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Are ukuleles a real instrument?

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GUEST,Dazbo 01 Sep 05 - 11:16 AM
GUEST 01 Sep 05 - 11:17 AM
Splott Man 01 Sep 05 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,Russ 01 Sep 05 - 11:44 AM
Sttaw Legend 01 Sep 05 - 11:52 AM
Paul Burke 01 Sep 05 - 11:57 AM
Leadfingers 01 Sep 05 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,Dazbo 01 Sep 05 - 12:06 PM
GUEST,Lighter at work 01 Sep 05 - 12:12 PM
Le Scaramouche 01 Sep 05 - 01:18 PM
Cluin 01 Sep 05 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,Sooz 01 Sep 05 - 01:36 PM
Houston_Diamond 01 Sep 05 - 02:01 PM
Le Scaramouche 01 Sep 05 - 02:20 PM
Cluin 01 Sep 05 - 03:15 PM
Uke 01 Sep 05 - 05:58 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Sep 05 - 10:50 PM
Mark Cohen 02 Sep 05 - 12:40 AM
Gurney 02 Sep 05 - 01:11 AM
JennyO 02 Sep 05 - 01:29 AM
Bob Bolton 02 Sep 05 - 02:38 AM
Kaleea 02 Sep 05 - 02:42 AM
GUEST,Dazbo 02 Sep 05 - 04:43 AM
Geoff the Duck 02 Sep 05 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,Julian 02 Sep 05 - 06:28 AM
Terry Allan Hall 02 Sep 05 - 10:40 AM
M.Ted 02 Sep 05 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,DB 03 Sep 05 - 11:45 AM
Don Firth 03 Sep 05 - 02:11 PM
GUEST,Barrie Roberts 03 Sep 05 - 10:21 PM
Little Robyn 04 Sep 05 - 01:07 AM
GUEST,Barry Finn, keeping company at wife's office 04 Sep 05 - 05:05 PM
M.Ted 04 Sep 05 - 11:36 PM
Wilfried Schaum 05 Sep 05 - 02:54 AM
Peace 05 Sep 05 - 03:00 AM
GUEST,Dazbo 05 Sep 05 - 06:03 AM
GUEST,Fogie 05 Sep 05 - 10:34 AM
Wilfried Schaum 05 Sep 05 - 10:37 AM
harpmolly 05 Sep 05 - 11:19 PM
GUEST,Melissa 03 Jul 12 - 12:43 PM
Leadfingers 03 Jul 12 - 01:27 PM
Don Firth 03 Jul 12 - 02:29 PM
Ebbie 03 Jul 12 - 03:41 PM
Leadfingers 03 Jul 12 - 07:23 PM
PHJim 04 Apr 13 - 07:07 PM
Don Firth 04 Apr 13 - 08:13 PM
Mark Ross 04 Apr 13 - 08:37 PM
Johnny J 05 Apr 13 - 05:16 AM
Johnny J 05 Apr 13 - 05:18 AM
Stringsinger 05 Apr 13 - 11:22 AM
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Subject: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,Dazbo
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 11:16 AM

Well are they?

Do you play one?

What's it like?

Why is the top string (vertically speaking) tuned to a higher pitch than the two below it?

Should I get one?


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 11:17 AM

Where the £@#! did that apostrophe come from?


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Splott Man
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 11:27 AM

Yes

Yes

Fun

Don't know

Yes

Try www.ukuleleorchestra.com/ to see just how well they can be played

Have fun...

Splott Man


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 11:44 AM

What do you mean by instrument?
What do you mean by real?

If you plan to play it in solitude, no problem. Go for it.

If you plan to play with other musicians, there might be issues.
Then the important question is "What do THEY mean by real instrument?"


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Sttaw Legend
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 11:52 AM

Have a listen to this UKE
link in the first post and your questions will be answered


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Paul Burke
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 11:57 AM

Yes, my mate Steve Williams plays it brilliantly. Rock, though, so less likely to interest the denizens of this place.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 12:00 PM

Like so many instruments , the uke is very simple to play easy stuff on , but is capable of all sorts of GREAT music - I second the advice in Sttaw's post above - That is some FRIGHTENING uke playing !


