Archive for February, 2010

A Quick Ukulele History

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

The instant the Ravenscrag showed up within Honolulu around the mid-day of August 23, 1879, ıt had been transporting 419 Portuguese immigrants coming from the isle of Madeira to work within the sugar cane fields. It absolutely was a tough as well as difficult voyage of around 4 months plus some 15,000 miles. For the gathering on their arrival, Joao Fernandes borrowed his friend’s braguinha, leaped over the vessel, and then began performing folk tunes through his native land within the wharf. The Hawaiians, who got down from the boat dock, ended up extremely amazed on the speed of this musicians’ fingers as they definitely danced throughout the fingerboard and so they named the instrument “ukulele”, which in turn means into English as “jumping flea”. That was the impression created by simply those flying fingertips.

At least that is among the testimonies concerning the beginning of the term “ukulele”. Common to a lot of of Hawaiian history, there are numerous records of how a ukulele acquired its title. Queen Lili’uokalani believed it originated in the particular Hawaiian terms for “the gift that came here”, or “uku” (gift or perhaps reward) as well as “lele” (to come). One more legend claims the instrument appeared to be initially referred to as “ukeke lele” or “dancing ukeke” (ukeke being the Hawaiian’s three stringed musical bow). The title, increasingly being mispronounced through the years, grew to become “ukulele”. An additional theory develops from a tale regarding Edward Purvis, an English army officer and also the Assistant Chamberlain to the court of King David Kalakaua, who seem to be really skilled at performing the braguinha. Considering that he was small as well as sprightly, the fairly huge Hawaiians nicknamed him “ukulele”, the entire “jumping flea” idea all over again. Nevertheless, other variation in the foundation of the term “ukulele” is related to Gabriel Davian plus Judge W. L. Wilcox, a member of a well-known island family. Based on the account, both gentlemen have been attending a housewarming celebration at the Wilcox residence in Kahili, where Davian was actively playing a ‘ukulele he had created himself. When one of many visitors questioned exactly what it was termed, Davion amusingly replied that, judging from the method a person “scratched at it,” it was a “jumping flea”. Wilcox, who seem to be proficient in Hawaiian, was requested by the Hawaiian translation and is likely to have responded, “‘Ukulele!”.

Through the years, the “jumping flea” legend, the one where Joao Fernandes’ fingertips were leaping like fleas over the fingerboard, has grown into the foremost recognized, most likely since that is actually the greatest history as well as Hawaiians simply appreciate an awesome tale.

The Different Ukulele Sizes

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

A lot of people believe that the size of the ukulele greatly affects a musician’s role in playing the instrument. They think that various ukulele sizes need various approaches and stances as well. However, this is not true except for the baritone which happens to be tuned in a different way. To further understand this, here are the four main classifications of ukuleles according to their size: Soprano/Standard, Concert, Tenor as well as the Baritone.

Soprano or Standard size is perhaps the most popular as well as generally used among the different sizes of ukulele. This size comes exceptionally light, and extremely portable. It usually has a scale length of 13 to 14 inches, with frets of 12 to 14, usually tuned at GCEA and is about 21 inches long from head to toe. It is sometimes has the cheapest prices yet best size for “plinky” re – entrant sound. It also is the smallest among the sizes which produces the tinniest sound related to ukuleles. Disadvantages of such size are the challenge it gives to those sized fingers for such small frets plus if equipped with friction pegs, tuning problems can probably occur.

Concert sizes ukuleles are much larger than the standard or soprano sized ukuleles. They have a scale length of 15 to 16 inches, usually tuned at GCEA, with frets of 14 to 17, and are about 23 inches long from head to toe. It is ideal for backyard jams as well as small gig since the sound produce is slightly fuller and perhaps louder than the soprano. Disadvantage of such size is tuning problems might occur when equipped with friction pegs.

Tenor sized ukuleles are somehow larger than the concert sized ukuleles. It is a popular choice for most of the performing soloists because its produces a greater volume as well as tone compared to the smaller ukulele sizes. It has a scale length of 17 to 18 inches, usually tuned at GCEA, with frets of 17 to 19, and is about 26 inches long from head to toe. Because it has frets more than 15, it makes instrument producers include cutaway designs for musicians to reach higher frets easier. Disadvantage of such size is low quality tuners might be hard to turn because of the increase in string tension.

Baritone sized ukuleles are the largest among the 4 ukulele sizes which happens to produce a much deeper sound than the others. This size entails more knowledge for the musician and a quick transposing to figure out the chords. This size is similar to the size of a guitar however misses the two top strings. It has a scale length of 19 to 20 inches, usually tuned at DGBE or sometimes, GCEA, with frets from 19 to 21, and about 30 inches in length from head to toe. A lot of jazz players prefer to use baritone sized ukuleles because of the big frets. Disadvantage for such size is that ukulele players need to re learn the chords as well note names on how to play the ukulele in a different tuning.

The Five Most Popular Ukulele Players

Friday, February 19th, 2010

The Ukulele is usually related to the wonderful country of Hawaii because it is usually accustomed to play that kind of songs. A ukulele appears like a small guitar and even comes in a variety of designs. Even though the sound resembles that of Hawaiian tunes, it is presumed that the ukulele dates back more than 100 years plus has origins in Portugal. It was initially exposed to the United States in 1915. Renowned ukulele players started utilizing this instrument to perform early kinds of folk music. Here are the five most popular ukulele players.

The legendary George Harrison, a member of the famous the Beatles band loved to play the ukulele. He was one of the most influential as well as the most admired musicians of the twentieth century. His last album, created before his untimely death on November 2001, featured him playing with a Banjo ukulele. A lot of Uke fans all over the world mourned when he died for he was a great champion for such instrument.

George Formby, Jr., OBE, a singer as well as a famous comedian is popular for playing with a banjolele, a banjo-like instrument, plus performing an assortment of light, comical songs. He was the son of a famous musician as well and took over the act of his father who died in 1925. All throughout his act, he included the ukulele and became one of the successful musicians in the United Kingdom in World War II. He was honored with OBE in 1946, and continually played with the ukulele until he died in the year 1961.

Cliff Edwards famously know as “Ukulele Ike” is a famous singer and musician who was very popular in the year 1920’s to 1930’s. He was best known for his jazzy renditions of pop standards as well as novelty tunes. He was primarily responsible for the fame of the ukuleles in 1920s who favored playing with the American Martin Ukulele. He first loved to play with soprano sized ukuleles, and in the later years played with large tenor ukuleles. His last album entitled “Ukulele Ike” was released before his death in the year 1971.

Tessie O’Shea is another famous ukulele player with an enthusiastic personality who always favored to play the ukulele-banjo. She was born in England yet migrated to the United States wherein she performed in a lot of films as well as stage plays. She was one of the several popular female ukulele players and was known for playing the ukulele-banjo with power, confidence and entertainment.

Jake Shimabukuro is a young ukulele musician coming from Honolulu, Hawaii. He is famous for his combination of the elements of jazz, rock, Hawaiian, and pop music.  He is popularly called as “Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele”. Among his famous albums were Sunday Morning, Walking Down Rainhill, Crosscurrent, and Dragon (released October 2005). He also has an instructional DVD entitled “Play Ukulele Loud”.