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Are ukuleles a real instrument?

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GUEST,Lavengro 05 Apr 13 - 02:53 PM
PHJim 05 Apr 13 - 08:52 PM
wysiwyg 12 Aug 14 - 10:10 PM
GUEST 12 Aug 14 - 10:58 PM
Don Firth 13 Aug 14 - 12:10 AM
wysiwyg 13 Aug 14 - 03:53 PM
Don Firth 13 Aug 14 - 10:31 PM
GUEST,# 14 Aug 14 - 01:39 AM
Backwoodsman 14 Aug 14 - 01:48 AM
Don Firth 14 Aug 14 - 02:08 AM
Don Firth 14 Aug 14 - 02:29 AM
GUEST,Desi C 14 Aug 14 - 05:21 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 Aug 14 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,gillymor 14 Aug 14 - 07:50 AM
GUEST,leeneia 14 Aug 14 - 09:55 AM
GUEST,Rahere 15 Aug 14 - 04:20 AM
GUEST,Desi C 15 Aug 14 - 01:34 PM
Don Firth 15 Aug 14 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,Rahere 15 Aug 14 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,gillymor 15 Aug 14 - 02:37 PM
Bill D 15 Aug 14 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,Stim 15 Aug 14 - 10:53 PM
GUEST 16 Aug 14 - 01:44 AM
GUEST 16 Aug 14 - 01:55 AM
PHJim 16 Aug 14 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,Stim 16 Aug 14 - 04:05 PM
PHJim 16 Aug 14 - 05:09 PM
PHJim 17 Aug 14 - 11:20 AM
Artful Codger 17 Aug 14 - 10:04 PM
PHJim 18 Aug 14 - 12:03 AM
GUEST,Stim 18 Aug 14 - 01:54 AM
GUEST 18 Aug 14 - 04:19 AM
irishenglish 18 Aug 14 - 09:46 AM
Don Firth 18 Aug 14 - 04:23 PM
PHJim 18 Aug 14 - 05:19 PM
JennieG 18 Aug 14 - 06:13 PM
Don Firth 18 Aug 14 - 06:25 PM
GUEST 19 Aug 14 - 04:19 AM
Felipa 19 Aug 14 - 05:23 AM
GUEST,Stim 19 Aug 14 - 09:27 AM
GUEST 19 Aug 14 - 09:29 AM
GUEST 19 Aug 14 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,gillymor 19 Aug 14 - 10:55 AM
Don Firth 19 Aug 14 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Desi C 19 Aug 14 - 02:20 PM
GUEST 19 Aug 14 - 04:38 PM
Don Firth 19 Aug 14 - 06:42 PM
PHJim 19 Aug 14 - 07:11 PM
Don Firth 19 Aug 14 - 08:45 PM
GUEST 19 Aug 14 - 10:00 PM
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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Lavengro
Date: 05 Apr 13 - 02:53 PM

This is as real as it gets! Love these guys. A little drunk, and a little brilliant.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kBPHeJiMXo


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: PHJim
Date: 05 Apr 13 - 08:52 PM

Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer have done a great deal for the ukulele's resurgence.

Snowdrop on clawhammer uke   Dark Eyes Hot Club style uke


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Subject: Kala CE Ukulele
From: wysiwyg
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 10:10 PM

I'm with Uke and Julian's upthread remarks.

I saw a midsized uke pkayed at a song circle and its owner answered a lot of folks' questions while I drooled at the size and portability my dear tabletop autoharp cannot provide. I am very short and my arms are disproportionately very short. With an ample bazoom no way can I have fun with geetar and my fingertips have never been able to stand steel strings.... so today I fell for a nylon stringed, mahogany beauty: Kala CE Concert-Sized with pickup and onboard tuner. Thanks Hardi! No autoharp stand!!!

~S~



Kala KA-CE Concert Ukulele w/ Pickup


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Aug 14 - 10:58 PM

A curse on ukelele players! They are trying to take ove4 the world.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 12:10 AM

With the exception of the Spanish vihuela, which has a waisted body like a guitar, but otherwise was not much different from a six-course lute (tuning and technique of playing), the first instrument to bear the name "guitar" was the Renaissance guitar. Not much bigger that a baritone ukulele, it had four courses (double strings, except for the top string, which was single). The serious musicians of the day played the lute, any of a number of different viols, or the virginal, which was a precursor to the harpsichord, and they looked down on the Renaissance guitar as "an instrument for young ladies and servant girls to strum on."

