Hawaiian music plays a big part in the history and culture of the islands and includes a variety of traditional and more modern popular styles that rave from native folk to rock and even hip hop. Despite its smaller size, Hawaii has made a huge musical contribution to the United States and the music world as a whole, introducing traditional styles like slack-key guitar to the world and providing numerous soundtracks to Hollywood movies. Even country music has felt the influences of Hawaiian music with the introduction of steel guitars.
Traditional Hawaiian music is expressed primarily in the form of chanting and music designed to accompany traditional dances and ceremonies and has strong ties to Hawaiian religion. It has long been thought that Hawaiian music has had a huge impact on the unification of the other Polynesian islands. Hawaiian music is celebrated throughout the year with a number of festivals and events including the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, the Big Island Slack Key Guitar Festival, the Gabby Pahinui/Atta Isaacs Slack Key Festival and the Steel Guitar Association Festival as well as Aloha Week and the Moloka'i Music Festival. A number of jazz festivals are also hosted, primarily in Autumn.
Perhaps one of the most famous instruments used in Hawaiian music is the ukulele, a small guitar-like instrument that can be played using finger picking or strumming techniques. Despite its reputation as a distinctly Hawaiian instrument and sound, the ukulele was actually introduced to the islands by Portuguese Madeiran immigrants in the late 19th Century. However, its popularity and long history with the Hawaiian people and culture has seen it become a style of music synonymous with the islands. There are four types of ukulele available, the soprano, concert, tenor and baritone.