DESCRIPTION

Before Captain Cook landed on the islands, Hawaiian music primarily took the form of mele, or chanted poetry, which emphasized the importance of vocal range; in traditional practice, there are over 60 terms for specific voice styles. With the arrival of the Europeans came an influx of new instruments and musical stylings, from Mexican vaquero guitarists to Protestant hymns brought by American missionaries. In the beginning of the twentieth century, Hawaiian music was dominated by hapa haole songs, which featured a mixture of English and Hawaiian lyrics, and were adapted to the successive international trends of ragtime, jazz, and big band music. In spite of the many changes and outside influences brought to the islands, Hawaiians maintained unique vocal styles like falsetto singing, and energetic combinations of melodic ornamentation such as vibratos, slides, and alternating yodels. This playlist surveys some of these Hawaiian singers, from Mike Keliahonui Hanapi, who was one of the first to popularize falsetto singing, to Johnny Noble, who brought Hawaiian music international acclaim.