Not unlike the way the ukulele is generally regarded today.

Back in the Fifties, at the University of Washington, while loafing in the student union building lounge between classes, I heard a young guy who said he was from Hawaii entertaining a small group of friends by playing a uke. He didn't strum, he played it "finger-style," like classic guitar, and he was getting some real music out of that little thing.

A real eye—or ear—opener!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 03:53 PM

The salesman who demo'd what I bought tossed off a little Stairway to Heaven when his fingers got bored noodling the girlygirl, prettypretty tones for me. It might have been my temporary deafness-- weeklong ear buggers.....

I'd asked him to crank the onboard vol and bass amp he'd plugged into, so I could HEAR.... and the sparkling clarity apparently sent him over the edge, if there is one, between folk and rock.

;-) What is folk music, again?

~S~


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 Aug 14 - 10:31 PM

...Uh....

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,#
Date: 14 Aug 14 - 01:39 AM

"Are ukelele's a real instrument"

Yes and noooo. It sounds fucking awful except to the poor of ear, but then it sounds terrible to the aforementioned.

I understand it's spelled ukulele, no offence meant.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 14 Aug 14 - 01:48 AM

Hula-hoops, deeley-boppers and cabbage-patch dolls spring to mind.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 Aug 14 - 02:08 AM

The Yamaha GL-1 guitalele that I mention in an above post sounds very much like a small Celtic lap-harp, if played with the fingers like a classic guitar, rather than strummed like a uke is usually played.

I posted some links to the Yamaha GL-1 guitalele being played on YouTube. You can hear it for yourself.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 Aug 14 - 02:29 AM

Sometimes a "musical instrument" designed for non-musicians and for idiots falls into the hands of someone who IS a musician and is a bit inventive as far as playing technique is concerned.

What could be simpler than an autoharp? Press a button for the chord you want and strum the strings.

Then along comes the Stoneman family or the Carters and it becomes a virtuoso instrument.

The music one can get out of ANY instrument depends on the musician.

I once knew a guy who turned a bunch of kitchen-ware (pots, pans, colanders, and such) and a couple of lengths of PCV pipe--into a small orchestra. Or take a good look at the odds and ends that make up a jug band (jugs, washtub bass, washboard....).

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 14 Aug 14 - 05:21 AM

Yes definitely a 'real' instrument. One that snobbish musicians look down on but maybe that's even more reason to get one ;)


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 Aug 14 - 07:13 AM

Ukuleles must be real instruments because you have to 'tune' them - a deeply mysterious process which completely baffles me - I haven't got the faintest I idea of even how to start 'tuning' something. Then you have to play 'chords' on them - another deeply mysterious area which I know absolutely nothing about - when people start going on about 'CBG' or something, I haven't got the faintest clue what they're talking about.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,gillymor
Date: 14 Aug 14 - 07:50 AM

Ton Van Bergeyk would probably call it a real instrument.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 14 Aug 14 - 09:55 AM

Thanks for the link, gillymor. That's impressive playing.

If you've been on the Mudcat a while, you know that certain instruments elicit snotty remarks: banjo, spoons, ukulele, bodhran come to mind.

So what's wrong with these instruments? Two things: they were originally the instruments of poor people, and often the poor people were non-white. That's all there is to it. Meanwhile, it's possible to make really awful sounds on a violin, harp or flute, but those instruments are not ridiculed because they represent $$$.

I agree with Don. The value of an instrument depends on the skill of the musician.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 15 Aug 14 - 04:20 AM

You should go further, leeneia: it's a worked example that a good musician can probably get something out of a rubber band stretched across a tea-tray, and that ukes as they stand have a technical problem, deficient tone because they're not designed for tight stringing. On occasion he got something halfway approaching a decent tone from it, but he could not mask the tendency to buzz - if that's the name for something so slack - and sound like a bee in porridge.
The thread suggested earlier that they have things in common with the baroque guitar. Only size: the guitar has bracing to take better strings and that gives tone.
You might argue that it's what it is: I'd argue that if so, then it should be left where it is and not find its way into performance. Fun, perhaps, but nothing more.
The same might be said of many early instruments, but as we now know how to do it, there's really no excuse not to. And now, permit me to get back to my bowed psaltery...