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,Dazbo
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 12:06 PM

I can feel the urge returning!!

I almost bought one at Towersey festival this week end (they didn't have a tutor book :-( ).


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,Lighter at work
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 12:12 PM

They're Hawaiian adaptations of Portuguese-style guitars. So that alone makes them musical instruments. I saw some 18th century originals in a museum once.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 01:18 PM

Ukes can be so twee when played badly, but in the hands of someone who knows how they are marvellous.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Cluin
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 01:21 PM

The ukelele is poised for a comeback boom. Expect to see one in Clapton's hands at some major concert soon.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,Sooz
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 01:36 PM

Apparently George Harrison used to carry a few spare ukes in case any of his friends forgot theirs!


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Houston_Diamond
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 02:01 PM

As the GUEST said:-
RE: Are ukeleles a real instrument?

Anything can be an instrument if it makes a suitable sound i.e. one that is inkeeping with the melody or tune (even suitably shaped bones. lol).

But, metaphysically speaking is any instument "real" or does it mearly exist because the id depicts it's physical state?

I quite liked hearing George Formby's Uke playing.

As you may already have guessed I'm a bit strange and my advise should probably be ignored.

Daft as a T Chest Bass Houston.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 02:20 PM

Reminds me, in the Concert for George, several songs were done on uke. Really nice stuff.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Cluin
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 03:15 PM

Paul McCartney, for one. I think he did "Something" on uke.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Uke
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 05:58 PM

I felt I had to place at least one message on this thread, if only to say... viva la ukelele!

The uke is great for singsongs, not so loud as a guitar and more portable. It is also more forgiving of unskilled playing.

Ukulele playing has reached a high level of mastery in Pacific Island string-band music, which often have several ukes, keeping a high-pitched rhythmic pulse going. In the last few years a new style of uke has a started to appear in New Zealand, probably from the islands. It has a solid body and is strung like a mandolin. Sounds different and very nice.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Sep 05 - 10:50 PM

Listen to Eddie Kamae on "Granada" or "Aloha Oe" or "Tropical," etc. (cuts on "Heart of the 'Ukulele," re-released as a cd), available from mele.com. He taught many of the more recent players.
Heart


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 12:40 AM

But please, spell it right! Two U's, followed by two E's. Uku in Hawaiian means flea or other small insect (when I had my pediatric practice on the Big Island I treated lots of kids for ukus, a/k/a head lice), and lele means leaping or jumping. Hence, the name of the instrument means "jumping flea." There are two competing explanations for that: (1) it refers to the player's fingers, (2) it was the nickname of the diminutive British naval officer who played his small vihuela at the royal Hawaiian court and led to its popularity throughout the islands.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Gurney
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 01:11 AM

I'll second Uke at 5.58. There is a Polynesian guy at the local outdoor market who makes, plays, and sells them. Very impressive.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: JennyO
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 01:29 AM

the name of the instrument means "jumping flea."

Aha! Is that why people always sing My Dog Has Fleas when tuning them?


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Subject: RE: Are ukeleles a real instrument
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 02:38 AM

G'day Dazbo,

"Why is the top string (vertically speaking) tuned to a higher pitch than the two below it?"

That's a "re-entrant" tuning ... if you think of the standard "C" chord on a 'C'-tuned Ukulele (dGBe) the chord (due to the octave higher string) is sounded eGce ... so the 'e' at each end is the same note. This means that quick up-&-down strumming techniques sound more 'even' as they don't particularly run Up then Down ... only the middle notes show a different order.

This type of tuning is used on a lot of South American stringed instruments - for the same reason. The way we are accustomed to tune a 6-string guitar ... for our particular style of music does not create an absolute rule. Enjoy the Ukulele for what it is and what it does ... not what some preconception says it should do.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Kaleea
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 02:42 AM

are you real? well, are you? do you play any musical instrument? do you know what one is? did you know that there are four strings on a ukulele? did you know that if you count the strings under the top (vertically) string, there are three underneath (vertically) it? should any alleged personage who does not know the answer to these or any of the above questions be allowed by society to obtain or accost any musical instrument?


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,Dazbo
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 04:43 AM

Thanks Bob, that makes sense and shows how brain-washed you can get my western instruments and tunings.

