The Vibrant Sounds of the Hawaiian Falsetto Festival

The Hawaiian Falsetto Festival is a celebration of traditional Hawaiian music and culture that takes place annually on the island of Maui. This festival showcases the unique and beautiful art of falsetto singing, a style that has been passed down through generations in Hawaii.

The Origins of Falsetto Singing in Hawaii

Falsetto singing has been a part of Hawaiian music for centuries, with its roots tracing back to ancient chants and hula dances. In traditional Hawaiian culture, falsetto singing was reserved for men and was often used to express love and longing for their homeland or a special someone. However, it wasn't until the 19th century when Portuguese immigrants arrived in Hawaii to work on sugar plantations that falsetto singing truly flourished. These immigrants brought with them their own musical traditions, including the use of falsetto in their folk songs.

This influence fused with the existing Hawaiian music, creating a unique and distinct sound that is now synonymous with Hawaiian falsetto.

The Rise of the Hawaiian Falsetto Festival

The first Hawaiian Falsetto Festival was held in 1980 by George Kahumoku Jr., a renowned musician and cultural ambassador. Kahumoku wanted to preserve and promote the art of falsetto singing, which was slowly fading away due to the rise of modern music styles. Since then, the festival has grown in popularity and has become a highly anticipated event for both locals and tourists alike. It is now organized by the non-profit organization, the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame, and attracts some of the best falsetto singers from all over Hawaii.

The Types of Music Featured at the Festival

The Hawaiian Falsetto Festival showcases a variety of traditional Hawaiian music styles, with falsetto being the main focus. However, there are also other genres and instruments featured, making it a diverse and vibrant celebration of Hawaiian culture.

Hawaiian Chants:

As mentioned earlier, falsetto singing has its roots in ancient Hawaiian chants.

These chants are an integral part of the festival and are performed by skilled chanters who have mastered the art of storytelling through song.


Hula is a traditional Hawaiian dance that is often accompanied by singing. At the festival, hula dancers perform to the beautiful sounds of falsetto singing, adding a visual element to the music.


Mele is a general term for Hawaiian songs and encompasses a wide range of musical styles. At the festival, you can expect to hear mele in various forms, from traditional chants to modern compositions.

Kani Ka Pila:

Kani Ka Pila literally translates to "let's make music" and is a popular form of jamming in Hawaii. At the festival, there are opportunities for musicians and attendees to join in on these impromptu jam sessions, creating a lively and interactive atmosphere.

Ukulele Music:

The ukulele is an iconic instrument in Hawaiian music and is often used in falsetto singing.

At the festival, you can expect to hear some incredible ukulele performances from both seasoned musicians and up-and-coming talents.

The Importance of Preserving Hawaiian Music

The Hawaiian Falsetto Festival not only celebrates traditional Hawaiian music but also plays a crucial role in preserving it for future generations. With the rise of modern music and Western influences, there is a risk of traditional Hawaiian music being lost and forgotten. By showcasing the beauty and richness of Hawaiian music, the festival helps to keep these traditions alive and pass them on to younger generations. It also serves as a platform for up-and-coming musicians to showcase their talents and continue the legacy of Hawaiian music.


The Hawaiian Falsetto Festival is a vibrant and culturally significant event that celebrates the unique art of falsetto singing and traditional Hawaiian music. It is a must-visit for anyone interested in immersing themselves in the rich culture of Hawaii and experiencing its beautiful music firsthand. So, if you ever find yourself on the island of Maui during the festival, be sure to attend and witness the magic of Hawaiian falsetto for yourself.

Shelia Oregon
Shelia Oregon

Incurable food junkie. Incurable web scholar. Infuriatingly humble tv evangelist. Subtly charming beer ninja. Friendly beer aficionado. Friendly twitter evangelist.

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