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 15 Aug 14 - 01:34 PM

The kind of people who decry Uke's Banjo's etc in Folk clubs are usually the same type wo spend 5-10 minutes tuning up between every song, playing way over long boring songs on their oh so expensive branded guitars (they always mention the make) and generally bore the audience to death. So play your Uke with pride


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 15 Aug 14 - 02:01 PM

Compare the tone of the Renaissance guitar CLICKY #1 and the tone of the Yamaha guitalele CLICK #2.

They sound pretty similar to me.

Remember that Renaissance guitars, lutes, vihuelas, and such—and the classical guitar, up until sometime in the mid-Twentieth Century were strung with gut. Sheep gut. Byproduct of the slaughter house. Nylon strings came in right after World War II (ref: article in a copy of The Guitar Review, a magazine published by the New York Classic Guitar Society back in the 1960s).

The Renaissance guitar was pretty much the ukulele of its day, and regarded as such—except by a few composers who wrote some pretty nice stuff for it. And they got flak from other composers and musicians for "wasting their time and talent on such a worthless instrument."

Like I said above, the music comes from the musician, and a good musician can get music out of some of the darnedest things. PCV pipe!?? I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't heard it!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 15 Aug 14 - 02:07 PM

Aw, I never criticised banjos. Nor do I play a geetah. And I'm still trying to think of a suitable use for a uke. Got it. Britain's Got Talent.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,gillymor
Date: 15 Aug 14 - 02:37 PM

Doc Watson's first instrument was a strand of bailing wire stretched between a fence and it's post. It probably didn't sound too bad in his hands.
Here's more Ton doing Singing the Blues, the old standard that Bix made famous. He seems to represent the whole band with his little uke.

Click here


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Aug 14 - 07:41 PM

I can't believe this thread has been revived without anyone mentioning Jake Shimabukuro (take a couple hours and follow what he does... there was even a full hour program on him and how uses the instrument to teach & reach young people.)

   Not many people don't take it that far, but there's no doubt the instrument is as real as they come.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 15 Aug 14 - 10:53 PM

You are incredibly wrong about the uke's ability to produce tone, Rahere. It is a bright, crisp, and loud instrument.

Given that, a lot of people don't have their instruments tuned properly, which can be nearly fatal, given the instrument's register. And a lot of people try to play the uke like a little guitar, which isn't, while others try to play it like a little banjo, which it also isn't.

Some people claim that the name "ukulele" means something like "jumping flea", which I can neither affirm nor deny, however, it should pretty much sound like that. (or you could say popcorn which I prefer to fleas)

The key to playing the uke is learning to make it speak properly (same as with all instruments) and the fundamental is a simple down stroke with the index finger(called a one-stroke roll). A lot of people don't get it right unless someone shows them how, and most of those people don't know they don't get it right.

After that, people get tripped up by fretting. The ukulele is essentially a rhythm instrument, and you need to work out a fret and release movement that plays off the finger role. The old Hawaiian music was all drums, and the jumping fleas are playing drum rhythms.

The thing is, until you've got the instrument in tune, and you've got the downstroke and the fretting together, you won't get the full effect of the instrument.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Aug 14 - 01:44 AM

Every uke player I know seems to hsve a little electronic tuner on headstock and tune to 440hz so I would not hqv2 though tuning was a problem.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Aug 14 - 01:55 AM

Ok for playing Georges Formby songs, not much else!


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: PHJim
Date: 16 Aug 14 - 01:30 PM

unnamed GUEST who posted at 01:55 AM on Aug 16, 2014: You obviously have not listened to much ukulele music; nor have you bothered to read the posts that came before yours. Have you ever listened to Gerald Ross, Stu Fuchs, Marcy Marxer, Cathy Fink, Abe Lagrimas Jr., James Hill, Jim Gritt, Az Samad, Sarah Maisel, Jake Shimabukuru, Glen Rose, Manitoba Hal, Ben Harper, Daddy Stovepipe or Del Ray? If not, go look 'em up on Youtube and see if you still think the only thing a uke is good for is playing old George Formby songs. Ukes are great for old George Formby songs, but that's sure not all they're good for.

My apologies to any of the artists whose name I mis-spelled or any of those great ukulele players whose names I forgot. I'm sure there are many super players I've never heard of as well.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 16 Aug 14 - 04:05 PM

You left out Cliff Edwards and Lyle Ritz, PHJim.

