Hawaiian music consists of a good deal more than Don Ho singing Tiny Bubbles (not that there's anything wrong with that--I like Tiny Bubbles). It's more than grass-skirted hula girls singing Aloha-Oe to groups of tourists.
The influence of Hawaiian music is also greater than most people would suspect. For instance, some musicologists believe that Hawaiian slack-key guitar playing, which surfaced on a number of popular recordings in the early 20th century, inspired the slide guitar sound of the Delta blues.
Thanks to Internet radio, it's possible to explore the true depth and breadth of this beautiful musical genre. There are several Web broadcasters who stream Hawaiian music 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All you need to enjoy it, besides an Internet connection, is media player software, a good sound card and speakers or headphones.
The strumming of ukuleles or Hawaiian guitar will quickly transport you to a sandy South Seas beach lapped by warm waters and sheltered by palm trees. But Hawaiian music can be much more than the soundtrack to a mental vacation. It can also be educational.
For instance, I recently visited the Hawaiian Rainbow Web site, one of the premier providers of free streaming Hawaiian music. While listening to Somewhere Over the Rainbow being by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, I noticed links to sub-sections of the site, organized by island--the Big Island, Kauai, Maui, Molokai, Oahu. Evidently, each island in the Hawaiian chain produces its own distinctive music and boasts its own native performing artists.
I definitely plan to return to the site soon to learn more about the differences and similarities between the different islands' musical traditions. On my first visit, though, I was content to enjoy the all-islands offerings of Hawaiian Rainbow's main streaming music channel. These included E Wai'anae by The Pandanus Club, Hilo Hula by Holunpe, Beautiful 'Ilima by Martin Pahinui, Haleiwa Hula by Gabby Pahinui and Hawai'i Aloha by the Hawaiian All Star Band.
One day I shall visit the tropical paradise of Hawaii in person. Until then, though, I'll always know where to go when I feel the need for a quick mind-trip to the land of leis and coconuts Hawaiian Internet radio.
Stefan Smith is a radio junkie who writes on entertainment and related subjects for the Solid Gold Info Writers Consortium. Recently, he has written an extensive review of new software that anyone can use to capture music audio streams from Internet radio broadcasts and break them up into individual mp3 song files--a legal way to download virtually free music.
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