The Sound of Hawaii

It is seen as a mellow and peaceful, the sound of a summer’s breeze blowing through on a pastoral day, the un-intrusive sound of a paradise. Yet like all native musics it is a collection of many sounds, each adding something a little different, forming a collective dynamic.

Most notably it is the lucidity of the music, this is a sound that has contributed largely to the whole soundscape of America, with Hawaii’s contribution being rather vast and disproportionate in spite of its relatively small size in the grand scheme of the States.

Styles such as the slack-key guitar have contributed majorly to modern rock and pop music, and we hear this as a sound of America, perpetuated throughout American soundtracks, as a sound of freedom and abandon.

The steel-guitar is now popular with blues musicians the world over and has found itself a firm staple within country music, notably with Patsy Cline, appearing on some of the most beloved American songs of all time.

Though Hawaiian music itself is a strange concoction of styles and reference points. A truly pan national semblance of other native musics, punctuated by a deeply Hawaiian presentation. We see this embracive approach to music quite clearly in the form known as Jawaiian.

Jawaiian is the somewhat tongue in cheek name for what is essentially a Hawaiian Reggae. Since its popularisation in the sixties and seventies, Reggae music has become popular over the world especially with marginalised communities such as native Americans and aborigines. In Hawaii ethnic Hawaiians started playing around with the style in the 80s creating their own approach to this distinctly Caribbean music.

The band Simplisity were widely credited as the pioneers of Jawaiian music, promoted by the Honolulu record company Quiet Storm Records. From its birth Jawaiian became very popular, coming to practically dominate the Hawaiian music scene by the early nineties.

Reggae culture in general remains popular in Hawaii, it is hard to work down the street and not see a local sporting a Bob Marley T-shirt, and much local memorabilia comes emblazoned with the Ethiopia flag colours, a nod to the Rastafarian culture proliferated through Reggae.

The traditionally African American form of Jazz also took off in Hawaii in quite a big way in the first half of the 20th century, with musicians enjoying its expression of oppression.

There are many noted names within the Hawaiian jazz canon, with a good number still alive and active, these names include: Henry Allan, Adam Baron, Vic Castelinni, in a list that goes on and on.

Baron is still very much active within the Hawaiian jazz scene today, performing with his band the Honolulu Jazz Quartet.

Honolulu perhaps offers the most access to jazz gigs with a university venue that encourages the form and books local groups very frequently.

Though you don’t especially need to find a venue to appreciate the music here, it is largely running through the streets, playing on most corners.

To truly experience Hawaiian music you most take a trip to the land perhaps staying in one of the It is seen as a mellow and peaceful, the sound of a summer’s breeze blowing through on a pastoral day, the un-intrusive sound of a paradise. Yet like all native musics it is a collection of many sounds, each adding something a little different, forming a collective dynamic. Most notably it is the lucidity of the music, this is a sound that has contributed largely to the whole soundscape of America, with Hawaii’s contribution being rather vast and disproportionate in spite of its relatively small size in the grand scheme of the States. Styles such as the slack-key guitar have contributed majorly to modern rock and pop music, and we hear this as a sound of America, perpetuated throughout American soundtracks, as a sound of freedom and abandon. The steel-guitar is now popular with blues musicians the world over and has found itself a firm staple within country music, notably with Patsy Cline, appearing on some of the most beloved American songs of all time. Though Hawaiian music itself is a strange concoction of styles and reference points. A truly pan national semblance of other native musics, punctuated by a deeply Hawaiian presentation. We see this embracive approach to music quite clearly in the form known as Jawaiian. Jawaiian is the somewhat tongue in cheek name for what is essentially a Hawaiian Reggae. Since its popularisation in the sixties and seventies, Reggae music has become popular over the world especially with marginalised communities such as native Americans and aborigines. In Hawaii ethnic Hawaiians started playing around with the style in the 80s creating their own approach to this distinctly Caribbean music. The band Simplisity were widely credited as the pioneers of Jawaiian music, promoted by the Honolulu record company Quiet Storm Records. From its birth Jawaiian became very popular, coming to practically dominate the Hawaiian music scene by the early nineties. Reggae culture in general remains popular in Hawaii, it is hard to work down the street and not see a local sporting a Bob Marley T-shirt, and much local memorabilia comes emblazoned with the Ethiopia flag colours, a nod to the Rastafarian culture proliferated through Reggae. The traditionally African American form of Jazz also took off in Hawaii in quite a big way in the first half of the 20th century, with musicians enjoying its expression of oppression. There are many noted names within the Hawaiian jazz canon, with a good number still alive and active, these names include: Henry Allan, Adam Baron, Vic Castelinni, in a list that goes on and on. Baron is still very much active within the Hawaiian jazz scene today, performing with his band the Honolulu Jazz Quartet. Honolulu perhaps offers the most access to jazz gigs with a university venue that encourages the form and books local groups very frequently. Though you don’t especially need to find a venue to appreciate the music here, it is largely running through the streets, playing on most corners. To truly experience Hawaiian music you most take a trip to the land perhaps staying in one of the Hawaii rentals from which you can always hear some instrument swaying in the breeze. from which you can always hear some instrument swaying in the breeze.