Pacific island row of volcanic origin, today inhabited by c. 1.4 mio. peole (of which more than 40 % have Asian roots, of which 40 % have Japanese roots). The capital is Honolulu on O'ahu island. From 1810 to 1872, Hawaii was a hereditary monarchy ruled by the Kamehameha dynasty; afterwards the monarch was elected. In 1894, Queen Lili'uokalani was ousted by U.S. American settlers, and Hawaii became a republic. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed by the U.S. Since 1900, it was governed as a Territory of the U.S. The U.S. Navy used it as a base for its pacific fleet. This base was attacked by Japan in 1941. In 1959, Hawaii became a federal state of the U.S.A.



The Hawaiian language ('olelo Hawai'i) belongs to the Malaio-Polynesian languages. Today, the number of native speakers is very small; in everyday life, English is used. Hawaiian is (like Chinese) an isolating language; therefore, verbs or nouns are not inflected. The same word can be used, according to its position in a sentence, as a verb or noun (thus, mele means „to sing“ as well as „a song“). The oldest Hawaiian grammar was compiled in 1837 by the German poet Adalbert von Chamisso.

Hawaiian has no sounds for t and r; instead, k and l are use (tarokalo).



Traditional Polynesian music … shares many abstract characteristics with European romantic music of the nineteenth century. The later influence of Protestant hymn tunes and the introduction of stringed instruments such as guitar and ukulele eventually led to the development of a nontraditional folk music that can best be described as „Pan-Polynesian pop.“ This music, although developed by Polynesians to suit changing Polynesian tastes, endangered the existence of the earlier music styles of the individual island groups.1)
Hawaii Tourist Bureau (1923)


  • Adelbert von Chamisso: Über die Hawaiische Sprache. Leipzig: Weidmann 1837

Adrienne L. Kaeppler: „Polynesian Music, Captain Cook, and the Romantic Movement in Europe.“ In: Music Educators Journal 65:3 (1978:11), S. 54–60, hier S. 60