted culture. However, many citizens still practice the religion and traditions of their ancestors through their music and dance. The most important influence of Hawaiian music is the native religion. The indigenous people held a polytheistic religious tradition with elements of animism and an emphasis on nature. The Hawaiians had a pantheon of gods, goddesses; each deity being associated with a certain aspect or object of the physical world. Each god or goddess was able to manifest itself in physical objects and natural phenomenon such as storms, volcanoes, and corps. The pantheon of gods included a few major deities, which included: Kane, Ku, Kanaloa, and lono. In Hawaii, olis were often chanted to the gods to honor and praise them. They are often incorporated into worship and are used in combination with dance to praise the spirits which reside in nature. The most important deity in regards to Hawaiian music is the goddess Pele, who is said to have found the hula, and is now the patron goddess of it. She is also the goddess of fire and volcanoes, because of this; she is revered highly in the Hawaiian culture.
Traditional music in Hawaii was not originally used for entertainment, but instead, for worship. It was not until the modern age, when Western influences began to emerge and tourists began to arrive, that the music was used as...