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Throughout the course of history, we have seen the reoccurring patterns of external influences on indigenous populations, and how each newcomer altered the musical traditions of many countries. Whether these alterations are accidental or calculated, transformations as results of colonization and tourism are inevitable. This eventually brings about the question: to what extent is a nation’s music truly considered to be its own? Both the samba in Brazil and Hawaiian music have been substantially modified when compared to their original, native styles. These changes were poorly received by the indigenous people, for they are discontent to see uniqueness and customary practices blend into a form of structuralized institution. However, it is accurate to presume that without the support of external influences, traditional musical styles would have possibly vanished altogether. This preservation of indigenous music is of great importance, although the distinction between traditional and modernized is rather ambiguous to many people around the world.

From an outsider’s perspective, we can see that Carnival is an extremely spirited and vibrant festival, with a multitude of singers and dancers performing the on the streets. Citizens of Rio de Janeiro, on the other hand, declare, “The Carnival has lost its authenticity, its spontaneity, and its popular flavor (Raphael 73).” This is true, because the samba originated from the slums and was derived from African religious ceremonies. Initially shunned by Portuguese Brazilians as inferior, it was far different than the celebratory and animated styles of modern-day samba. When asked to explain the original purpose of samba, a dancer says, “It was our family, our Sunday stroll, our lover. It was all we really knew of happiness there on the morro (Raphael 74).” It seems that the samba turned out to be far less casual while becoming more secularized and impersonal. Similarly, in Hawaii, the music has deviated far from its traditional values, which misleads outsiders towards acceptance of an inaccurate vision of Hawaiian music. For instance, the popular hapa haole songs, which contained English lyrics, were produced by non-Hawaiians, but the rest of the world viewed it as authentic. This poses a severe problem, because people will start to lose their cultural identity based on this misinformation. It is unfortunate that “even among many Hawaiian themselves, who heard the music play all around them, took on this false culture and negative images as part of their heritage (Lewis 192).”

In both areas, citizens feel a sense of disillusionment that comes with change. When an elderly sambista recalls, “people just put on their straw hats and their sandals and did what they wanted (Raphael 78),” she reminisces over the time when everything used to be simple and not regarded as a competition. But now, the blocos are organized, and many samba dancers considered this to be less entertaining than Carnivals of the past. Instead of having freedom of expression, samba schools paid professionals to make the dance seem more professional. Likewise, native Hawaiians also reacted negatively towards commercialization by creating a backlash by composing songs about the destruction of their land, criticism towards tourists, and preserving Hawaiian traditions.

Tourism has played a prominent role in the preservation of these musical genres. While many indigenous people strongly opposed the disintegration of their culture wrought by this industry, it still provided musicians with the ultimate source of income. When the Brazilian police tried to eradicate music associated with “slum-dwellers,” the samba nearly died out in Brazil. It was not until the 1920s, when singers began steal songs written by slum dwellers, that it became more popularized. Brazilians were able to create schools and receive financial support from the government, thereby developing institutions whose intent was to please the public and render monetary gain. Even though this new form of samba was the complete opposite of that of the Afro-Brazilian community, with elaborate displays of wealth centered on white, middle-class participants, there are still nuances of original samba techniques that remain. In Hawaii, a similar situation occurs. George Kanahele of the Hawaiian music foundation says, “ Tourism has enabled them to become better artists, develop new techniques, research the past, and revive old songs.” In a certain sense, it is the musician’s job to appeal to the public, which is probably why some Hawaiians accepted a false sense of identity in their music. Although they would love to perform for an audience full of local people as opposed to tourists who have absolutely no understanding of the customs, it is the latter that essentially provides economic support.

There are reoccurring trends around the world that demonstrates how outsiders held a significant influence on traditional musical practices. In many cases, the music of a nation has diverged far from its origins, but nevertheless, bits of the original structures and styles are still intact. As seen through the commentary by samba dancers and Hawaiian performers, it is evident that natives feel dissatisfied by these alterations, but at the same time, the modernized music provides an indispensable contribution towards the tourism industry.
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