Ukulele The ukulele, pronounced oo-koo-lele is a fretted string instrument which is, in its construction, essentially a smaller, four-stringed version of the guitar. In the early 20th century, the instrument's name was often rendered as ukelele, a spelling still used in Great Britain. The Hawaiian spelling 'ukulele is very common.
Page comparing the four different sizes of ukulele
that are in common use today.
The ukulele (pronounced oo-koo-lele) comes in 4 sizes Soprano (sometimes called Standard), Concert, Tenor and Baritone. Tuned like the thin 4 strings of a standard guitar. The baritone Uke uses "G" Tuning (D G B E) just like the guitar. The Soprano, Concert and Tenor uses "C" Tuning G C E A and "D" tuning (A D F# B). The Tenor can also be tuned like the Baritone ukulele. These are the same intervals as the guitar's upper 4 strings, string 4 to 3 is a perfect fourth (P4) or 11th depending on whether using traditional high tuning or a more guitar like low tuning, string 3 to 2 is a major third (M3) and string 2 to 1 is a perfect fourth (P4).
A ukulele can be a mellow-mainland or bright-island sound.
In 1879, a Braguinha arrived in Hawaii on a Portuguese ship loaded with laborers destined for the sugar fields. Hawaiians made the instrument their own and calling it "ukulele" which translates to "jumping flea," It's believed to have originated because of the way a performer's fingers jump around on the strings.
Here is a link to a great article on the history of the ukulele by Dagan B.
This corresponds to the populary and availability of radio in the decade of the 20s to 40s.
A shift from the popularity of radio to most household have access to a TV and the second wave of the ukulele craze.
The third wave of the ukulele corresponding the the influence of YouTube and the Internet.
Check out all the famous people and musicians associated with the ukulele on the ukulele musicians page.
Ukulele virtuoso and master educator James Hill has a great take on how the three ukulele crazes spread — ALL corresponded to the adoption of new mass media delivery: radio, TV and the Internet. He has a great point that Radio, TV and the Internet all created a sense of community around the ukulele.
by Jim Tranquada and John King
University Of Hawai’ Press 2840 Kolowalu Street
Honolulu, Hawai’i 96822
from the The Ukulele A History web site
Since its introduction to Hawai‘i in 1879, the ‘ukulele has been many things: a symbol of an island paradise; a tool of political protest; an instrument central to a rich musical culture; a musical joke; a highly sought-after collectible; a cheap airport souvenir; a lucrative industry; and the product of a remarkable synthesis of western and Pacific cultures. The ‘Ukulele: A History explores all of these facets, placing the instrument for the first time in a broad historical, cultural, and musical context.
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