Kaleea - if you took the time read my original post properly you would see that at no point did I suggest that the ukulele has only 3 strings. And I play the melodeon, which many people do not consider a musical instrument (with the emphasis on musical!)


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 05:57 AM

There is a lot of Uke information on the web. You can print off chord charts for diferent common tunings and arrangements for anything from George Formby to Jimi Hendrix.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,Julian
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 06:28 AM

I've always felt that when it comes to a music session in a pub or whereever, you are either in (with an instrument) or out (just a bystander who may listen to the music if they wish). I don't want to lug a big guitar around with me and have to find space for the case, so I've got myself a uke. I can sit in on a session if I want; I can be as quiet or as noisy as I feel fits; I don't take up too much space or get in other people's way; and if the other "musicians" don't like it, tough, 'cause they should be more accommodating and less elitist.

Did that end as a bit of a rant, sorry didn't mean to. But at the end of the day if you want to make music with other like minded people, I say, go for it.

Cheers

Julian


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Terry Allan Hall
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 10:40 AM

Love 'em....between my daughter and myself, we have a soprano, a tenor, a baritone, a (soprano) banjo-uke and a "taro-patch" (an 8-stringed tenor uke)....looking for a tiple, next (same tuning as a soprano, but 10 strings - double-triple-triple-double, with the triple courses, the middle string is tuned an octave lower.)


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Sep 05 - 12:57 PM

FYI, Kaleea, there are five strings on my uke--/and a word of Warning to Terry Allan Hall--with ten steel strings on that short little neck, there is a lot of tension on the Tiple's neck. The bridge and top tend to give out on them at some point--I've been there, I've seen it, and I'm lucky I lived to tell about it:-)


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,DB
Date: 03 Sep 05 - 11:45 AM

I was in my local bookshop, yesterday, and some youth shambled in, holding a very tiny guitar-shaped case, and asked if they had "any uke books". The lady behind the counter said that she didn't have any in stock but she could check on the computer and order one for him. He muttered something and shambled out again. This encounter then initiated a conversation, in the shop, in which I learned that ukeleles are back in fashion again - well I never!!!


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Sep 05 - 02:11 PM

Yeah, I can see why. They're small and easy to pack around, they're handy, they're easy to play simply, and they can also offer a challenge to someone who sees the serious music that is potentially in that little box if they can develop the skill to get at it.

I've been thinking about getting one. Keep it within arm's reach.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,Barrie Roberts
Date: 03 Sep 05 - 10:21 PM

Of course the ukulele's a real instrument! Our beloved Prime Minister plays it -- it must be!! More to the point, anyone who's heard George Formby Jnr in one of his astonishing breaks must know that it's real.
Steve Parkes and I once dreamed up the idea of creating an enormous orchestra of the 'little' instruments --- ukeleles, banjoleles, ukelele-banjos, mandolins, kazoos, mouth harps, thumb pianos etc --- and recording the '1812 Overture' with them. I think what ended the idea was a failure to decide whether to use pop-guns or cap pistols for the cannon in the finale. Still --- if anyone wants the idea, I'd love to hear the result!


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Little Robyn
Date: 04 Sep 05 - 01:07 AM

In answer to your question:
Why is the top string (vertically speaking) tuned to a higher pitch than the two below it?
One answer could be that if you tried to tune the first string an octave lower, you'd have to use a thicker string that would be too heavy for the little instrument.
I used to have a tenor uke 40 years ago, about the size of a children's guitar, and it was strung and tuned like the top 4 strings of a guitar - ie, the first string was a deeper one and it had a lovely sound. You could just use guitar chords but it was easier to play than a guitar. I wish I still had it but I think it was left at a school I was teaching at.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,Barry Finn, keeping company at wife's office
Date: 04 Sep 05 - 05:05 PM

I'm told by an old cape horner(George Herbet, known as the "Rigger from W. Geelong", RIP)that it's also an instrument well worth taking to sea for long voyages. He sang & played a uke (alto,?) & a concertina. He never mentioned having problems with the uke but the concertine he'd have to dry out when nearing the tropics. He started out in the Baltic trades around 1913/14 at the age of 12 or 13. So I don't know when he I don't know when he became a cape or when he strarted playing any instruments. He played pretty nice music on both.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Sep 05 - 11:36 PM

Your Rigger friend passed a major truth about the uke-is derived from a similar Portuguese instrument called the braguinha, a favored instrument of Portuguese mariners, who carried this instrument with them, versions of it are found where ever they went--


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 05 Sep 05 - 02:54 AM

The question should be: Are ukuleles real instruments? or is the ukulele a real instrument?

