mudcat.org: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele

Related threads:
Are ukuleles a real instrument? (127)
Ukulele Thread. (10)
bartione ukulele or tenor guitar? (35)
advice sought ukulele tuning (26)
Ukulele phenomenon (15)
Ukelele masterpiece (28)
Ukeleles? / Ukuleles anyone? (21)
Lyr Add: Songs by Ukulele Ike (Cliff Edwards) (17)
Glue for uke repair? (15)
baritone ukulele/ tenor guitar. (7)
Grizzly Uke Kit (2)
ukelin - instrument (12)
Searching for uke makers (9)
Ukuleles in the news (2)
Ukulele string diameters, please? (16)
Got me a Fluke! (21)
German Ukulele Site (5)
1940's period sound (uke) (26)
Ukulele Music (an oxymoron) (20)
Ukulele (8)
Welcome UKELADY to Mudcat! (16)
Help: double bass ukulele (4)


ukelady 13 Apr 01 - 12:09 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 04 Jul 03 - 06:32 AM
GUEST,Kicky C 04 Jul 03 - 09:17 AM
GUEST 04 Jul 03 - 09:27 AM
Frankham 04 Jul 03 - 09:51 AM
Dave Swan 04 Jul 03 - 01:09 PM
GUEST,Q 04 Jul 03 - 01:57 PM
8ch(pl) 04 Jul 03 - 05:43 PM
Cap't Bob 04 Jul 03 - 07:19 PM
GutBucketeer 04 Jul 03 - 11:52 PM
DonMeixner 05 Jul 03 - 12:02 AM
GutBucketeer 05 Jul 03 - 12:18 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 05 Jul 03 - 06:55 AM
Fred Miller 05 Jul 03 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Q 05 Jul 03 - 03:41 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 06 Jul 03 - 07:36 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: ukelady
Date: 13 Apr 01 - 12:09 PM

Here's a brief history of the ukeulele and the origin of the name, copied from the Ukulele Diner website.

You see, after the gringos crushed the Hawaiian royalty and installed a fruit and sugar-extracting territorial government, immigrant workers arrived from Portugal, with their small, 4-string "braghina" guitars on their collective knee. Tuned somewhat differently from their more robust flamenco cousins, these smallish axes not only fit comfortably within a seaman's gig bag, but also provided a far from pompous sound. Elegant, and yet consumer-friendly, these guitars were one of the very few things the Eurotrash brought that - in the light of the fierce tropical sun of truth - seemed worthy of respect. Soon local and Portuguese craftsmen (such as the famous Nunes clan) were stamping out smaller versions, made of not-at-that-time-endangered tropical hardwoods. And, as you've probably guessed, the "braghina" evolved into the somewhat-more-compact "ukulele."

Since you're a smartypants, you know that "ukulele" does not mean "portuguese guitar," nor anything remotely similar. In fact, as you know from your doctoral dissertation, it means, "jumping flea." And there's an armload of apocrypha explaining how this patently preposterous name was adopted. The most common explanation is that a group of Hawaiians watched as Portuguese sailors played their braguinas, and described their finger movements as similar to "jumping fleas," (or, alternately, that they looked like they were scratching jumping fleas.)

Another version - according to famed guitar, banjo and uke collector, Akira Tsumura - holds that regular "army joe" Edward Purvis played his uke for King Kalakaua. People who saw Purvis play "transfered his nickname, which was 'ukulele,' to the small instrument he played."

Either way, the Hawaiians saw a good thing, and quickly assimilated the uke into their indigenous culture. The Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915 featured Hawaiian music and hula dancing, and introduced the uke to the mainlanders. According to Pamela, of the raging West Coast uke monster band "Pineapple Princess," the uke was patented in the US in 1917, and, thereafter, we entered into "the ukulele Golden Age" of the early 1920's. Overnight, the uke was not only a mandatory accessory to the college career, but also a staple of vaudeville. Unfortunately, for most of the US, the uke was a fashion statement. So, while serious musicians such as Roy Smeck pushed the uke to its frontiers, and manufacturers experimented with hybrids (such as the banjolele and uk-e-lin) , the great masses forgot the instrument. Like most fads - such as oh, say, free speech - interest in the uke quickly declined.

For reasons as yet unexplained by historians, the US government recognized the decline in ukulele sales. Waiting until the best opportunity, Congress took it upon itself to declare war on Japan in 1942, to bring US servicemen into greater contact with this tremendously important cultural bulwark. Simultaneously, tone-deaf radio personality and domestic-violence connoiseur Arthur Godfrey brought the uke back with him from a mayhem-filled vacation to the territorial "protectorate" with his long-suffering spouse. Thereafter, the uke experienced its second flowering on the continental US vine, and, with the help of Elvis Presley (in BLUE HAWAII) and Ohta San, the ukulele became what it is today. Whatever that is.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 04 Jul 03 - 06:32 AM

refresh.
My elementary school has recently been given 24 ukuleles by a benefactor whose goal is to see one million new ukulele players within the next few years! My only association with the uke is Tiny Tim and some vestigial scorn whose source I'm not sure of.
But I went to a few uke workshops at Old Songs, and guess what- I like this little instrument! Now I need to get a decent one for myself. Any suggestions? Is it true that there's a concert-size that's tuned to the standard, smaller, soprano uke?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: GUEST,Kicky C
Date: 04 Jul 03 - 09:17 AM

The makers of Martin guitar make a really nice uke, but there are others also I am sure. I have a couple of friends who have baritone ukeleles whose strings are tuned like four strings of a guitar. They sound very nice.