And, not to put too fine a point on it, but, though George Formby did play the ukulele, mostly, he played a Ludwig Banjolele, which doesn't even really look like a uke.George Formby's Ludwig Banjo Uke

At the bottom of the page is a picture of another very famous George, holding Formby's instrument. Not surprisingly, most of his music sounds pretty good when played on the uke, too.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: PHJim
Date: 16 Aug 14 - 05:09 PM

Ah yes, Ukulele Ike.
George Harrison did own one of the Formby banjoleles, but when the Formby family offered to buy it from him he gave it back to the family.

Here's George playing Ain't She Sweet with two other guys.
Ain't She Sweet


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: PHJim
Date: 17 Aug 14 - 11:20 AM

From: GUEST
Date: 16 Aug 14 - 01:55 AM

"Ok for playing Georges Formby songs, not much else!"

Jake's take on Over The Rainbow


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 17 Aug 14 - 10:04 PM

The Hawaiian 'ukulele was adapted from the Portuguese cavaquinho and rajão, often played together, with the cavaquinho playing melody rather than being strummed. Although we mostly hear the 'ukulele being strummed rather than fingerpicked (following it's primary use in accompanying 20's/30's songs), it has always been used as a melody instrument as well, and the reentrant tuning lends itself to more bell-like playing (one note sustained into the next, where even legato would cut it off).

What gives 'ukulele a bad rep is the fact that it's accessible to and popular with people just beginning to learn an instrument or with not much dedication. Unlike the guitar, you only have to worry about four strings, and although some chord shapes require a barre (or are easiest to play that way), most don't: you've got a finger for each string. Sadly, although playing up the neck is much easier than on guitar (unless on guitar you take the uke approach of only playing the top four strings), most players are content with their limited stable of first position chords, with which they can accompany any song--at least to their liking--and that's all they really wanted to do in the first place.

The other thing that gives 'ukulele a bad rep is that, although good ukes are way cheaper than good guitars, mandolins, banjos and the like, most folks start (and stick) with the under-$100 cheapies, which have unimpressive or even annoying tone--better fit for painting and hanging on the wall. This is false economy, since they easily spend more for the basic accessories than they did for the instrument itself. For about $200 you can get an all-solid wood uke, nice-sounding with spot-on intonation; for $250-400, you can get a sweet-sounding instrument with finer, more exotic-looking tonewood that may satisfy you for the rest of your life. (But few people are satisfied with just one uke, and why should you be?) From there on, the main cost is the labor for hand-building a more finely resonant instrument and the cachet/unique tone/bling of true koa or other select tonewood; the bang-for-the-bucks ratio declines sharply. In contrast, $300 is hardly enough to buy an entry-level banjo worth serious consideration. Can you honestly tell me you'd rather hear a tinny, stray-toned banjo than a melodious uke?


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: PHJim
Date: 18 Aug 14 - 12:03 AM

Good points Artful,
    The cheap, painted ukuleles that many folks start their ukulele playing on are not really instruments. Of course this is true of guitars, banjos and mandolins as well. I have tried these entry level (a poor term) instruments and anyone would have trouble getting a decent sound out of them. A poor quality instrument will discourage any beginning player and should be avoided.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 18 Aug 14 - 01:54 AM

I have to disagree with Artful Codger. The under $100 ukes can be suprisingly good. I have a Kala Soprano that I am very fond of- it plays well all the way up the neck, and has quite a good fretboard, and a pleasing sound. Not quite as good as an old solid mahagonny Martin, but neither are those $200-300 instruments. I have heard good reports on the Lanikai beginners models as well.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Aug 14 - 04:19 AM

In some respects it comes back to the original objections to the guitar in the 1880s, as typified by WS Gilbert's opening shots in Trial By Jury, when he used it as a symbol for an effete intellectual. Tink-a-tonk was the words he used. He's pointing at would-bes rather than can-dos, and the question really comes back to whether it has a place outside of the self-referential in our music.
None of the players quoted as references have taken it anywhere with other instruments, because it has annoying features: Ross, for example, destroys Take The A-Train by insisting on the flabby downstroke strum in the middle of each bar as a form of percussion when he'd have done better playing a la table. I stopped wasting time on the list PHJim gave me 16 Aug 14 - 01:30 PM after a bit, as it was just too dispiriting: no, I don't think it has a place in anything other than it's original Hawaiian context, I see what the afficionadoes see in it, but it's a severe case of self-referential, indeed self-justificatory, monomania. Sure, the best players can get something out of it, but it's never going to be the kind of heart-breaking wail of the clarinet at the start of Rhapsody in Blue, or the throb of tympani, or Hendrix in full-flow, it goes about 30% towards a Hawaiian guitar, so I suspect it's had its day and been found wanting - worse, it's clearly not got the scope to go anywhere. Why not play the charango, a similar instrument which does far more? But no, you'll stick with it and the more chi to your karma. Me, I use a brick wall.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: irishenglish
Date: 18 Aug 14 - 09:46 AM

Check out Taimane Gardner on Youtube and ask that question again!