Physically:
1. You can see them, you can touch them, you can play them: They are real and not virtual.

Technically:
2. Instrument is a foreign word for tool. You can use it for batting back tomatoes, eggs, and foul vegetables - even cricket balls (but only once in most cases). And you can produce more or less harmonic sounds. Yes, as a tool it is also an instrument.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Peace
Date: 05 Sep 05 - 03:00 AM

I think this fellow would say yes to the thread title.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,Dazbo
Date: 05 Sep 05 - 06:03 AM

Right, that's it I'm off to get one!


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: GUEST,Fogie
Date: 05 Sep 05 - 10:34 AM

It's a well hidden fact that Corelli, Beethoven, Degas,and Picasso all used to play ukuleles and in fact they all gigged together in Prague but it was just before recording came about and NOTHING remains of their efforts.They used to strum till the landlord threw them out -then they would trash the beer-garden. They refused to let Freud join in because of his theory about negative compensatory psychology- he couldnt decide whether to play a micro-uke or a contrabass !I'm sure this is only the tip of the supressed history of this all-encompassing instrument, development of which led to the four string harp, the foot-organ, and Rolf Harris' electric therumin thing. I'm thinking of writing a thesis on it. Any contributions would be most welcome.


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Subject: RE: Are ukelele's a real instrument
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 05 Sep 05 - 10:37 AM

But P.D.Q. Bach NEVER played the uke, alas!


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: harpmolly
Date: 05 Sep 05 - 11:19 PM

Having heard my brother play some kickass riffs on the ukulele, I'd have to say yes.

Also, a few weeks ago I witnessed Eddie Vedder purchasing one. Which he said he was buying for Bruce Springsteen. I kid you not. Now that's something you only see once in a lifetime. *big grin*

Molly


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Melissa
Date: 03 Jul 12 - 12:43 PM

Ukuleles are definitely a 'real' instrument. I hate it when people say that they are just a toy...
I do play one, and have for five years.
I do not know why the uke is tuned so strangely, but it just makes it even cooler!
And last but not least, yes, you should get one. Ukuleles are the most amazing instruments I have come across so far, and the sound in so unique. I am from Hawaii, so ukuleles are part of our culture in a way.
-Melissa


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 03 Jul 12 - 01:27 PM

I have recently been reminded that I saw Jerry Jeff Walker (Of Mr Bojangles fame) on Beeb TV playing Bottle Neck blues on a Uke !!


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Jul 12 - 02:29 PM

On the question of the 4th string being tuned an octave higher than one would normally expect:

This is what is called "re-entrant tuning." Some Renaissance and Baroque guitars were tuned this way (the young lady playing the Baroque guitar is a Seattle girl, by the way).

The Renaissance guitar was the first instrument to be called a "guitar." Not a "kithara," "gittern," or other variation of the word. Both instruments are strung in what they called "courses." Doubled strings, like a 12-string guitar, but with the top string (i.e., the highest in pitch) was single, and called the "Chantarelle." The lower pairs of strings were sometimes tuned in unison, sometimes in octaves. And sometimes they were tuned an octave up, like the fourth string of a ukulele.

The Renaissance guitar has four courses and is tuned like the top four strings of a modern guitar (with the possible octave variations as mentioned), and the Baroque guitar has five courses, like the top five strings of a modern guitar (also with octave variations).

As I said, this is called "re-entrant tuning."

I'd love to get my sweaty little hands on a Baroque guitar, but a well-made replica is pretty pricey.

Whether a ukulele is a toy or a musical instrument depends on who happens to be playing it. It has the potential of being a serious musical instrument.

