Saturday, September 29, 2007

Some interesting content from the old world of music!

An introduduction to ukuleles

The ukulele has been classified as a plucked lute; it belongs to the guitar family of instruments, and has generally been seen with four strings. Most people know the ukulele as an instrument used by musicians from Hawai. The most amusing as well as fascinating story about the origin of the ukuleles is about the now founder of the instrument, Joao Fernandes, who was so happy to land on the shores of Hawai that he started playing his native folk songs on this instrument. The impressed Hawains promptly named the instrument as ‘ukulele’, which when translated into English is,’ the jumping flea’. The name was given as a result of the fast movements of the fingers. Several tongues and pronunciations later the instrument has finally found home as a sweet sounding musical instrument, relatively easy to play and handy in size.
Ukuleles, are made from a fine local wood in Hawai, known for its fine tone and attractive color, it is called the ‘Koa’. A well made ukulele may be pretty highly priced running into thousands of dollars. The instrument has also been variously modified in th ehands of different musicains not only in the style of playing but also structurally. The original size called as Soprano and is about 21” in length. Another type is the Concert ukulele, which has a 15" scale length. The Tenor which has come into bieng since the 1920’s, has a 17" scale length and is about 26" in total length. The Baritone is a type which was created much later, around the 1940’s, it happens to be the biggest of all the sizes.
A most loved instrument in the Hawai islands, it is synonymous with its happy go lucky culture. There are many who have been fascinated by its lilting music and taken to playing it. Light in weight and easy to carry around, the ukulele has traveled far and wide. Interestingly this is an instrument played more for the love of music rather than bieng an impressive fashion quotient. Masteros like, Bill Tapia, Lyle Ritz and Jim Beloff have spread the knowledge and sweetness of this instrument around the world, helping in its growth and popularization.

The popularity of this instrument is due to its versatility. There have been musicians who have played all kinds of music on it, including, jazz, rock, country, folk, classical actually almost the entire range you can think of can be played on the Ukulele. Moreover it is an instrument that is accessible to most people. It is easy to play and almost anyone can learn to play it. There are players who are doing great things on the ukulele and expanding the horizon of this small instrument.

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