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Aug 14 - 04:23 PM

I have heard people get some pretty good music out of the little "standard" ukulele, but I can't say I could work up a great deal of enthusiasm for it. But the "Guitalele," the size of a tenor uke and with six strings (tuned like a guitar with a capo on the fifth fret), is capable of some pretty interesting stuff.

Actually, it could be considered a one-quarter-size guitar.

Links to YouTube in my post above.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: PHJim
Date: 18 Aug 14 - 05:19 PM

Of course there are gonna be people who don't like the sound of the ukulele and will never appreciate it, no matter how well it is played, just as there are those with no use for the banjo, bagpipes, accordion... and I guess it all comes down to personal preference. While I once thought they were toys, I now kinda like them.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: JennieG
Date: 18 Aug 14 - 06:13 PM

They are as real as you wish to make them.

Our uke group has people who will never be of the standard of some of the 'masters', but they are having a great time just the same. Some have never held an instrument in their lives before joining, couldn't read music - still can't - but they have a lot of fun. We recently played a couple of songs at a concert and feedback was "you were all enjoying it so much"! Yes, we were! Isn't that what music is about?

I have two ukes, a $50 soprano which makes a surprisingly good sound, and a hand-made tenor which cost many noughts more than $50 and sounds much better too, made by one of Australia's best luthiers.

Perhaps it's time to put away the musical snobbery, and just enjoy the music.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Aug 14 - 06:25 PM

Amen, Jennie!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 04:19 AM

Don't think it is snobbery, it's certainly personal, but when the best even its defenders can come up with is that they kinda like them, then I think that's a mile away from "this instrument is so brilliant we've got to have one" and rest my case. I hear them and don't hear something I particularly like, because it doesn't express anything much, and that's not snobbery, it's my sense of what is music coming through.
Sure, if you're having fun with it and it leads you on to something more expressive, like that small guitar, then it's not a bad thing. I just don't think it's sufficiently good to want one around. There are many more instruments in our heritage far more deserving of the work, for one thing.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Felipa
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 05:23 AM

I'll find out at the City of Derry guitar festival, which this year includes a three-day long ukelele course for beginners
http://www.cityofderryguitarfestival.com/


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 09:27 AM

I am not sure why I need to defend an instrument I've spent the last thirty years playing to anyone, so I won't. GUEST may play the Charango to his/her hearts content, it is an interesting instrument, but I feel sorry for all those murdered armadillos.

It is worth pointing out that audiences both formal and informal have a fondness for the uke that doesn't extend to other instruments--walk into a room with a guitar and people regard you charily, a violin tends to put people off, and they pretty much ignore the others.

The uke makes people happy, no matter what you play on it, no matter how well or badly you play it. That's what makes it special.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 09:29 AM

Here is Gerald Ross's Take The A Train. Listen and tell me if this is ruined by a flabby downstroke.
A Train
You may want to forward past Gerald's description of his new ukulele.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 09:43 AM

Yes, that was the recording I was commenting on. You don't even seem to be able to see the strike, hit by the backs of his nails on a down stroke. It's like adding a burp in the middle of a song, just because it's always done that way. It's positively flatulent. OK, if you're playing Hawaiian music, it's normal, but Take The A Train isn't Hawaiian.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,gillymor
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 10:55 AM

Guest, if you're going to denigrate the uke you've got to come up with a better example than that. It was swinging, tasteful and the instrument had a marvelous tone. I dug that rhthymic chuck as well.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 12:47 PM

Yeah.... The downstroke with the fingernail on "Take the A-Train" is superfluous and sort of a ukulele cliché. Unnecessary and a bit distracting. Most of the really nice music--with the exception of genuine Hawaiian music--is minus the "ukulele clichés."