After all, a violin has only four strings.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Jul 12 - 03:41 PM

A friend of mine came back recently from a Hawaii vacation with an 'ookie'. He now has a second one and has fallen in love with them. He is a talented mandolin player but he now divides his time between them.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 03 Jul 12 - 07:23 PM

I know people who think a 'Penny Whistle' is not a 'Real' instrument -
Doesnt stop me playing a whistle in three or four keys , playing light classics and jazz as well as folk , and having fun jamming with other very good musicians . AND Confusing Vin Garbutt by playing Scot Joplin's 'The Entertainer' in C and F all the way through .


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: PHJim
Date: 04 Apr 13 - 07:07 PM

There is some good info, but also some misleading info in this thread. The most common tuning for soprano, concert and tenor ukes is gCEA. I like this re-entrant tuning for chording. Often players will employ a "low G" tuning which is GCEA, like the top four strings of a guitar, capoed at the fifth fret. If you play a lot of single string melody, this might be a good tuning for you.
Some folks like to tune their ukes, especially sopranos, a full step higher to aDF#B and some instruction books are written for this tuning.
An 1950s entertainer named Arthur Godfrey popularised the baritone ukulele, which is a larger uke, tuned like the top four strings of a guitar DGBE, sometimes called "Chicago tuning".

I notice that this thread was started 12 years ago, right near the beginning of the current Ukulele revival, so much of this information might be old hat to most Mudcatters.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Apr 13 - 08:13 PM

There's an instrument out there that bears a serious look. It's the size of a tenor ukulele, but it has six strings, like a guitar. It's tuned up a fourth from a guitar (like a guitar with a capo on the fifth fret), and it goes by the name of "guitalele" (preferred) or "guitarlele." It's sort of a hybrid.

As to whether one can play serious music on one, give these a listen:

Lute piece by John Dowland .

Lagrima, by Tarrega (I play this one on the classic guitar).

O'Carolan's Receipt. Sounds almost like a lap harp.

The Yamaha GL-1 guitalele is a very nice instrument, well made, and they sell for about $100.00. I have a friend who owns one and she gets a lot of music out of it. I would have one myself, except that my bratwurst-sized fingers find the fingerboard a bit cramped. My fault, not the instrument's. Nancy has no problem with hers.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 04 Apr 13 - 08:37 PM

" It's hard to tell when you see someone with a ukelele, whether they're really playing it, of just fooling around.' Will Rogers

I'll drink to that.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Johnny J
Date: 05 Apr 13 - 05:16 AM

Yes, it's a real instrument but there aren't many *real players*.

However, the instrument does have a lot of scope and possibilities and is much more challenging than it first appears if you want to get beyond the "three chord" tricks.

Even for accompaniment, some of the rhythms can be quite complicated... more so than I would normally do on guitar.... but, while occasionally effective, don't always suit the songs or tunes IMHO. That's a matter of taste though.

I've also been learning "melodies" and "tunes" (Call them the same thing if you wish but I would differentiate. If you are used to playing guitar, this isn't too difficult but if you are a fidler or mandolin player you have to take into account the interval differences. However, even then, you are half way there.

I DO find interpreting other musicians' arrangements a little more challenging at times especially when it comes to the use of tablature versus written music or a combination of both.
It is possible, as you will know, to play the same notes at various different positions on a guitar, ukelele, and even to a certain extent on fiddle although most trad tunes tend to be played in the first position.
So, how I would play a tune myself by ear or from the standard dots is not necessarily the same as the arranger has shown on the tablature. There are many possibilities and the high "G" string is often used to produce a "Campanale" effect. So, there's a lot of string crossing involved when it would often be easier or more natural just to remain on the "E" string but play the "G" on the third fret.

However, no doubt I'll get used to it if I want to become a "real" player.
:-)


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Johnny J
Date: 05 Apr 13 - 05:18 AM

Oops, please note I meant to say *campanella*. Too early in the morning!


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 05 Apr 13 - 11:22 AM

Here's one thing that ukes can do. They can play almost every chord that a guitarist uses.
They are capable of sophisticated harmonies. You can play jazz chords on them.

In the hands of a great artist, almost any instrument can be "real" and effective.

They are wonderful as voice accompaniment. They were very popular in the States in the Twenties because they could reproduce the popular music of the day as did the tenor banjo.
They were portable........and they sound great on the beach.


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