KickyC


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jul 03 - 09:27 AM

I have a baritone and it's the high 4 strings of the guitar (dgbe) - without the lowest string being an octave higher although I'm sure that would be an alternative


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: Frankham
Date: 04 Jul 03 - 09:51 AM

I wonder about the Portugese "Cavaquinho". If it is like the
"braghina?" The references to "Eurotrash" seem unduly vitriolic and make me question the veracity of some of the information presented.
I always trust a more objective approach to a subject.

I've always admired Cliff Edwards (Ukelele Ike). Never thought Godfrey was tone deaf. If he's tone deaf than the author ought to be fair and lump Presley into his dubious classification.

The Uke is a pretty instrument and a wonderful accompaniment for singing. It's not an angry instrument.

Frank Hamilton


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: Dave Swan
Date: 04 Jul 03 - 01:09 PM

Animaterra,

There is a concert sized uke which is usually tuned GCEA (my dog has fleas)just like a soprano. It's a bit bigger and many folks prefer the additional real estate. I'd avoid the Martin SO currently in production, but that's my taste. You can, of course spend the moon on a uke, but there are several reasonably priced models to be had. The one I pick up most often is a little cedar sweetie, a concert model made by 3rd Wave, a sister company of Triplett Harps. The Fluke uke is a quite reasonable alternative, and a good player. A good place to start.

You can find lots of advice, some ukes for sale, good links, and some music at Flea Market Music.

PM me if you like, I could talk about ukes all day.

Best,

Dave


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 04 Jul 03 - 01:57 PM

Troy Fernandez, 'ukulele and vocals with the "Ka'au Crater Boys," is a master on the instrument, producing an unbelievable range of sound from the little instrument. Tapes and cds are available from Hawai'ian music stores. Well worth listening to.

The 'ukulele came to Honolulu in 1879, when Joao Gomez da along with 350 compatriots on the Ravenscrag, brought his braguinho (Portuguese name for the instrument). Most of the early immigrants (who numbered some 15000) came from Madeira. One, Joao Fernandez, played for King Kalakaua, who managed a glee club and composed a number of songs among his other activities. Lili'uokalani, later Queen and composer of many tunes including Aloha Oe, became a fan.
It wasn't long before Hawai'ians were making their own, and fine 'ukuleles made from koa and other woods are still being produced, including the famous Kamakas.

Much information on makers and activities at: ukulele


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: 8ch(pl)
Date: 04 Jul 03 - 05:43 PM

Samick has started making stringed instruments in Indonesia and the new Gregg Bennett line includes guitar, mandolin and ukelele. My friend has one in his music store in Nova Scotia for $125 Canadian. It is a well appointed, solid instrument, well worth the price.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 04 Jul 03 - 07:19 PM

I've been playing the uke for many, many years. Got my first one in around l947 and have been enjoying ukulele playing every since. Presently there are seven uke's around the house. They are a very versatile instrument that can be used to play many styles of music. Recently I tried frailing, and 3 finger style blue grass picking (picking styles used on the 5 string banjo).   Frailing worked especially well on the uke.
        Last year I built three uke's in my shop. First attempt wasn't great but by the time I got to the third uke (one I built for my grandson) I produced one with a really great sound. Plan on building a few more next winter. Plans for a Martin uke are available from Elderly's plan department.   
        The concert size has a more mellow tone that I like for a typical Hawaiian sound. For ragtime era music I like the sound of the standard uke best.

Cap't Bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 04 Jul 03 - 11:52 PM

Animattera:

Wow! It sounds like you will have a great time next year with a Uke Orchestra!

There is a teacher in Indinapolis Indianna who has been leading a elementary school Uke group for about three years. The Uke Strummers have a CD and a song book and a website. Go here for more information:

http://www.keystrummers.org/

I'm sure if you contacted him he would be glad to give you some pointers on how to start one up in your school.

There are at least 2 websites that provide online instruction on how to teach ukulele to kids, but I have them bookmarked at work, not here at home. I'll post them when I find them.

Good Luck!
JAB


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: DonMeixner
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 12:02 AM

Has anyone considered a Tiple?

Don


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: GutBucketeer
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 12:18 AM

Here is one of the sites: U for Ukulele A classroom method for young children.


http://ssdsbstaff.ednet.ns.ca/wdobson/

JAB


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 06:55 AM

Wow! Thanks for all the info and links!
I tried a few concert Samicks - the only ukes at the local music store- the other day. There was a lovely one with a spruce top that I'm attracted to. I'd consider a Fluke but there doesn't seem to be one here in so-western NH for me to try, and I'd hate to order one and not like it as much as the Samick. Guess it's time for a Uke Quest!
I'll check out the links. Thanks again!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: Fred Miller
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 10:21 AM

Fun links! Indianapolis seems to be a good town to be a kid in--their childrens museum is an all-day blast, and now there's this ukulele group. Nice repertoire of tunes they have.

   I do some frailing on the ukulele too, Cap't Bob, and have made a little effort to adapt some unexpected things to it. I've set it aside for awhile and get the urge now to pick it up again. Thanks y'all.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 05 Jul 03 - 03:41 PM

'Ukulele? Go for the best. Standard, concert and tenor size Kamakas at: Kamaka ukulele
OK, so the price is in the Aston Martin range.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Help: A Brief History of the Ukulele
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 06 Jul 03 - 07:36 AM

I emailed the folks in Indianapolis and got a great reply from Geoff Davis, one of the teachers.
Meanwhile, I'm going on a field trip later this week to The Vintage Fret Shop in Ashland, NH to check out a wide variety of goodies!
I'm loving the input- keep it coming!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 25 February 4:34 AM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.