Dunno if that makes sense, but it does to me.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 02:20 PM

To PHJIM
Just because there are more expensive better made versions and more expensive, does not invalidate cheap guitarsm banjos, Ukes etc as instruments, that's just a snobbish ignorant point if view!


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 04:38 PM

That's rather my point, Don. It's not just a cliché, it went unnoticed by the Ukelele gang: it's not as if the instrument has to be played like that (thinking here of the passing note in GHB which is related to gracing in other instruments), it's just a habit needed to make the instrument the instrument. Trouble is, the instrument's the medium, the music should rule, and it didn't. Now, that might be acceptable in an instrument which adds something enormous to the tune, but to be frank, I think I'd rather have heard it played on a barrel-organ.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 06:42 PM

Well, my point, Guest, is that the deficiencies are not in the instrument, simple though it may be, they are in the musician.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: PHJim
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 07:11 PM

DesiC, I have played some neat old instruments that are not expensive, but can make great music, but I have also had students come to take lessons on an instrument that would discourage anyone from playing. It's not the price of an instrument, but the quality and the set up, that makes it playable. I have tried playing brand new ukuleles that had such bad intonation that setting them up to be playable would cost as much as buying a good uke in the first place. I hate to see someone turned off playing because of a crummy instrument.
I have a few student grade guitars and banjos that I love and have even done some recording with an old budget Stella when there were Gibsons and Martins available to me. One of my favourite open back banjos cost me $10 (and another $100 or so to set it up).
It's not the price as much as the playability of an instrument that validates it as an instrument. I probably worded it as I did because quite often (certainly not always) the ones that are hard to play are also cheaper.


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 08:45 PM

When my girlfriend back in 1952 or so, who had just become interested in folk music, was given a fine old parlor guitar by her grandmother (1898 George Washburn "Ladies' Model")—the venerable lady hadn't played it in years—Claire was having so much fun with it that I got myself a guitar. Clueless! It was a "Regal," a real cheapie, $9.95! Fortunately the intonation was close enough that it could be tuned okay (I was lucky!), but it sounded like it was made from wood normally used for making apple crates—and probably was.

But I learned my first chords on that clunker, and was well on the way to developing a good repertoire of songs when I bought myself a Martin 00-18 about a year later. Since then, I've owned several guitars, and had a pretty decent career singing folk songs and ballads professionally. I also play some classical guitar, and currently own a Spanish-made guitar that I'm told is worth around $20,000 (I paid nowhere near that, but I got it in 1960 or so, and it's appreciated a lot since! Lucky again!).

But that $10 Regal got me started.

If an instrument is playable at all, you can at least get started on it.

A ukulele, particularly a baritone ukulele, is not much different from a Renaissance guitar, and although lutenists at the time looked down their noses at it, some damned fine music was written for it.

And in fact, it just occurred to me, that some of that same music could just as well be played on a ukulele.

Renaissance guitar. Whole batch of stuff on that page. (Sounds a lot like a ukulele to me!).

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Are ukuleles a real instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Aug 14 - 10:00 PM

Tho I find GUESTs attitude a little bit annoying, I nonetheless appreciate the attempt to actually discuss the musical aspects of a musical performance. That doesn't happen here very much, and it probably should.

That said, with some apologies to the performer, who probably expected a much warmer reaction to his effort, I'll weigh in.

I don't think the arrangement is very good at all. It's a patchwork of bits that don't flow together very well. It's not very coherent, and there are a lot of trite gimmicks tossed in, which actually distract you from the melody and the basic pulse of the song, rather than building on it and moving it forward.(and that repeated plucked rhythmic phrase grated on my nerves)

Little instrumental pieces like this should be a bit like a roller coaster ride-they draw you in, build up some momentum and climb slowly to the first peak and then give you a dramatic first slide, then get into the groove and move along for a bit with a series of ripples and smaller slides and a novel twist and turn here and there, keeping the the excitement up, but keeping things spread out
enough that you get the full effect of each event, then, when you're still in completely in the moment, they draw you up the last hill for the big final plunge, then you level off, and you're out.

Funnily enough, this is the second time a performance recently that a youtubed version of "Take the A Train" has come up for discussion. This link is to an OpEd piece in the Washington Post that is highly critical of a performance by Charles Mingus group, and features a solo
by Eric Dolphy.All that Jazz isn't all that great

Unlike the writer, I was blown away by the piece, but what do I know?
I'm just a ukulele player...


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