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More Sounds of the Islands

There are a several recordings of Hawaiian music in the Knott’s collection. Lots of Hawaiian records were pressed in the early twentieth century, when the music of the islands became a popular sensation. Honolulu Magazine published a fascinating article about the fad several years ago.


The Knotts were likely aware that some of their recordings were not actually Hawaiian, but it can be hard to tell at first listen. Here are two examples:

Listen to “In the Heart of Hawaii” by the Hilo Hawaiian Orchestra,

And Pearl of Hawaii, by the Xylo-Rimba Orchestra:

Although these waltzes have a tropical feel, the Discography of American Historical Recordings identifies both of these groups as alter egos of the Green Brothers’ Novelty Band. The Green brothers created content beginning in the cylinder era and eventually provided music for one of the first cartoon films with synchronized sound, Disney’s “Steamboat Willie”. 

There is however a 1915 recording in the Knott’s collection that’s the real deal. Almost nothing is known of Irene West and Her Royal Hawaiians but one of the guitarists, David Kaili, was an early exponent of the Hawaiian steel guitar.


This is not exactly the music of the islands. “Indiana March” is a traditional march that was recorded by several Hawaiian performers.


The flip side has “Minnehaha Medley Waltz,” which appears to have been inspired by the second movement of Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony.

Thus, we have the popular music of the mainland enthralled by the lure of the islands and the Hawaiians drawing on traditional themes using indigenous instrumentation.